This year’s Australia Day celebrations had a heightened significance for former soldier Donald Randall, with the Eungai Creek man recognised with an Order of Australia Medal following 30 years of community service to the Mid North Coast.
Don first moved to Eungai Creek from Sydney in 1982, following nearly 30 years in the army.
He wasted no time becoming involved in a variety of community groups, including stints as the chair and director of Nambucca Valley Care over 12 years, as well as being a treasurer, pensions officer and life member at Macksville RSL.
Don also joined the Macksville Hospital Board in 1989, serving as a director and chair, and was a member of the Eungai Creek Bushfire Brigade. He also spent 25 years with Mid North Coast Legacy.
Don, who turns 80 in May, estimated that his work at Legacy saw him provide support for about 11 widows and families each year.
A coronary artery bypass in 1993 saw him focus more on his work with the RSL and Legacy.
The official citation on Don’s award states that it is for service to veterans and their families, and to the community.
The idea of an OAM wasn’t something he was initially keen on.
“About 18 months ago a friend brought the idea up,” he said.
“I said, ‘No way, forget it.’”
It’s a prized recognition, according to Don, who received an Australia Day Award from Nambucca Council in 2000 for services to the community as an individual.
“I’m very proud,” Don said.
“I think it’s quite an honour.”
He’s got some simple philosophies regarding volunteering.
“There’s a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction you can get out of it,” he said.
“They saw when you leave your employment, you’ve got all this free time.
“It’s not hard to fill it up if you’re willing to work for other people.”
After more than 30 years of community service, Don said both he and his wife were not looking forward to some well-deserved travel.
Don said the medal, as well as being recognised by his contemporaries, was one of his proudest achievements.
“I suppose the recognition is a feather in the cap, but I never thought I’d get an OAM,” he said.
“When your peers recognise you, it’s quite something, particularly for an old digger.”