Some of this year’s Hunter Queen’s Birthday honours appointees are household names across the region, while others would not be wouldn’t be known outside the communities they work in.
Their backgrounds might be diverse - higher education, sport, media, medicine and police – yet they have all made an enormous positive difference through countless hours of self-sacrifice.
For some, such as University of Newcastle academic Dr Bernie Curran, vascular surgeon Dr Alan Bray and police officer John Gralton, their service fitted neatly within their professional careers.
Like most recipients, Dr Curran was overwhelmed when told he would be recognised in the Queens Birthday honours.
“It’s an affirmation of what you’ve been doing – and everything I’ve done has been primarily because I enjoy it so much,” he said.
For those such as New Lambton’s Juliana Waugh, who is being recognised for helping making the horse riding industry safer following the death of her daughter Sarah in a jillaroo training course, the motivation for their work stems from personal tragedy.
“This award is for Sarah, it’s part of her legacy,” her mother said.
“We have improved health and safety in other industries such as mining. The same thing needs to happen in the horse riding industry.”
What these stories and the many others told into today's Newcastle Herald tell us is that the service of individuals to our communities enriches us all.
Most of them do not hold high office or official titles, but they possess real power in the community.
They have the ability to mobilise people and get them working together in ways that formal bureaucracy would not have a hope of achieving.
Ironically, while Australians may be torn regarding their allegiance to the British monarchy, the Queen’s Birthday honours are a force to bring people together in recognition of our tireless community workers.
This year’s honours list has again uncovered an astounding group of individuals with amazing stories.
They are unsung heroes who, in their own unassuming way, inspire us to make the region and beyond an even better place to live. They are our humblest Australians, and we thank them.