FOR his service to the community of South Gippsland, Neil Warren of Inverloch, is being honoured today with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) but typical of other awardees, he’s sure a lot of other people have done more than him.
But with a plethora of accolades to his name and a lifetime of community service behind him, Neil’s award will have plenty of people nodding in agreement.
For 37 years, Neil has been a member of the Leongatha Lyric Theatre, and has lead the group as both President and Treasurer during his time. He’s a life member and a tireless worker for the group, appearing on stage as needs be but especially strong in the behind the scenes work of set building and stage management.
Neil was a teacher at Leongatha Secondary College from 1978 until 2006, and has been an SES volunteer since 2000.
He is also a volunteer of the Bicycle Network, and has been a life member since 2015.
In the past, Neil has been acknowledged for his efforts in the community, having been awarded the Leongatha Citizen of the Year award in 2003.
But it was the letter announcing that he was to be the recipient of the OAM medal that took him by surprise.
“I was a bit surprised when I received the letter and I found out. There are so many people around the district who do so much for the community,” Neil said.
“There are a lot of other people who do heaps in the community; I’m just one of many.”
For Neil, being able to give back to the community that has given him so much is an important, grounding element of his life.
“It’s nice to be able to give back to the community that has given so much to you. You try and give back a bit, so that others can enjoy it as well.”
Looking back on his years spent in the South Gippsland community, Neil remembers fondly the role he played in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“One of the highlights of my time in the community was carrying the Olympic torch through Leongatha at the time of the Sydney Olympics,” Neil said.
“I carried it right through the main street of Leongatha, which was pretty memorable.”