JOHN Kearns' inspiration for helping the community came from his dad.
"My dad was one who was very community-minded and I suppose I followed on a bit from him," he said.
The life-long Portland resident recently received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to his community through a range of roles.
Mr Kearns has dedicated 50 years of his life to helping in community health and aged care sector, membership with clubs and organisations as well as acting as a councillor with Lithgow City Council and Blaxland Shire Council.
- Member of Lithgow Health Council. Midwest Area Health Board 2000-2015
- Founding board member of Tabulam Cottage Retirement Home since the 1990s
- Board member at Coleman House Ages Care Hostel, 20 years
- Portland RSL Club director since 2014
- Member of Portland/Cullen Bullen Branch, Australian Labor Party since 1971, past secretary and treasurer
- Portland Bowling Club treasurer, 10 years
- Portland Colts Rugby League committee member, 1963-1974
- Portland Brass Band secretary and player 1959-1970s
- Portland St Vincent de Paul Society president since 2004 and volunteer since 2002
- Trustee at Glen Museum, 5 years
- Portland Pool Committee past secretary
- Australia Day organising committee member
- Lithgow City councillor 1977-1985
- Blaxland Shire councillor 1974-1977
Mr Kearns said his passion for helping the community all started when he became involved in activities with the Portland Rugby League Club and the town band.
"I became involved in various community activities and over the years that sort of extended.
"Anything I could put my hand in to help, I would," he said.
He said he was also "very interested" in politics, following Labor politics for most of his life which led him to 12 years as a Councillor.
Mr Kearns said he loves the community greatly and he felt receiving an OAM was an acknowledgement to the people of Portland.
"...because without all the help I've had I wouldn't be standing here talking about it today," he said.
"I feel it's also an acknowledgement for this community because they've always been great and encouraged whatever I've done and been happy for that."
He said he felt privileged and honoured, and to be an OAM recipient was a pure highlight.
"I suppose to the words surprising and overwhelming is probably a bit of an understatement. Really, it's really been a great highlight for me. I don't take it lightly," he said.
"It's something that not everyone gets there's probably others more deserving of it. I now belong to a very elite group of people."
Mr Kearns wanted to thank his wife Pat, family and members of the community and community organisations.
"I feel they're all part of this and if I were to dedicate it [OAM] to anyone it'd be my dear dad because he was the one who always inspired me.
"I feel I'm privileged and honoured and grateful for the people that nominated me for the position and then to be accepted, and I certainly accept it with pride and will never forget it," he said.
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