Barrington's Wendy Hughes receives the Medal of the Order of Australia

Wendy Hughes plans to celebrate receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia with some champagne and a bag of salt and vinegar chips. Photo Anne Keen
Wendy Hughes plans to celebrate receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia with some champagne and a bag of salt and vinegar chips. Photo Anne Keen

When Barrington's Wendy Hughes received the email asking her if she would accept the nomination for the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), she thought it was junk mail.

"It was a bit of a shock. When I got the email, I almost deleted it cause I thought it was spam," Wendy laughed.

Her husband, John convinced her to keep it, and it's a good thing she did because she made the Queen's Birthday 2019 Honours List to receive an OAM.

"It's like it's happening to someone else," she said, finding the whole experience a little surreal.

It's all very hush-hush, with those named are under strict orders to not tell anyone until the official announcement on Monday, June 10. And Wendy has no idea who nominated her.

She's was nominated for service to the community of Gloucester, with the list including a lot of what she has done since moving from England to the Gloucester region in 1972; but not all.

The list included things like her work with the Gloucester Mountain Man Tri Challenge Club, the Barrington Rural Fire Brigade, the Gloucester Lions Club, Gloucester Garden Club and Barrington District Progress Association.

But considering she started volunteering in 1974, there's bound to be a few things people may not be aware of.

It all began in 1974, after Wendy had her first child, Trudy. Wendy and her mother, started the inaugural Home Care Group to provide services to help the ageing members of the community stay in their homes longer. When Trudy started daycare, Wendy joined the board of director for Gloucester Preschool, and it continued from there.

"If I see something that can help the community, I want to see how to make it happen," Wendy explained.

Having grown up in England, she came to Australia with knowledge of different ways to support members of the community. She saw a need for teaching young children about 'stranger-danger', so she started the Safety House Scheme. She saw a need for supporting farmers during the severe drought in the '80s, so she started the Rural Counselling Scheme.

"When people say to me it can't happen, it's a bit like a red rag to a bull," she laughed. "I'm determined to make it happen."

She also wanted to give back to a community that was so welcoming to her when she first arrived.

"Gloucester had, and still has, a strong volunteering ethic," she explained.

Volunteering is in Wendy's blood, growing up with both her parents being active volunteers and getting this accolade makes her wish they were here to see it.

"They'd be so proud."

This volunteering spirit is still going strong in the family, with Trudy and her family also quite active in the community.

"It's nice to see it filter down," Wendy said.

During Wendy's years of volunteering, she managed to notch up several milestones. She was the first female president of the Gloucester Lions Club, she was one of the first females permitted to work at the Gloucester electoral booth, and she was inducted into the NSW Hidden Treasure Hall of Fame in 2011.

So, how is Wendy going to celebrate her OAM?

"With some champagne and salt and vinegar chips," she laughed.

The official ceremony where Wendy will receive her medal will take place later this year.