Three local men, all apart in profession but equal in their contribution to Australia and its way of life, have been recognised with a spot on the Queen's Birthday list, recognising outstanding and inspirational Australians.
Ken Sutcliffe, Douglas Grigg and Hunter White, all from the Mudgee region have been selected among a fortunate group to receive the award.
Despite their differences one thing they all have in common is how humbling they say it is to be recognised.
The Mudgee Guardian interviewed the men on their history, passions, what motivates them and how it feels to receive an Order of Australia Medal.
Ken Sutcliffe was awarded, for 'service to the broadcast media, particularly to television'. In a career spanning decades, it's unlikely you'd find anyone that grew up watching television in Australia in the last 50 years that would not recognise Ken's face or know his voice.
An icon of television and a part of Australian sporting culture, Ken says that he considers himself extremely fortunate to have known from a young age exactly what he wanted to be.
"From as early as I can remember, all I ever wanted was to be on radio, but there was one problem. I couldn't speak," Ken said.
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"I was a shy kid by nature. But I used to practice with the turntable and the little recorder that mum bought me with a little '45 record and I'd read ads out of the Mudgee Guardian, pretending I was on-air at 2MG,"
"By the time I finished school I went down to the local station and thought 'I'll have a crack'. I remember the day so clearly. My dad came down with me, he worked on the railway and really didn't know the sort of industry I was trying to get into,"
"I've got to say to Ron. I wouldn't have given me a job, but he did and I am forever grateful to this day, that was in 1966."Ken Sutcliffe
"He was there to back me, as moral support."
The interview was not a success for Ken, who says he 'pretty much looked at the floor and mumbled'.
Ken's father was told by the interviewer, 'Ken just can't speak. He really needs to get out there and learn how to talk.'
Destiny or luck, around this time, Ken was told by his friend's sister - who was a radio announcer herself - that he should work for her uncle, Ron Nelson, and that this would be what he needed to learn how to speak.
Ron Nelson, was the local barber.
Seeing the potential Ron held for Ken, he immediately started an apprenticeship and he says within weeks of his start, he 'could talk the legs off a horse.'
"Two years into that apprenticeship I got a part-time job at 2MG thanks to Ron Camplin and that's where it began," he said.
"I worked every weekend of my life and my wife Anne allowed me to have that career too. I owe so much to her."Ken Sutcliffe
"I've got to say to Ron. I wouldn't have given me a job, but he did and I am forever grateful to this day, that was in 1966."
Despite his success, Ken insists on staying grounded and says the most important thing is that you never forget where you came from.
"I'm very conscious of people in the media, they get awards because they're very visible. Their work is brought to people's attention," he said.
"I look around this (Mudgee) district and I see men and women, boys and girls doing some wonderful things. Going about their job quietly. They don't get media exposure other than to family and friends. They do extraordinary things and most often they don't get recognised,"
"I worked every weekend of my life and my wife Anne allowed me to have that career too. I owe so much to her,"
"I keep that very much in context in regards to this award, you must keep perspective on it. I was very lucky to start my career in this town and finish my career in this town."
Mr White has lived in the Mudgee region his entire life, and was awarded for 'service to the agricultural show sector, and to the community'.
Those that know him know that he has dedicated most of his life to the cause of furthering the world of regional agriculture and the protection and nurturing of the our environment.
"I'm a farmer, it runs in the family, that's how it all began," he said.
"From there I got involved in organising shows, race meetings and many other things. I've been involved with Mudgee Race Club for many years,"
"My interest and the reason I think agriculture is so important is that it's about telling the story of agriculture in the community, coming together and celebrating it. That's important to me,"
"These shows like the Small Farm Field Days are so important. It brings people together and allows them to showcase their passion to the community,"
In his time, things have changed enormously, but Hunter says its importance has never waned. "I think Mudgee's changed enormously, probably once upon a time it relied on agriculture, it's much more diverse now," he said.
"They bring people together. They have and continue to make such an enormous difference in their communities. Bush fire brigades are really the heart and soul of our small communities."Hunter White
"That actually means telling the story of agriculture has become more important. The story today is about the provenance of the food we eat. It used to be all about taste, now people are now demanding to know where their food comes from and your story is now the most important part of that. It's a good thing."
Hunter said it must be difficult to pick single someone out for an award when he considers his work is shared among so many other hard working people.
"A lot of people are involved in these community activities. I would like to acknowledge all the people I work with. I actually feel like I'm accepting the award on behalf of them, so all you people out there. You know who you are. You're a part of this too."
Not just confined to agriculture, Hunter's accomplishments take another form as a member of the Havilah Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade since 1974 and Deputy Captain since 2005.
"Bush fire brigades, there's quite a few of them in our region. They're much more than just about fighting fires," he said.
"They bring people together. They have and continue to make such an enormous difference in their communities. Bush fire brigades are really the heart and soul of our small communities."
Working among some of the most unsung of heroes in the community, Douglas Grigg was awarded for 'service to the community through emergency response organisations.'
Douglas says that it might sound like a cliche, but he feels incredibly humbled to receive the award and notes that he doesn't do the things he does to get a medal, he does them because he wants to help the community.
"There are so many people out there that are doing this without any recognition, so I feel a bit embarrassed actually [laughs]," Doug said.
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"When I arrived in Mudgee in 1970, it was a very different town back then, but the way you made connections was to join up and be part of community organisations. I started pretty early in the Historical Society and the church choir,"
"I was a teacher for a time and one of my colleagues asked if I'd join him in reviving the state emergency services in Mudgee, that was starting in 1971 and it's gone on from there."
"I think it's really sad that people are missing out on what volunteering can do for you. The skills and the relationships you can have."Douglas Grigg
Doug says one of the hardest things he's had to face is balancing family life with being a part of emergency services, which can mean going from traumatising scenes to relative normality very quickly.
"People expect you to go out at all hours of the night, but you try and not burden your family too much. It can put an awful strain on them when I suddenly have to leave at 3am," Doug said.
Doug worries that fewer people are choosing to sign up to volunteer lately with the average age of volunteers at the Lawson Rural Fire Brigade growing, but says in other places he's glad to see exceptions.
"It's getting more and more difficult to get younger people to volunteer when - talking about the Lawson Brigade, but if you look at the Mudgee RFS, it has quite a number of young people," Doug said.
"Especially in things like emergency services that require you to be on call all the time. I think it's really sad that people are missing out on what volunteering can do for you. The skills and the relationships you can have."
Doug encourages anyone curious, to give volunteering a go.