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Lorna Martin receives OAM

Lorna Martin is both the easiest person to write about and the most difficult person to write about.

RACHEAL WILLETT June 11, 2014 4:09pm

She is the former because her more than 60 years of service to the Yarrawonga Mulwala community is so extensive it would easily fill many pages.

At the same time she is a difficult editorial subject because with her great community service comes incredible humility and an inability to accept she has done anything particularly special or out of the ordinary.

No greater evidence of this humility was when Lorna Martin was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

She greeted the news with complete shock.

“I was incredibly surprised,” she told the Yarrawonga Chronicle. “I had no idea what it was all about when I got the letter. I can’t imagine who would have nominated me.”

In fact, the likely list of potential nominators is extensive with Lorna’s consistent dedication to many organisations well documented.

For Returned Services League and Legacy

First and foremost a wife and mother, Lorna 85, began her community involvement after marrying her beau Harry Martin when he returned from service and detention as a prisoner of war in WWII.

She recognised that returned servicemen and their families bore an incredible burden on their return to home soil and set about committing herself to ensuring the welfare of those returned and their loved ones.

Lorna joined the Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Women’s Auxiliary in 1964, serving as president for 13 years, stepping down only recently, and continues as a life member.

Through countless years of fundraising, including many cold mornings selling raffle tickets and afternoons spent picking flowers and hand-making wreaths, Lorna and the dedicated members of the auxiliary provided unmeasurable support to many.

Following Harry’s passing in 1974, with grown children Maureen, Michael, Henry and Mary, and an ever-growing brood of grandchildren, Lorna didn’t allow her personal grief to challenge her commitment to helping others.

She was the Foundation President of the Yarrawonga Legacy Widows Club in 1992, a position she held for ten years during her 21 years as a member.

Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub-Branch Past President and Legatee Brian Cossar said he could not determine a more worthy recipient of a Queen’s Birthday honour.

“From my perspective, through all that Lorna has done with both the RSL Auxiliary and Legacy, this honour could not go to a better person,” Mr Cossar said.

“She has done so much for so many, she has bought such joy and comfort to others, and she did so just taking for granted that it was the right thing to do.

“Lorna’s leadership has shone through in both organisations and as an RSL member and a Legatee, knowing she was there made everything so much easier – you always knew that all you had to do was ask and she was there to help.”

Brian said having known Lorna for many years he was sure she’d be humbled by the receipt of an OAM, but she would no doubt accept it with great pride for herself, others she has worked alongside and the organisations she has represented.

For the wider community                                               

Not content to focus on just one sector of the community, Lorna turned her hand to a variety of community groups – always a willing helper, committee member and participant.

She was a foundation member, treasurer and president of the Yarrawonga Hospital Extensions Club – raising vital funds for improvements to the hospital and additional medical equipment.

Catering officer, holiday co-ordinator and indoor bowls committee member were among the roles Lorna held within the Yarrawonga Senior Citizens Club.

She was also a member of the Yarrawonga Scout Hall Fundraising Committee, Cancer Support Group, Yarrawonga Old People’s Welfare Committee, foundation member of the Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Club Ladies Indoor Bowls and a committee member of the Miss Australia and Junior Miss Australia Quest.

At one time Lorna was also a Neighbourhood Watch Zone Representative, surprising considering most who know her well would attest she was rarely at home due to the sheer number of meetings and events she regularly attended.

And, though not at all surprising to her family - four children, 13 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren – Lorna, or mum, nan and nanny, never missed a birthday, school concert, 21st party or wedding.

Lorna’s outstanding contribution to Yarrawonga Mulwala was recognised with her naming as Yarrawonga Citizen of the Year in 1999 and receipt of the Rotary Club of Australia Paul Harris Fellow in 2005.

This Queen’s Birthday she adds to her list of accomplishments by accepting an Order of Australia Medal.

It is with great pride the extended family, this author included, congratulate Lorna Martin on this outstanding achievement and thank her wholeheartedly for inspiring each and every one of us to find ways to be better people, for ourselves, our families and our community.

And though she will most likely be uncomfortable with the fuss and fanfare, as a family we celebrate Lorna’s lifetime of community service to Yarrawonga Mulwala. 

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