Ellie Hetherington has never been one to bake.
But she doesn’t mind propagating - so when a Can Assist committee member asked her if she’d cook for the charity’s street stalls she said “how about I do some plants?”
Today, eight and a half years later, Ellie - having raised more than $196,000 - has been named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List to receive an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) as part of this year’s Australia Day celebrations.
The 70-year-old has been recognised for her service to the community through charitable organisations.
She is one of two people from Parkes to receive the prestigious medal and title that follows this year, and among the 755 OAM recipients around Australia, of which 285 are women.
“That’s very nice but I don’t deserve it,” Ellie said.
“I didn’t do it to get rewards. I did it because Can Assist helped my sister and I wanted to return the favour.”
When Ellie started her fundraising business “Ellie's Plants for Charity” from her Military Road property in 2010 she never imagined it would grow into such a success.
“I only started it to do two stalls a year for Can Assist,” she said.
“And then I started going to the markets in the Uniting Church car park and it just kept on growing and growing.
Ellie’s fundraising efforts have ballooned from $5000 in 2010 to an amazing $49,642 in 2018.
And it’s all been from the sale of plants ranging in price from $2 to $5.
Ellie said she is very humbled and honoured to receive the OAM but without the help of her husband Bernie it never would have started.
“I could never have done it without Bern, he’s that silent partner who does so much work,” she said.
“I just feel guilty, I will always see that OAM with his name on it too. You need two people and he was just so good.”
Due to Ellie's and Bernie’s health, she decided to close Ellie's Plants for Charity at the end of last year.
“We finished on December 31,” she said.
“I announced we were closing down at the start of December, we raised over $11,000 for the month and didn’t take anything over $4.”
Ellie said her last day was a sad day and an end to a very big part of her life.
“It was hard work, but knowing we have helped ease the financial burden on cancer sufferers made it all worthwhile,” she said.
“I’ve had a lot of help over the years, people have been very generous, especially Marg Thurn.
“She gave me so much help it was unbelievable, I could not have existed without Marg for the last four years.
“Everyone who has been involved and contributed over the years should feel proud that they have helped to raise the money, I haven’t done it on my own.”
Parkes woman and passionate gardener Donna Monkerud has taken over the business and relocated it to the corner of Kelly and Military Roads.
It was officially opened on January 18 and renamed “Plants for Charity”.
Ellie said she is not giving up propagating.
“I’m giving up the bulk side of things but I will still propagate plants for Donna,” she said.
The Australia Day 2019 Honours List is the largest in the history of the Order of Australia, recognising 1127 outstanding and inspirational Australians.
Since 2014, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC has appointed or awarded almost 7000 Australians in the General Division of the Order of Australia.