May Collier recognised on Australia Day Honours List with an OAM

CHERISHED: Life-long Trundle resident May Collier was named on the Australia Day Honours List to receive an OAM. Photo: Barbara Reeves.
CHERISHED: Life-long Trundle resident May Collier was named on the Australia Day Honours List to receive an OAM. Photo: Barbara Reeves.

One of Trundle’s true treasures has been honoured for a lifetime of service to her community with a very special accolade.

May Collier was named on the Australia Day Honours List to receive an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) as part of this year’s Australia Day celebrations.

The members of May’s beloved community of Trundle thought she was deserving of not just one but two awards - also bestowing on her the honour of being the 2019 Trundle Citizen of the Year.

True to her humble form, May was uneasy with all the fuss, especially around the OAM.

“I don’t know, I feel embarrassed over this situation,” she said.

“I honestly feel that this is not my honour - it’s the honour of the community because they are the ones who have supported anything that I have promoted or worked toward and I’ve had wonderful friendships, wonderful.

“I don’t think I should bask in the glory, I really don’t, however I am proud of the fact that they have considered that I be put forward.

May received the OAM for her service to the community of Trundle through her involvement with various organisations including the County Women’s Association, Australian Red Cross, United Hospital Auxiliaries of New South Wales, Trundle Pastoral and Agricultural Society, and Trundle Anglican Church.

May has lived in Trundle almost her whole life.

“My father bought property here when I was only 16 months old and I’m now 91 coming 92 - so I’ve been here a fair while,” she quipped.

“I think when you live in a community for a length of time you become very associated with people and with the organisations that work within the community.

“I have benefited greatly from the interest I have had in these organisations, I really have, and I feel that I have learned so much, not only about those organisations but about the way people think and operate themselves and how people, with help from everybody, interlock.

“It’s only through working together that you make a success of any organisation.”

May’s interest in Red Cross began when she was a teenager.

“I was home on holidays from boarding school, it was during war time, about 1942, which is not yesterday,” she laughed.

“The Red Cross branch here had a small shop in the main street where they sold foodstuffs and served afternoon tea, and various sections of the community took it in turns to man the shop.

“A local soldier, who was commissioned to go overseas, came home on unexpected leave and wanted to marry his fiance before he left again for duties.

“Food was short and it was hard to get any supplies so he asked the Red Cross women if they could supply something for their wedding breakfast.

“It was only a very tiny shop and we entertained them inside and out on the footpath.

“Well I thought this was wonderful and it made me realise how Red Cross could be available to people and I’ve never ceased since then working for it in varying forms.”

May was the recipient of an Australian Red Cross Laurel Wreath Award in 1995, a Service Award in 2015 and has served in all the various office bearers positions within the branch and the group including Zone Representative.

Is she still a member?

“Oh heavens yes, I am patron of the branch,” she said.

May’s first association with the Country Women’s Association was when she joined what was called the CWA Younger Set in 1945.

“It was very operative in those years,” she said.

“We did a lot of work, we had balls and varying sorts of fundraising, we had a lot of good fun, and we had good friends in it.

“Unfortunately that organisation has ceased to operate all together.”

May joined the CWA mother branch in 1965 and over the years held most positions.

“One of the things I got most satisfaction from was being Handicraft Officer,” she said.

“I went to Sydney for a three day course and sat for my judges badge which I fortunately achieved and that in turn entitled me to judge around the state.

“That has given me a great deal of pleasure, I’ve judged from Bourke to Orange and the Blue Mountains and further down south.

“And that opens up judging at shows and that sort of thing.

“I am really, really interested in needlework handicraft, I do a bit myself.”

May counts one of her proudest achievements in CWA as kicking off the public speaking competition within the Oxley Group.

“That was my baby, I promoted that and got it off the ground and we had the first public speaking within the group here in Trundle,” she said.

“It’s never ceased. It’s gone from strength to strength and now we have it as an inter group competition as well as only group.”

May has been appointed patron of the Oxley Group, was a representative to Sydney for the state, and has held all the various office bearer positions.

She was presented life membership in 2012.

As a foundation member of the United Hospital Auxiliaries of New South Wales Trundle Branch, May has been with the branch since 1959 and has held positions of Vice President and President.

“A couple of years ago they honoured me with life membership,” she said.

“I thought that was terrific.”

Last year May organised quite a large art and photographic exhibition in Trundle.

“It made considerable thousands of dollars for the hospital,” she said.

“We were able to buy things like particular therapeutic beds and a bed for the physiotherapist and things we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.  

“People worked very hard with me, I certainly didn’t do it all myself, but it was fun.”

May is a big advocate for the Trundle Show, holding the position of Steward from 1967 to 1989, then Chief Steward from 1989 to 2004.

“The show has always been very important to the community, it’s a showcase of the whole district,” she said.

“It’s only a small area of course, but during the show the best comes forward.

“I’ve been honoured there with a life membership too which is lovely.”  

May feels organisations like Red Cross and CWA will survive, but with difficulty.

“What you have to do in any branch or any organisation to attract new members is to find some particular vein that works for people and they are interested in and promote that,” she said.

“But also you have to have something in your sights, you can’t just waffle along and hope that people are going to come to meetings because that won’t happen.

“You’ve got to try and be positive, you’ve got to hold their interest in something and give people something to do.

“It’s no good thinking you are going to do it all yourself because that doesn’t operate, you have to delegate.”

May has been giving non stop to the community of Trundle since she was a teenager.

“I got a lot back from it - ever so much more than I ever put into it. I’ve been the one that has benefited, there’s no doubt about that,” she said.

“We have a great little community here, people work together really well and it’s good to see the success people make of things.”

May has two children, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Her husband Lloyd passed away 18 months ago.

TRUNDLE AUSTRALIA DAY SPORTS AWARDS

2018 Sportsperson of the Year: Adam Hall. 

January: Eric Fernando, Cricket.

February: Monique Morgan, Swimming.

March: Paddy Williams, Swimming.

April: Trundle Senior Cricket. 

May: Jorja Rusten, Tiarne Rusten, Pony Club.

June: Brooke Morgan, Cross Country.

July: Monique Morgan, Cross Country.

August: Jaxson Whiley, Athletics Discus.

September: Trundle Boomers, Football. 

October: Boys Super 8s Cricket Team – Brodi Gavin Rossiter, Bryce Gavin Rossiter, Ryan Taylor, Codie Wilson, Dylan Martin, Nicholas Williams, William Taylor, Lionel Hartig, Harrison Williams.

November: Small School Relay – Blair MacDonald, Bradley Timbrell, Charlie Taunton, Charlie Anderson. 

December: Girls Super 8s Cricket Team – Brooke Morgan, Monique Morgan, Ella Bridger, Holly Tomlinson, Shelby-Lee Dellow, Amy Mallard, Ashlee Bartijn, Skye Wilson.