Central Coast Deputy Mayor, Chris Holstein, and three others from the Coast Community News area have been awarded Medals of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, announced on June 10.
Holstein is joined in receiving the award by ophthalmologist, Michael Scobie, musical educator, Denise Lawrence, and champion for veterans and their families, Patsy Edwards.
The Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, announced 1,214 awards in the 2019 Honours List.
Included were 993 recipients of awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia and 221 meritorious and military awards.
Cosgrove said the recipients had made an “enormous contribution to their local communities and to the entire nation”.
“This is my last honours list as Governor-General,” he said.
“Over the last five years, it has been the greatest honour and privilege to recognise and celebrate over 80,000 recipients through the Honours and Awards System.
“These awards are our opportunity to say to fellow Australians, ‘thank you – without you and your tireless service we wouldn’t be the community or nation that we are’.
“If you have constantly put others ahead of yourself, served tirelessly and made a difference, you can be nominated and recognised by a grateful nation.
“It is great that the overall number of nominations and upward trend of Australian women being acknowledged through the Honours system continues to grow.
“We would all welcome higher recognition of magnificent Australian women.”
Chris Holstein recognised for services to local government and the community of Gosford
When Chris Holstein learned he was to be awarded an OAM in the Queen’s Honours List, he thought it would be interesting to ask his grandchildren if they knew what the acronym stood for.
“One of them suggested, Old And Mobile, and another thought it might stand for, Oh Another Meeting,” Holstein said.
Holstein was first elected to the former Gosford Council in 1991, serving as Mayor from 1997-2001 and 2008-2010.
In 2011, he was elected as State Member for Gosford and held this post until 2015.
In 2017, he was elected to the first Central Coast Council, following the amalgamation of Wyong and Gosford Councils, and became its inaugural Deputy Mayor.
“I am very honoured to receive the OAM,” he said.
“In a job that doesn’t give a lot of thanks very often, it is nice to be acknowledged for 27 plus years in civic life.
“But I also see it as an acknowledgement for my family, who kept me grounded and focused for all those years, and for all those who worked with me, advised, directed and suffered me in that time.
“After 27 years in civic life my wife is still married to me and my kids still call me Dad, and that’s what’s important.”
Holstein was recognised in the honours list for services to local government and the community of Gosford.
His list of achievements is long, but one or two things stand out.
“I look back over a range of things we have achieved for the Central Coast, from free garbage collections to big upgrades of our surf clubs,” he said.
“Among things I am proud to have been involved in are the establishment of Central Coast Stadium, the Peninsula Leisure Centre and the Caroline Bay precinct, and I am also proud of the roadworks improvements we have made, from the West Gosford interchange upgrade to the Renwick St roundabout.
“There was a lot of joy and satisfaction in every milestone because they were things we fought hard for.”
Holstein has also been very active over the years in fund raising for community and not-for-profit organisations, including Coast Shelter and Regional Youth Support Services.
Patsy Edwards honoured in recognition of her service to veterans’ affairs
Patsy Edwards of Gosford has always been passionate
about the welfare of serving and ex-serving members of the Defence Force and veterans.
The daughter of a father who was a WWII veteran and a mother who was a foundation member of the Claremont RSL Women’s Auxiliary in Tasmania, she was born in to the RSL environment and has been honoured with an OAM in recognition of her service to veterans’ affairs.
“From an early age I used to help out at the two dinners that the Claremont Women’s Auxiliary catered for the Sub Branch members on ANZAC Day and the Remembrance Day dinners,” she said.
“When I turned 18, I joined the RSL as a relative of a veteran and eventually as a full member.”
A member of the defence force for 42 years, Edwards
served in the WRAAC Reserves, WRANS, WRANS Reserves, RANR and Army Reserves and is still a member serving on the Stand-by Army Reserves list.
Active for many years with the Claremont RSL Women’s Auxiliary and Windemere Hostel committee, she did everything from brushing residents’ hair, to doing other shopping and taking flowers to the ladies on Mother’s Day.
When Legacy opened its membership to females, she was one of the first three ladies to become a legatee in Hobart, transferring to Brisbane Water (NSW) Legacy in 2000 and taking on visiting widows in the Central Coast area.
Over the years, Edwards has helped with fundraising to support veterans, working with the Vietnam Veterans Peacemakers and Peace Keepers Association, Central Coast Sub Section.
After transferring to Gosford RSL Sub Branch in 2000, she took on the position of secretary in 2001 and still holds that position.
She worked with Central Coast Health to secure a grant to set up a Veteran Volunteer Health Force, where volunteers visit veterans and widows in hospital and give them information on services available to them on discharge.
She was part of the Centenary of ANZAC project and spends hours organising commemorative events in Gosford City such as ANZAC Day, the Boer War and Remembrance Day services, as well as the Mangrove Mountain ANZAC Sunday service.
Edwards is a big supporter of women’s auxiliaries attached to Gosford RSL Sub Branch, and has been a part of the Razzles entertainment group.
Over the years she has supported the Navy Cadets and since moving to the Central Coast, the Air Force Cadets.
Edwards was made a life member of the RSL of Australia in 2014 and remains a reserve volunteer with Brisbane Water Legacy.
“It was a lovely surprise to receive the OAM,” she said.
“I was both humbled and honoured.
“I do what I do because it comes from the heart and the care and support of veterans, serving and ex serving members of the Defence Force and their families, is important to me.
“I come from a family that has a long military history, going back to the Boer War.”
Denise Lawrence awarded for her services to the field of music education
Denise Lawrence started to learn the piano when she was just four and a half, but it was when she took up a cello at the age of seven that she found her life’s passion.
Lawrence, of MacMasters Beach, said she was “very humbled” to receive an OAM in the Honours List for her services to the field of music education.
“I have never looked for rewards,” she said.
“I have had a wonderful career and that is a reward of its own.
“I couldn’t quite believe it when the call came.”
Lawrence was raised in the Sydney area in a very musical family.
“My grandfather was the first double bass player in the first Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1932,” she said.
“And I was so used to standing beside my grandmother as she played the piano that I automatically did the same when a nun at my first school started playing.
“It was the nuns who convinced my parents that I should begin learning to play, which was very unusual for a child of that age at that time.
“When I was seven I was given a mini cello and I fell in love.
“From that day I never doubted I would be a cellist.”
Lawrence played in the Australian Youth Orchestra at the age of 14 and appeared regularly on the ABC in the Young Australia broadcasts.
In her final year of school, she topped the state in music in what was then the Leaving Certificate, and went on to study at the Sydney Conservatorium on a scholarship.
Lawrence met her husband when she was 18 and looking for an accompanist.
“He came to play for me and he was so good I married him.” she said.
She and her husband, a talented pianist and viola player, studied with the world’s greatest teachers in Europe and played together in numerous concerts.
“My husband was older than I and a mentor and always pushed me to be the best I could be,” Lawrence said.
“We were lucky the arts were so prominent in England in those days so we were constantly employed.”
It is for her music teaching, though, that Lawrence has been recognised.
“I have been teaching since my late teens and absolutely love it,” she said.
“I have former students playing professionally in orchestras all over the world.”
Lawrence has been Senior Strings Examiner with the Australian Music Examination Board of NSW for 30 years, and Chief Examiner (Strings) since 2000.
She was a founding member of the Australian Strings Association (AUSTA) in the 1970s, and in 2015, was recognised for her “great contribution” to music education by the Australian String Teachers Association.
“I have been very fortunate,” she said.
“I seemed always to be in the right place at the right time.”
Dr Michael Scobie awarded for life changing community service
Throughout his medical training, Dr Michael Scobie, of Avoca Beach, had always had an interest in eye disease.
After a chance job opportunity, he entered into the field of ophthalmology and has now been recognised with an OAM for his years of work in the field, including volunteer work in northern Queensland and Papua New Guinea.
“As a student, eye diseases had always interested me and sometimes fate steps in,” he said.
“I was travelling in England after I had graduated and done my residencies and an eye job became available.
“I had always had that interest in the back of my mind, so I took the job and one thing led to another.
“I ended up doing my ophthalmology training for three years in Bristol.”
Scobie worked as a specialist ophthalmologist at Gosford Hospital from 1978 until his retirement in 2001, and was also visiting medical officer at both Brisbane Waters Private Hospital and North Gosford Private Hospital in that time.
He was founder and lead ophthalmologist for the Central Coast Eye Care Team and has affiliations with ophthalmology colleges in New Zealand and Edinburgh.
But it is his volunteer work which led to his recognition for community service.
From 1988-1993, he was a volunteer with the North Queensland Eye Care Program, taking eye care to remote communities.
“I was keen to do more volunteer work and a colleague had been to Papua New Guinea in 1995,” he said.
“What she had been doing up there appealed to me and I joined her in 1996.
“From then I continued to take medical teams to various places in Papua New Guinea for 16 years.
“These were remote villages, it was impossible for them to get basic medical care in many cases, and the nature of the terrain made the chances of travelling to major centres for treatment very small.
“Much of the treatment I did in those years involved removal of cataracts.
“Many people could barely discern light from dark, these cataracts were blinding them and could be cured with a simple operation.
“It was life changing for the whole family when the sight of an older family member was restored.
“It often freed up younger family members who had previously been looking after the older folk.
“I was very lucky to be working in a field where you could change people’s lives.”
Scobie said he was “chuffed” that his work overseas had been recognised but acknowledged those who had worked with him in the field.
“The people who came with me deserve the praise too,’’ he said.
Media release, June 9
Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor General
Interviews with recipients
Reporter, Terry Collins