Brian Mackander OAM, inspiring Warrigal Board Member & Chairman
One of my greatest achievements was receiving an Order of Australia in 1994 for Community Services. As well as my involvement with Warrigal, I was involved in many community organisations such as: Apex Service Club, Lake Illawarra Police Citizens Youth Club, Tawarra special school for handicapped children, Oak Flats Karoo Bay Sea Scouts, Wollongong Smith Family, Masonic Lodge and the Shellharbour Justices Association.
One day I got a phone call at work from my wife, in 34 years my wife very rarely called while I was at work. She told me that a huge envelope arrived in the mail with a special stamp on the front of it. She wanted to open it, but I said ‘No way, it’s addressed to me!’
When I got home she was waiting with the envelop in the middle of the table, she was so excited. Then I opened it and it read “You have been awarded the Order of Australia”, we were both quite emotional.
At the bottom of the letter it said: “Please do not disclose the contents of this letter until after the announcement by the Australian Government”. So we had to find a safe place in our house away from our four kids and two daughters in law. I said to my wife “The safest place to put this letter is in your knicker drawer because no one will want to look in there!”
Just before the OAM was announced, our eldest son was going to Queensland. My wife wanted to tell him about the OAM however I decided to print a copy of the letter and just as he was at the boarding gate I handed him the letter. He thought it was money so said “Thanks Dad”. By the time he opened it, he was up in the air. He called me as soon as he landed and he cried down the phone, he promised to organise a party when he got home to celebrate.
The ceremony was wonderful, we got lots of photos of the Governor shaking my hand.
I’ve got five life memberships in organisations and you don’t expect more than a pat on the back but it’s nice when you get some letters after your name.
I didn’t know who nominated me for the Order of Australia, as it’s suppose to be kept a secret however once it was announced people started ringing me up and letting me know they had something to do with it!
About 3-4 years later I got a big envelope with all references that formed part of my application, it was touching to read what everyone had written about my roles in community organisations.
Since then I have nominated 16 other people for an Order of Australia. It is quite a lengthy process nominating someone. You have to find out what the person has done, gather a list of organisations they have been involved in and get reference letters from these organisations.
I’m very proud of my time with Warrigal. We would take our grandchildren up to Warrigal or the honour board at the Council Chambers. There are 39 people who have their name on the honour board, most of them have passed away, but when you show your grandchildren they recognise their Grandfather is in the limelight. It's something for them to remember you by and it gives them something they think that they can achieve.