Penny Davies, Anne Conway and James Lerk.

The six Bendigo people listed in the Queen’s Birthday honours list may have varied backgrounds but they are all distinguished by the characteristics of generosity and persistence.

Anne Conway has lived in Bendigo for 40 years and says she quickly adopted an attitude of not only enjoying Bendigo’s lifestyle but working in return to give back more and more to community organisations.

“I spent many years searching for my place in the world,” Ms Conway said.   

“In my younger years I was fortunate to be mentored by people I respected and admired in virtually all areas of my life.

“I find that I am now able to repay that karma as I am often able to give young people guidance.

“I am very overwhelmed, happy and grateful, especially to those people who nominated me.”

Ms Conway has had an acclaimed career as a country and western singer, a community radio broadcaster and business manager on Phoenix FM, an advocate and tireless worker for indigenous people, an aged care volunteer and as a member of Empowering Eaglehawk.

“Looking back on both my professional and private life, I can truly say my life has been rich and varied with many twists and turns,” Ms Conway said.

A former columnist with the Bendigo Weekly, James Lerk is one of Bendigo’s favourite people. His abiding interest in Bendigo’s history has meant that it has in essence been preserved.

Among Mr Lerk’s many achievements are several books on Bendigo’s history, his support of other local historians and more than 20 years of writing columns for the Weekly.

Mr Lerk was also instrumental in the preservation of the old police barracks in Rosalind Park, and the Town Hall.

As founding director of the Bendigo Trust he ensured the preservation of our trams and the Central Deborah Gold Mine.

Dr Penny Davies’ credentials are testament to her belief in the power of education and knowledge.

After starting her career as a nurse, she went on to teach, studied professional writing and completed her doctorate on the history of higher education in Bendigo.

But much of Dr Davies’ life has been defined by her two children Megan and Justin, who tragically succumbed to Cystic Fibrosis.   

She founded the Cystic Fibrosis support group in Bendigo and is a stalwart of organ donation programs such as the Heart and Lung Trust’s Second Chance Accommodation. Dr Davies is Bendigo’s sole AM recipient in this year’s awards.

Dr Davies is an exemplar of the adage “if you want a job done, give it to a busy woman”.

Other recipients of the Order of Australia Medal are Ken Gloster for services to lawn bowls, John Carroll for services to the sailing community and Audrey Drechsler for services to agriculture and the community.

– Dianne Dempsey