The prelude to the Presentation was that I had been advised on 10th April, by the Governor General’s office in Canberra, that I was being considered for an Order of Australia Medal , (O.A.M.), ‘For Service to the Community of Benalla’ and if I was prepared to accept it, I should sign an acceptance form and a confidentiality agreement .This, I was only too happy to do.
On 28th May I received a further letter from Canberra confirming the award. I was to keep the award secret from anybody, until a press release had been made on the Queen’s birthday, Monday 10th June. How difficult was this! I was highly excited.
My grandson, Darcy was celebrating his 10th birthday on Sunday 9th June at our place, and the whole extended O’Shannessy family was in attendance. I thought that it was an appropriate time to break the silence, and so made the announcement to my family. They were all very happy..
Once the news was published I was overwhelmed by the many cards and messages of congratulations. At Rotary I made the statement “Humble …be damned. I am proud”.
Then the presentation date was to be organised, and here I had a problem. Because of the large numbers of recipients, the number of guests was limited to two family members each. No additional entrees would be issued!...... I have a wife and four children; five into two won’t go! Fortunately the two boys were not concerned about attending, but my two girls, in their own little way, indicated that they, individually, expected to attend. How could I avoid offending one of them? I’m not one to be persuasive, but I rang Government house and spoke to a very understanding lady. I followed this up with a letter to Canberra, and unobstrusively, a few days later, an extra ticket arrived in the mail. All had been saved!
There was great joy when I advised that the three women of my family could attend the presentation.
On perusing the list of recipients, my son and my son-in-law noted that Cadel Evans, the winner of the Tour de France, had also been awarded an O.A.M. They each purchased a Cadel Evans shirt for me to obtain his signature on!.
On the morning of Friday 1st November, my daughter Cathy arrived from Wodonga and drove the other three of us to Government House to arrive by 10 a.m., the stipulated time. Guests assembled in the large Hall, while recipients gathered in the adjoining dining room. We were seated in alphabetical order and I sat with Ross Oakley, a former St.Kilda footballer and former C.E.O. of the VFL and AFL.
All recipients then took our turn to be presented with our medallions by the Governor, and to have our photos taken with him.
It was, indeed, a memorable occasion.
15 May 2017