He’s one of Broken Hill’s best known residents and when you look at the groups and club’s John Carney’s been involved with over the years it’s little surprise that the popular accountant has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, better known as an OAM.
Mr Carney received the elite award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his services to the Broken Hill community and will travel to Sydney to receive the medal next month.
The roll-call of organisations 73-year-old Mr Carney has been involved with – and he still plays a major role every day – is nothing short of the very fabric of our town.
There’s the local RSL where he’s a Life Member and has helped organise the well-attended ANZAC Day parade since 1969. He’s been a member since 1967.
Then there’s his work with the Lions Club where he has held numerous roles and is often seen around town helping to man fund-raising BBQs.
The Musicians Club has also benefited from Mr Carney’s work, where he was a Board member between 1999 and 2001, and he’s been treasurer of the West Broken Hill Rifle Club, a post he’s held since 2013.
He’s been involved in the local community for so long he’s had people in their 30s say they remember him when they were at school when he first organised ANZAC Day parades they took part in.
“Now a lot of them have a family of their own and their children take part in the Parade too,” says Mr Carney.
How did his service to the community begin?
“It started off with me doing one thing, and all of a sudden someone says ‘Oh John does that, grab him and he might be able to help you out’, so that’s what I’ve done. It’s just rolled along from there.”
It’s not just about being available though – Mr Carney clearly has the sort of personality that sees him making friends with everyone, right across the city.
“I suppose it’s in my makeup. The friendships you learn through meeting people, that’s what happens.
“You always have a smile on your face and away you go.”
He points out that being involved with the RSL and Lions in particular means along with other members he is out and about in the community meeting people all the time, and clearly he doesn’t like to say no…
“You just volunteer and because you’ve got Anzac Day and I’ve been involved with organising the parade, been doing that since 1969, I haven’t had a year off and I’ve been doing that for 53 years.
“When we do the Parade we have about 300 schoolchildren march with us, and you see these 30 year olds and they say John you’re still doing the march and I say, yes I am and they say you were doing the march when we were still at school. I say that’s alright, no worries, and they have got their own families now, but people don’t forget you.”
He says part of his success in making friends is down to the inherently friendly Broken Hill community.
He says the town he was born in has changed “a little bit over the years” with mining still important but tourism has grown, but he says the friendliness and the welcome is still there.
“You’re brought up with it,” he says.
“With the young people today, life changes but as long as the youngsters keep welcoming people into the town well then you are half way to what you want to do.
“People do look after each other. You know people who live four or five houses away from you, your neighbours all look after each other. You go to the big cities you might not know your neighbour for the next 10 years.”
Mr Carney is married to Nola and they have two children and three grandchildren.
Mr Carney learnt boilermaking when he left school but later did an accounting course and worked for local clubs, ending up being assistant manager at the Musos for around 20 years.
“So that wasn’t too bad at all and now I help out local organisations with their bookwork.”
He’s also a Justice of the Peace and that too leads to life-long friendships.
“People want a paper signed and while they’re doing that you go and have a cup of tea or a coffee while you’re doing it because they always welcome you in and say thank-you for helping us out and nice to meet you, so you’ve already met another three or four people, and that’s what you do.”
But while making friends and working for the community is something Mr Carney simply does, getting awarded for it came as a surprise, just as it did when he won a Premier’s Award back in 2002.
How did he feel when he got the call about the OAM?
“I was pretty overwhelmed and shocked by it and thought what’s going on here.
“I don’t expect awards or anything. I just do what I do. It’s all about helping the community but there are people out there who watch you no matter what type of work you do out in the community, and all of a sudden, bang,
I’ve got this is award. It’s nice to be recognised.”
Here’s a list of Mr Carney’s community involvement, as recognised by the Governor General and Queen Elizabeth II.
MEDAL (OAM) OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION
Mr Richard John Carney for service to the community of Broken Hill.
BROKEN HILL SUB-BRANCH, THE RETURNED AND SERVICES LEAGUE OF AUSTRALIA
Assistant Treasurer, since 1969.
Parade Organiser, ANZAC Day, since 1969.
Member, since 1967.
BROKEN HILL GALLIPOLI MEMORIAL FOUNDATION
Secretary, since 2005.
BROKEN HILL SUB-BRANCH,
ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA INC
Treasurer, since c1994.
Foundation Member, since
Life Member, current.
LIONS CLUB OF BROKEN HILL
Public Officer, Welfare Officer, and Chairman, World Services Day, current.
Recycle for Sight Australia,
since circa 2010.
President, one year.
Member, since 1995.
BROKEN HILL MUSICIANS
Board Member, 1999-2001.
Past Player and Committee
Member, Broken Hill Cameron Pipe Band.
COMMUNITY – OTHER
Treasurer, West Broken Hill Rifle Club, since 2013.
Volunteer, Silverlea Inc, 1990-1997.
Member/Coordinator, Safe Sight, since circa 2010.
Justice of the Peace, since 1989.
Honorary Ranger, Broken Hill City Council, 1990.
Transport Escort, Challenge Foundation (disability support services), 1993, and Cleaner, 1990-1993.
Relief Steward, Broken Hill Sturt Club, 1989.
Assistant Secretary Manager, Broken Hill Masonic Club, 1971-1989.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
Premiers Community Award,
Lions Club Service, 2002.