OAM recipient sports her honour with pride
RECEIVING an Order of Australia Medal has been a “surreal” experience for Whitsunday sports enthusiast Wendy Downes.
The 71-year-old was recognised for her service to the community and triathlon and running sports.
When her name was called at the ceremony on May 6 at Government House, Mrs Downes said she couldn’t help but think, “Wow, it’s really happening.”
“To be honoured in this way is just incredible,” she said. “It made me feel like I was really someone special.”
Mrs Downs has been involved in a cross-section of community events and organisations in the 17 years she has been a resident of the region.
This includes being a founding member of Zonta’s Whitsunday branch, Whitsunday co-ordinator for the Variety Club of Queensland’s Old Bags Lunch and a Queensland Cancer Council volunteer.
She co-ordinated the Whitsunday Relay for Life and Run for Cure fundraising programs and chaired the Queensland Relay for Life task force.
A keen athlete who believes there is no excuse not to be involved in community sports, Mrs Downes is a founding member of the Whitsunday Triathlon Club and pushed to create the first Airlie Beach Triathlon.
She is also the Whitsunday Running Club founding president and Airlie Beach Running Festival co-ordinator.
She said the ceremony provided an incredible opportunity to mix with the other recipients, which included Olympians and people involved in medical research.
She planned to join the Order of Australia association to help encourage and honour other contributing members of the Whitsunday community.
“Volunteers do things because they want to do it, not because they have to,” Mrs Downes said.
WELL DESERVED: Wendy Downes sipping on a glass of champagne in the gardens of Government House after being awarded her OAM.