Festive fun: The first annual Window to Window street art festival on Friday was a massive success. Pictured are HOCUS youth group members Lucy Lindsay and Sienna Herbert who created the art displayed on the window of Andrew Vale and Associates in Carrier
For most people growing up in Benalla I’m sure an invitation from Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen is perhaps the last thing you might expect.
However, that is exactly what happened to former resident Anne-Maree Keenan, who even picked up an OBE along the way.
An OBE, or Order of the British Empire, is one of the highest honours a person in the UK can receive.
It is a title bestowed upon a person to honour their contribution to the arts or science, or to recognise outstanding work with a charity or welfare organisation.
Ms Keenan, the eldest daughter of Benalla’s Bill Keenan and Marg Mackerell, grew up locally before moving to Melbourne to attend university.
After qualifying as a podiatrist, Ms Keenan worked in public and private sector positions, while also teaching at La Trobe University and then the University of Western Sydney.
She left Australia and moved to Leeds in 2002 where she has lived ever since, and is now a Professor of Applied Health Research.
A former student of St Joseph’s Primary School and FCJ College, Ms Keenan still describes Benalla as home, and visits regularly.
‘‘My mum and her family still live here and I come back at least once a year to see them,’’ Ms Keenan said. ‘‘Much to my husband’s concern, Benalla is still home and always will be and I come back as often as I can.’’
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Proud: Benalla girl Anne-Maree Keenan receives an OBE from Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II.