When Janet Lambert moved to Vacy with her husband Ken and young family in 1970 she knew just how to make new friends: get involved in community organisations.
More than 50 years later Mrs Lambert has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to her local community in the 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours List.
The great-grandmother said the award "came out of the blue".
"I thought it can't be for me, it must be somebody else's," she said.
"I was most surprised of course. It's not something you do to get recognition. You do things just to be part of the community."
Her husband Ken was awarded an OAM in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours List, also recognising his service to the Vacy community.
The couple moved from Muswellbrook when they bought the Vacy General Store which they ran for five years.
After the couple sold the store Mrs Lambert then went back to teaching. She taught mostly Kindergarten and Year 1 - students she described as "little angels" - for most of the 17 years she was at Vacy Public School.
The couple's three children all went through Vacy Public School and while one son attended Maitland Boys High School the community - and the Lamberts - rallied to get a bus from Vacy to Dungog High School which their other children attended.
When she retired from teaching in 1991 Mrs Lambert became more involved in the Vacy and District Red Cross which she had joined in 1970 and still attends the monthly meetings.
"Red Cross has been my major (organisation) to work for," she said.
"It's such a good cause, a lot of the money raised stays in the Hunter. I've enjoyed the fire brigade as well."
Mrs Lambert was notified she was to receive the award award back in early April and admits keeping it quiet had been the hardest part.
She said she confided in her children who have been a great support while she undergoes treatment for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Her involvement in the local community includes:
Vacy and District Red Cross
- Member, since 1970
New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Vacy Brigade
- Secretary, 1998-2014.
- Member, Management Team, 2012-2014.
- Life Member, since 2018.
- Operational Member, since 1987.
- Honorary Member, 1971-1987.
- Auxiliary Member, since 1971.
Meals on Wheels
- Member, Dungog Neighbourcare, since 1994.
- Member, Vacy Meals on Wheels, 1991-1994.
Vacy School of Arts
- Board Member, 1976-2015.
- Member, Management Committee, 1973-2012.
- Committee Member, Vacy Sportsground Management Committee, Dungog Shire Council, 1972-2018.
- Committee Member, Parents and Citizens Association, Vacy Public School, 1973-1994.
- Volunteer, Silver City Bush Treadlers Charity, supporting the Royal Flying Doctor Service, since 1994.
Awards and recognition include:
- 50 Year Long Service Medal, Red Cross, 2021.
- New South Wales Service Award, Red Cross, 2020.
- National Medal and Clasp, 2014.
- Long Service Medal and Clasp, New South Wales Rural Fire Service, 2012.
- New South Wales Rural Fire Service Long Service Award (15 years), 2001.
Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia. If you know someone worthy, nominate them now at www.gg.gov.au.
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