Former Guyra citizen of the year Dot Vickery has received the Order of Australia in this year's Australia Day honours for her service to local government and to the community of Guyra.
"I've always done a certain amount of community work," Mrs Vickery said. "You don't do things for accolades; you do them because you want the community to progress."
She found out she was nominated for the OAM five months ago, then received the confirmation just before Christmas.
"I cried for the first two days that I got the first letter, to think that people thought that much of me," Mrs Vickery said. "A lot of people do a lot of things; to be picked is totally overwhelming. It took me a long time to get my head around it."
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Mrs Vickery served on the Guyra Shire Council from 2008 to 2016. As a member of the aged care committee, she campaigned for 10 years for the new Kolora Aged Care Facility, which was finally built in 2018.
Kolora, Mrs Vickery said, was a passion because her father had nowhere to go in Guyra when he needed care. The committee realised a new building would be cheaper than extending the old building.
Mrs Vickery also went with Dave Mills to Sydney to put the case for the rail trail, and helped Martha Weiderman to set up the Business Chamber.
When Guyra was amalgamated with Armidale Dumaresq, Mrs Vickery sat on administrator Ian Tiley's advisory committee. "I felt Guyra was losing out, so I tried to push for it where I could," she said.
A brush with breast cancer at this time spurred on her community service, Mrs Vickery said.
"I had lots of things I felt I should do, so I just went into top gear! I love the community, and I could see so much happening with the amalgamation on the horizon and trying to get things done."
Mrs Vickery's list of community service is long. She is president of the the Guyra MPS Health Advisory Committee and of the Guyra Neighbourhood Centre. "I've always had a great interest in the Hub, because it deals with people in need in the community," she said.
She is a steward (and former head steward) at the Guyra Show; and member (and former president) of the Guyra Garden Club. She has volunteered for the NSW Cancer Council's Daffodil Day since 1995, and been a member and volunteer at the New England Wig Library.
Mrs Vickery is also vice-president of the Guyra Historical Museum. When the Argus interviewed her, she was volunteering there. It was not her roster day - but, typically, she was doing what needed to be done.
"Twenty people turned up a few years back to say you'll never get the museum open; we'll never have enough workers," Mrs Vickery remembered. "Dr Tiley gave us a small $10,000 to paint it, do it up, and what have you. Martha, Dot [Lockyer] and I worked really hard; we got the first grant for $60,000, and then a second grant.
"It was a hell of a lot of work getting the grants, and then we had to physically do it without very many volunteers. From that big meeting, it's back to six or eight volunteers again. That annoys me," she admitted.
Mrs Vickery encourages more people to be involved in community service.
"Everything's going to change after these fires and this drought, because people have had to volunteer and support other people where they just did their own thing in their own world," she said.
"It's made people aware a lot of people in the community are really struggling. I've seen a wonderful job by the young CWA team who work out of the Hub to donate. They've reached out to a lot of people on the land who just struggled along; many of the employees don't have jobs now. That's a worry.
"I've tried to support everything I can to keep people going, because it's one of those worlds. You've got to try and help the community."