WHETHER it's answering questions about meningococcal disease, or lobbying parliament for better access to vaccines, Australian wheelchair racer Eliza Jane Ault-Connell has always been passionate about awareness and education.
The 2003 Newcastle Young Citizen of the Year has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her "significant" service to community health, and her prowess as a Paralympic athlete.
Mrs Ault-Connell is now an Albury local, but the director of Meningococcal Australia lived and studied in Newcastle from 2000.
She took a break from racing in 2007 to have a family, but watching the Rio Games with her three children and "lit a fire" in her belly again. Last year, she won silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Mrs Ault-Connell contracted meningococcal when she was 16 years old.
"Back in the '90s there were no vaccines on the National Immunisation Program, and people didn't really know much about it," she said.
"I had the typical early symptoms, but we hadn't even heard of it when the doctors told my parents. I woke up one morning and felt unwell, not disastrously unwell, but by that night I was on life support and things progressed rapidly. I had both of my legs amputated and my fingers as well.
"But I have been able to turn what people may consider a misfortune into a pretty blessed and amazing life."
Serving business and community
FORMER Hunter Medical Research Institute chairman and regional wine stalwart Bob Kennedy has also been appointed a Member of the Order (AM) for significant service to business and the community of the Hunter. Mr Kennedy is chair of the controlled and associated entities committee at the University of Newcastle, treasurer of the Broke Fordwich private irrigation district board and owner of Beyond Broke Vineyard.
Treating as well as teaching
DOCTOR Nicholas Saltos, physician, conjoint associate clinical professor and founder of the Hunter Lung Cancer Clinic, received his appointment to a Member of the Order (AM) for significant service to medicine and education. Dr Saltos was a physician from 1974 to 2017 and is now an honorary medical officer at the John Hunter Hospital. He is also conjoint associate clinical professor at the University of Newcastle's medical school.
ALAN Keith Morris has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to wildlife conservation, particularly native bird life. Mr Morris, now of Laurieton, worked for the National Parks and Wildlife Service for more than 40 years and was involved in numerous conservation campaigns on the Central Coast.
ELERMORE Vale's Cathie Angelkovic was honoured for outstanding public service to Revenue New South Wales. As the Director of the Revenue NSW Collection Centre, Mrs Angelkovic was praised for successfully transforming a service delivery centre that provided very basic information into an award-winning collection centre, recognised nationally by both private and government industry groups.
Denman firefighter Gavin Bray was praised for his decades of dedication and exceptional commitment to leadership. He was appointed to Fire and Rescue NSW in July 1996 where he served as a retained firefighter for over 19 years before being promoted to the rank of Captain of the Denman Fire Brigade in September 2015.
QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY HONOURS:
- Professor Geoff Isbister honoured for work on snakes, spiders and poison
- Newcastle Freemason recognised for service
- Hunter building tycoon Bill McDonald awarded OAM
- Hunter historian Ed Tonks recognised with OAM
- OAM for Margot who says it's an honour
- Trevor put Morpeth on the map
- 'Polio tried to kill us and nothing else will': The force driving John and those like him