By Andrew Humphries
Tasmanian Australia Day Honours recipient Helen Geard’s first congratulatory call came at 6.45am on Australia Day.
Her phone ran hot throughout the rest of the day with calls and texts from many friends, wellwishers and fellow Claremont-Bagdad congregation members delighted with the news of her honour.
Helen was one of a number of Victorian and Tasmanian Uniting Church members recognised in the annual Australia Day Honours List released by the Governor-General.
Helen was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division for significant service to youth and the community.
Helen is secretary of the Claremont-Bagdad congregation, served two terms on the Synod’s Victorian and Tasmanian Property Trusts, and is a member of the Standing Committee.
The nomination also recognised Helen’s contribution to Girl Guides Australia, Girl Guides Tasmania, the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania, Rural Youth Tasmania, and Landcare.
Helen said she was deeply honoured to be recognised with an AM in the Honours list.
“I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by it at the moment, but it’s nice to be recognised for the things that I love doing,” she said.
“The Uniting Church is a big part of that and I think a big part of being a Christian is service.
“God gives us gifts and talents and asks us to use them, and if I can use them to make the world a better place that’s what I want to do.”
Helen credits her parents’ deep faith for instilling in her a love of serving the community.
“Mum and Dad were very faithful servants of the Church, and Mum still is,” she said.
“Their deep faith was a very big part of what they did in serving the community, and they were wonderful role models.”
Former Uniting Church member, the late Dr James Richard May from Heidelberg in Melbourne, was also made a Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division.
James was choirmaster of Rosanna Methodist Church (and then Rosanna Uniting Church) from 1974-2012, secretary of its management committee from 2005-12, and also a former member of Heidelberg Scots Uniting Church.
He was also a member of the Synod’s Project Control Building Committee from 2015-23.
Uniting and Methodist churches member Ronald Geoffrey Pickford from Wendouree was also made a Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division for significant service to the building design sector and to the community in a variety of roles.
Reverend Canon Professor Dorothy Ann Lee from Yarraville, an ordained Uniting Church Minister from 1984-2008, was recognised for her contribution to the Anglican Church.
A number of Uniting Church members were also recognised with Medals of the Order of Australia in the General Division.
Barbara Cecilia Alderton from Surrey Hills was recognised for her contribution to the Uniting Church’s Moorfields Community for Adult Care, as co-ordinator and chief nurse until 2000, former co-ordinator of Mont Calm Day Hospital and registered nurse there from 1977-89 and 1991-95.
Former lay preacher Lynette Edith Franklin from Nathalia was recognised for her community service in a range of roles.
Bruce Lindsay Murray from Surrey Hills was recognised for his contribution to St Columba’s Uniting Church in Balwyn, where he was chairman of the Church Council for three years and a Church Council member for five years.
Yarram Uniting Church member Elizabeth Karen Wynne was recognised for her service to the community of Yarram, ranging from its historical and agricultural societies to its golf club and Eisteddfod.
Geraldine Anderson from Box Hill North, a member of the Ringwood Uniting Church, was recognised for her contribution to vocational education.
Uniting Church Chaplain (Wing Commander) Rev Dr Lindsay Brian Carey was awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal for devotion to duty in moral injury research and the development of resources and training to support Australian Defence Force personnel.