Eight Central Coast residents have received an Order of Australia (OAM) medal and one has received an Emergency Services Medal in the King’s Birthday Honours List, announced on June 12.
Vanessa Anderson, OAM
Vanessa Anderson of Shelly Beach has been recognised for service to the community through charitable organisations, in particular awareness of Batten Disease.
Sadly she lost her nine-year-old son Jordan to the rare neurological genetic disorder which usually affects no more than 40 people in Australia at any given time.
In 1998 when Jordan was very young Anderson set up the Jordan’s Batten Disease Research Trust with the mission of funding research, to connect families and to promote awareness.
In 2001 she was asked to take on the Batten Disease Support and Research Association Australia and was Manager until 2016 as well as holding various Board roles through the years and is still Public Officer.
“There was just no contact out there between families and the Association presented a broader opportunity for families from all over Australia to connect and support each other going through something very difficult together,” Anderson said.
“We are the Australian chapter of a worldwide group and its registered here in Shelly Beach so we’ve always been a Central Coast-based charity.
“The organisation provides family support services such as conferences, a lot of education, and we’re now fortunate to have a researcher on our team who helps organise grants to fund research.
“We have a good team and hopefully do some wonderful things in coming years.”
There is no cure for Batten Disease but now there is a treatment that slows the degression which affects development skills such as standing, walking, talking and worsening over time to include learning difficulties, poor concentration and progressive loss of language skills and speech.
“This honour is very timely as it was only last Friday (June 9) that we held International Batten Disease Awareness Day,” Anderson said.
“I’d like to thank the unknown person who nominated me and there’s been a lot of people on this journey with me and helped me get to this point.”
Yvonne Crestani, OAM
Yvonne Crestani of East Gosford has been recognised for service to community health due to her work as Founder and Director of The Crestani Foundation since 2012.
Crestani’s husband was chief radiotherapist at St Vincents Hospital when he died of cancer in 2006.
“In 2007 I decided I would like to do something as my husband’s legacy and my family supported me with some money to start off the fundraising,” she said.
This led to the establishment of The Crestani Foundation, which has provided 52 scholarships to health professionals and students for research and studies into better outcomes for cancer patients.
“We decided the best way to improve treatment was by education; the better the education of the people treating cancer, the better the outcomes,” Crestani said.
“As well as providing scholarships to health professionals, we have also provided support for the Cancer Centre at Gosford Hospital.
“In our latest venture, we are assisting the Medical Institute in Gosford in researching cancer cells.
“By looking at cells in cancer patients, they hope to tailor treatments specifically for each person.
“This will be particularly helpful for myeloma patients.
“It is hoped patients will eventually be able to medicate themselves at home, saving them the trauma of regular hospital visits.”
Crestani said the foundation was constantly on the lookout for funding opportunities to help finance its ongoing work.
She was named Citizen of the Year by Central Coast Council in 2019 and Woman of the Year for the Electorate of Terrigal in 2016.
Steven Fortey, OAM
Steven Fortey of Avoca Beach has been honoured for service to the community of Avoca Beach.
He said he was “at first surprised maybe a little embarrassed” by the award, but ultimately “very chuffed”.
“I am glad people think of me highly enough to recommend me and feel blessed to be part of such a great community,” he said.
A teacher for more than 45 years prior to his retirement in 2020, Fortey spent the past 25 years of his career at Kincumber High School.
“It’s a great school with a wonderful staff – and of course Avoca Beach is in the draw area for the school,” he said.
An Avoca Beach local for almost 40 years, Fortey said he had been here “almost long enough to be called a local”.
His work in the community is extensive.
He was a coach with Avoca Beach Rugby Club for 10 years and is the current president of the Avoca Beach Community Association.
He performed a range of volunteer roles with Avoca Beach Surf Club in the 1980s and is the former president of the Avoca Beach Theatre Preservation Group.
“I edit a quarterly magazine, the Avoca Beach News – and recently organised, with a team of volunteers, the ANZAC Dawn Ceremony, which our Community Association combines with the Surf Club to put on for the local community,” he said.
“The Avoca Beach Community Association meets bi-monthly to discuss local issues and take action where necessary.
“We organised fundraisers for local athletes and with George Brand Real Estate offered respite accommodation for bushfire victims, as well donating to flood victims.”
Jonathan Keren-Black, OAM
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black of Narara has received an OAM for service to the Jewish and wider community.
Currently driving around Australia after living in Melbourne for 20 years, Keren-Black plans to relocate to the Narara Ecovillage next year and is looking forward to becoming an active member of the Central Coast community.
Rabbi at the Leo Baeck Centre for Progressive Judaism since 2003, he was a founding member of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association (2003) and the Jewish Ecological Coalition (2004) and is a former committee member of Progressive Judaism Victoria.
He was also a founding member of Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (formerly Green Faith Australia), helped plant seeds for Elsternwick Jewish Arts Hub (2000s), was involved in establishing the Jewish radio station J-Air in Melbourne in 2012 and established J-CAM, Jewish Community Arts and Media Australia, in 2011.
Keren-Black was co-author of A Judaism for the Twenty-First Century and Hebrew from Zero and received the President’s Award at the Union of Progressive Judaism Conference in 2022 and the Premier’s Award for Community Harmony, Jewish Christian and Muslim Association of Australia, in 2007.
He said he was “very honoured” to receive an OAM and his goal was to work more widely in the community.
“Narara Ecovillage is trying to demonstrate how we can live making less impact on the environment, working in harmony with Traditional Custodians and addressing the issues of housing affordability and accessibility,” he said.
“I am looking forward to becoming part of that community and being more involved in arts and music and forest clearing.
“I will be carrying on my online Introduction to Judaism course and hopefully organising some weekend experiences.
“There is a progressive Jewish community based in Gosford and I am looking forward to becoming involved.”
Peter Lawley, OAM
Peter Lawley of Gosford has received an OAM for service to veterans and their families.
Lawley said receiving the medal was “a huge honour and very humbling”.
The son of a WWII veteran who was wounded in battle, he has always had “great empathy” for the families of veterans.
“I used to run public hospitals before moving into operating an aged care and retirement village at Lake Macquarie which eventually became part of RSL Care,” he said.
“I made the move to Legacy about 14 years ago.”
Lawley has been the CEO of Brisbane Water Legacy since 2010 and has also been involved with the organisation on a national level, serving as National Aged Care Co-ordinator, Advocacy Committee ( 2012-2021), Acting Chief Executive, Legacy Australia (2018) and Delegate, National Aged Care Alliance, and the Department of Veterans’ Affair’s National Aged and Community Care Forum (2013-2021).
“You get a great satisfaction in working for Legacy,” he said.
“The appreciation we see from war widows and veterans’ families is so rewarding.”
Lawley has also been a Board Member of Gosford Erina Business Chamber since 2020 and President since 2022.
“I am a lifelong Central Coast resident,” he said.
“I grew up in Gosford and am very passionate about giving something back and helping the business community across the entire Central Coast.”
Anthony Morton, OAM
Legacy has always been a huge part of Anthony Morton’s life and his King’s Birthday Honour for service to war widows and families has come at an auspicious time – this being Legacy’s Centenary Year and the celebration of his 78th birthday on June 12.
“I was a junior Legacy ward when my father died at age 47 leaving mum with four children, and Melbourne Legacy came to our rescue with tremendous support,” he said.
“I would never have been able to finish high school if not for Legacy.”
Morton became an Army engineer, with overseas postings and service in Vietnam and New Guinea, achieving the rank of Colonel before retiring in 1990.
He says that literally the day he resigned he started his involvement with Legacy in Canberra.
“Before then I didn’t think it was fair to get involved as I was moving around a lot with the Army,” he said.
Morton and an ex-Army fellow also set up their own financial planning business specialising in retirements for senior officers and senior public servants.
More than 20 years ago Morton and his wife, Pam, headed for the Central Coast and now live at Long Jetty – and he joined the team at Brisbane Water Legacy.
He has been on the Board of Directors for all but one year since 2003, has been President twice, Vice-President, chaired a number of committees over the years and is now the Finance Director and chairman of the Finance, Risk Management and Investment Committee.
“I look on this as an accolade for all the volunteers that have been working hard over the years for Legacy, particularly in our club here, and also for the salaried staff that we have here at Brisbane Water Legacy – they are absolutely second-to-none and I’ve never worked outside the Army with such a dedicated and great group of people who are led by a really topnotch CEO, Peter Lawley,” Morton said.
David Smallman, OAM
David Smallman of Wyoming has received an OAM for service to the community of the Central Coast, and to cricket.
Smallman has had a lifelong love of cricket, starting out as an opening bowler for Gosford in 1954, when he was just 14.
“I played cricket for 36 years straight and barely missed a game – and that’s a lot of cricket,” he said.
“You used to have to play where you lived so I played with Gosford, East Gosford, Lisarow Ourimbah and Narara Wyoming over that time.
“I played in six or seven first grade premierships.
“Because I played until I was in my early 50s, I slipped down the grades as I got older and ended up playing in fourth grade.
“By then I was pretty much a slow bowler.”
A Life Member of Narara Wyoming Cricket Club, Smallman was Club President from 1984-1988 and was named Sportsman of the Year in 1975-1976.
He has also served as President and Board Chairman of Central Coast Cricket (2002-2003 and 1991-1992) and President of Gosford-Wyong District Cricket Association (1991-1998) as well as being a delegate to the NSW Country Cricket Association and NSW Cricket Association (1995-1998).
He counts as once of his greatest achievements spearheading the move which saw the Central Coast Cricket attain zone status in its own right about 20 years ago, after formerly being part of the Hunter zone.
Smallman has also been involved in a multitude of community organisations and still goes to watch Narara Wyoming play cricket every week of the season.
“Cricket is as strong now as it’s even been and the Central Coast is still doing very well in the reps,” he said.
Robyn Hawes, OAM
Robyn Hawes of Gosford received an OAM for service to the community of Rookwood but was unable to be contacted.
Ian Morrow, Emergency Services Medal
Marine Rescue Central Coast Unit Commander Ian Morrow was one of four Marine Rescue NSW volunteers to be recognised with an Emergency Services Medal for his service to the Central Coast and Newcastle communities.
Morrow joined the then Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol in 2007 (it became Marine Rescue NSW in 2009), serving as a volunteer for both the Central Coast and Newcastle Units in various capacities.
During the 2022 Flood emergency, he co-ordinated and led the Central Coast Unit team to assist with flood relief for properties on the MacDonald River near Wisemans Ferry.
Morrow is a qualified trainer and assessor with a TAFE Cert IV in Training and Assessment and while primarily involved with the Central Coast and Newcastle Units, he has become the subject matter expert in ongoing training for the region’s coxswains and watch officers.
He also is a qualified NSW Boat Licence trainer.
In the past few years he has added administration of Marine Rescue Units to his abilities and experience.
In 2015, Morrow became Deputy Unit Commander of the Newcastle Unit for four years while also undertaking the role of Operations Officer, Trainer and Assessor and Training Systems Officer for both the Newcastle and Central Coast Units.
He was elected Unit Commander of the Central Coast Unit in 2022 and also continues with training and other related duties at the Newcastle Unit.
Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Alex Barrell said being awarded the Emergency Services Medal was a fitting tribute to Morrow.
“Ian’s dedication to the Central Coast Unit and community makes him a worthy recipient of the Emergency Services Medal and Marine Rescue NSW is extremely thankful for his commitment to the service and the local boating community,” Barrell said.