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Grafton businessman Des Harvey has received an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) in recognition of his unwavering support for the Clarence Valley community. Image: Emma Pritchard

Clarence Valley residents honoured with OAMs

Emma Pritchard

Two Clarence Valley men have been recognised for their outstanding community contributions in the 2022 Australia Day Honours List.

Widely admired, respected and valued for their continual support and involvement in local organisations, businesses and charities, Des Harvey of Grafton and Robert McFarlane from Ulmarra have both been awarded an OAM (Order of Australia Medal).

Robert McFarlane OAM

Robert McFarlane of Ulmarra, has received an OAM for his ongoing dedication to his local community and his many years of service to local organisations. Image: Contributed

Describing himself as shocked and humbled to receive an OAM, Mr McFarlane enjoys having an active role in several local organisations and being able to give something back to the local community he has been a part of for more than 40 years.

The current President of Grafton Meals on Wheels, Mr McFarlane is also a volunteer for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, a member of Grafton Legacy where he has proudly assumed a number of roles, Vice President of the Grafton RSL sub-Branch, President of Rathgar Lodge Auxiliary and Vice President of the Clarence Valley Vietnam Veterans.

After being called up for national service in 1965, Mr McFarlane spent a year in Vietnam and upon returning to Australia, became involved with the RSL and Grafton Legacy to help the families of those who did not return home from war.   

“My wife and I have always been of the opinion that if you belong to an organisation, you should be prepared to give it your assistance to the best of your ability, and that is what I always try and do,” he said.

“I don’t do what I do to receive recognition, I do what I do because I enjoy it and I’m helping those around me.”

After enjoying a game of golf in the morning, Mr McFarlane celebrated his OAM by having a quiet evening at home with his loved ones.

Des Harvey OAM

Grafton businessman Des Harvey has received an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) in recognition of his unwavering support for the Clarence Valley community. Image: Emma Pritchard

Describing himself as initially surprised and honoured to receive an OAM, many Clarence Valley residents would call Des Harvey a worthy recipient.

A well respected and established local businessman and strong vocal advocate for the Clarence Valley, Mr Harvey has been involved with community activities and events since the age of 17.

Among his many local achievements, Mr Harvey said helping to develop and transform Jaycee Park in Dobie Street into a popular and well-loved outdoor recreational area, and campaigning alongside Ron Bell to help deliver a much needed (and much longed for) second river crossing between Grafton and South Grafton are memorable highlights.

“It’s very rewarding when you see your hard work pay off for the people around you,” he said.

Mr Harvey has been involved with several local organisations including the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Grafton Rotary and Midday Rotary, the Masonic Lodge, the Grafton Chamber of Commerce, the Grafton and Maclean Show societies, and City Centre Traders.

His current focus is seeing construction commence during the first term of Government on the $263 million upgrade of Grafton Base Hospital (GBH).