LONG-SERVING Gerringong community member Ray Whiting now has a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) to add to an already impressive collection of awards.
‘‘I’m going to have to build another house to fit them all,’’ Mr Whiting quipped as he passed a wall full of certificates of appreciation.
The great grandfather of four said he was delighted but ‘‘surprised’’ to be awarded the OAM.
Mr Whiting was born in Woodend Victoria in 1923 and moved to Sydney in 1936. He lived his early adult life in Matraville.
He moved to the South Coast with late wife Joan and children David and Lyn in the early ’70s.
There were few other homes and cows over the back fence when he built his home in Fern Street 42 years ago.
At 90, an age when many are accepting help, Mr Whiting is still giving it. He is a visiting welfare officer at Gerringong’s Mayflower Retirement Village.
He was trustee of the Gerringong Sub-Branch, Returned and Services League of Australia since 1975; honorary treasurer 1973-2009.
‘‘I found out once you got in, it was very hard to get out,’’ Mr Whiting joked.
We was volunteer caretaker of the Gerringong RSL Memorial Hall, Gerringong and treasurer of the Gerringong Sub-Section of the Naval Association of New South Wales.
The one-time keen fisherman and traveller’s other community contributions include as a Meals on Wheels volunteer and head warden of the Gerringong Uniting Church.
Mr Whiting’s interest in the RSL can be traced back to his time in the Royal Australian Navy where he served for a time on a troop ship. He was demobilised but spent a further period with the reserves. Mr Whiting joined the RSL in 1941.
A career at sea which took Mr Whiting all over the world started with a year as a merchant seaman at the age of 16.
On leaving the RAN Mr Whiting took up carpentry and joinery.
After falling in love with Gerringong on a Christmas holiday, Mr Whiting and his family moved down and he took up a position with Kiama Council, where he worked for 18 years.
Mr Whiting’s wife Joan was cared for at Mayflower Village for about eight years before her death nine years ago. While she was there Mr Whiting would visit daily and help with her meals.
‘‘When she died I thought I better put a bit of something back into it and I have been doing that ever since.’’
‘‘I just go in and see people and talk to them. I just look at it like I’m helping out.’’
Mr Whiting visits Mayflower on Thursday and Friday afternoons, Saturday morning and helps with the Sunday church services.
Mr Whiting also has RSL Life Membership, the RSL Service Award and Meritorious Award.
In 2008 he was Made Kiama Municipality’s Citizen of the year.