Clunes’ Patricia Cook has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the Clunes community.
A self-described farmer’s wife and mother of three children, Mrs Cook moved to Clunes from Tourello following her marriage in 1959.
She has been a volunteer in many community organisations and has even founded a few.
“I had a driving licence from the age of 18, which was pretty unusual in my time, and had a vehicle too.
“Once you join one thing and people think you might be handy, you get plenty of invitations to join more clubs and it snowballs,” she said. “But I’ve never done anything I haven’t enjoyed.”
She founded Clunes Pre-school, has been involved with the Clunes Primary School Parents Club (1980) and has been a member of Hepburn Shire Council’s Heritage Commitee (2004), the Rates Review Committee (2004) and is an ongoing member of Ullina Landcare.
In the earlier days of the Clunes and District Agricultural Society, Mrs Cook was involved in the women’s side of things and assisted in founding what was then known as the Ladies Committee.
“You would never segregate the two these days, but back then there were separate men’s and women’s committees,” she said.
“The men’s show committee got to the stage when they started to have exhibits like cooking and flower shows and they needed some of the wives to form a committee and get it going.”
She went on to be the committee’s president for many years.
Mrs Cook has been involved with Clunes Museum for over 25 years as a committee member, secretary, archivist and curator. She also saw the museum through three processes of accreditation, which assisted in attracting grants.
Mrs Cook also helped to establish Wesley College’s Year 9 campus in Clunes, acting as a negotiation team member from 1998 to 2000.
“I was called the ‘lady with the keys’ back then as I could get in anywhere with all the keys I had. It was all very hush hush back when I met with the then principle of Wesley College and Hepburn Shire Council.
“The college was specifically looking for somewhere where the campus was central in the town and where it was set up so the students were in walking distance of the shops, sporting facilities and everything else they wanted to do,” she said. “And Clunes had all that.
“I felt very guilty at the time as I wasn’t able to tell anybody, especially at the Uniting Church, but it’s worked out very well for Wesley and for the community,” she said.
“I am very honoured and completely over-awed by the whole thing, to be honest. It’s a huge honour.
“It was a bit of a shock really and I just feel really honoured to have been chosen,” she said.