29 January 2021

May Blacka's love for Cobargo sees her awarded in 2021 Australia Day Honours

| Albert McKnight
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Cobargo's May Blacka.

Cobargo’s May Blacka has been presented a Medal of the Order of Australia as part of the 2021 Australia Day Honours. Photo: Supplied.

For three months the Cobargo community took care of May Blacka and her five children while her husband was in a Sydney hospital.

The love between the NSW South Coast town and May was mutual, and for years she supported and fundraised for its Rural Fire Service, golf club, swimming pool and rugby clubs.

She has now been recognised for her service to Cobargo with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), presented in the 2021 Australia Day Honours.

“I’m very honoured,” says the 88-year-old. “There’s a lot of other people who should have got it before me.”

May has lived in Cobargo since the 1950s, and says it was an event in the 1970s that proved how wonderful the community is to her.

Back then, her five children were all under the age of eight. One day, her husband got a fish hook in his eye and was taken to a Sydney hospital.

“He was there for three months,” she says. “We had very little money in the bank and the hospital bills had to be paid monthly.”

However, the town’s community was there to support her. May was given regular parcels of local meat from Benny’s Butchery, which is still operating. She would go into the grocery store and be given a box of everything she needed. Then she would go to the bakery and be told she did not have to pay.

“They were always there,” says May. “They’ve been wonderful to me all my life. It’s a wonderful little town.”

Eventually her husband got his sight back. When he passed away 15 years ago, May began fundraising every year for different causes by selling flowers and making fruit pies that she sold over her fence.

May Blacka sitting indoors.

May Blacka has been recognised for her fundraising efforts in the NSW South Coast town of Cobargo. Photo: Supplied.

In February 2021, she will fundraise for BlazeAid, which she says has been doing a fantastic job in Cobargo since the Black Summer bushfires.

May’s house was saved thanks to her neighbours when fire struck the town on New Year’s Eve 2019, but she says there has sadly been a lot of deaths in her town since then.

“People have passed on; they can’t take it any more,” she says. “We’ve lost a lot of oldies; it’s a shame.”

May says she has been travelling well since the disaster. She was in hospital before Christmas with low blood pressure, but is doing much better now.

“They said I should stop doing stuff, but if I stopped I wouldn’t be here now,” she says. “You’ve got to keep moving.”

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