25 January 2024

Selfless Capital Country residents recognised among nation's finest in Australia Day Honours

| Claire Sams
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man and woman standing in front of a sign on a country property

Marina Maguire said being included on the 2024 Australia Day Honours List was a shock, but it came with recognition of the work she did with her husband Ben. Photo: Harriet Maguire.

Capital Country residents are among the recipients of Australia Day Honours in recognition of some of the country’s finest citizens.

Two of those honoured are Bowning’s Marina and Ben Maguire, who were recognised for their work in their community and with war veterans.

In 2016, they co-founded Remount, a not-for-profit organisation at their farm that runs horsemanship programs for veterans and first responders.

Mrs Maguire received an OAM in the General Division, and Mr Maguire an AM in the General Division.

Mrs Maguire said receiving the honours for their work was “very surreal”.

“I can’t really believe it – for me, it’s not something I ever expected happening,” she said.

The pair are members of various veterans’ and community groups in the Yass Valley area. Mr Maguire is chair and a council member of the National Museum of Australia, and chairs the Marchmont Racecourse Trust.

He said the couple was inspired to start Remount after meeting an American marine, who introduced them to equine therapy during a campdraft at Longreach.

“We’ve since hosted over 450 people, and we’ve got dozens and dozens of stories of people who feel better about the world or have made breakthroughs in their life because they’ve come to Remount,” he said.

“They feel more connected with new friendships or they’ve got more confidence.

“It gives me great joy to see the transformation and to remind them of what they’re capable of.”

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Ronald Miller was also among those in regional NSW to receive an OAM in the General Division, for his services to his community of Gundaroo.

Mr Miller is the chair of Gundaroo Park Trust, and a founding member, vice-president and publicity and promotion officer of Gundaroo and District Historical Society.

The business owner has also been a member of the Gundaroo Rural Fire Brigade since the 1970s.

Additionally, Bungendore’s Natalie Cooper and Wamboin’s Rodney Dix received the Public Service Medal, while Isaac Te Ao Cotter received an OAM in the General Division for his service to the Maori community of Australia and New Zealand.

The Karabar man’s accomplishments include being a board member of Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services Australia Inc and director of Tumanako Maori Cultural Performing Group, and he has been a member of the New South Wales Justices Association Inc since 2008.

Other achievements include presenting a program on Canberra Multicultural Service Radio FM 91.1 for several years and serving as the ACT delegate to the National Committee for Maori and Creative Arts (Australia) for more than a decade.

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Catherine “Katie” Walker, who moved to Yass Valley in 1984, was also included on the 2024 Australia Day Honours List.

“I feel quite humbled by it,” she said.

“There’s a lot of other people that deserve it in our community. I was surprised and felt honoured to be given that honour.”

Ms Walker received an OAM in the General Division, for service to education and to the community.

“I moved to Yass in 1984 and it was probably the following year that I got involved in doing things in the community,” she said.

Despite being new to Yass, she wasn’t new to giving a helping hand to people in need, having helped to raise money to train guide dogs while living in Sydney.

“I’d always seen in my family that if one’s fortunate enough to be able to give back, one should,” she said.

“I went to boarding school, and there was a community theme where helping others was encouraged.”

Ms Walker was involved in fundraising to build the aged-care facilities of Horton House and Warmington Lodge, and has served as the president of Friends of Horton House and Warmington Lodge (Yass Valley Aged Care) since 1991.

“The other cause I’m passionate about is education,” she said.

In 1999, Ms Walker was a founding member of the Yass District Education Foundation (formerly the Country Education Foundation Yass).

“The group aims to help regional children with tertiary education, whether that be university, TAFE or apprenticeships,” she said.

“They may be not as well off, financially, as other students and in a lot of cases, they’re the first generation in the family to actually go and study at that [tertiary] level.”

Ms Walkler was also named Citizen of the Year by Yass Valley Council in 2007.

In 2024, 739 people were recognised with an OAM (General Division) in the Australia Day Honours List.

For the second time since the Australian honours system was introduced, more women than men have been recognised (at 50.5 per cent).

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