A LONG list of achievements and voluntary work for service to the community of Bourke accompanies Robert Ridge's Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
The 85-year-old today receives the highest award in the Queen's Birthday Honours List among more than 400 proud Australians.
Born on October 31, 1927 - just in time for Melbourne Cup - on a property at Bourke, his volunteering spirit, spanning more than 60 years, began at home.
"The family had been involved in horse racing," he said.
"Because it (Bourke) was so remote, no one left to go anywhere so they were involved in community work."
A young Bob attended school at Dubbo and was a prefect at Dubbo High School.
He said he was pretty keen on sport especially rugby league.
After finishing his leaving certificate, he went to the University of Sydney and graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in 1951.
"I felt I had a guilty conscience because my family had gone through a lot of hardship to put me through school as at the time the farming land was prosperous," he said.
"It was time to put my education back into the family and the country."
Mr Ridge said volunteering ran in his blood and "once you get involved in one, it leads to another."
He vividly recalled the time he was involved with the Isolated Children's Parents' Association.
It all began at Bourke when a school hostel was going to close due to a lack of funds.
One mother with two children called an urgent meeting for those who were concerned.
A handful of women turned up but there were no men. The mother was determined and the outcome of the meeting did not faze her.
"She told them if their husbands didn't come to the next meeting, there will be trouble," he said.
At the next meeting, almost all the men attended.
From humble beginnings at Bourke, the organisation grew and spread across the country to be a powerful voice for those in remote areas.
Mr Ridge was elected as treasurer from 1972 to 1980 and a life member a few years later.
Each year the lobby group would meet at the federal conference gathering all state branches together.
At the time, he said the community thought education was expensive but today the cost was really high.
Mr Ridge also joined the NSW Farmers Association, the "grazier's union", and served as the chairman of the Enngonia branch.
"We were a strong political voice who were focused in getting a good deal for farmers," he said.
However, his real passion was sporting clubs.
From the early 1950s he was heavily involved in the Darling River Picnic Race Club and several other town race clubs across the region.
Whether it was his role as a board member of Racing NSW Country from 1996 to 2009 or life member of the Enngonia Race Club, he spent most of his energy volunteering for his love of sport.
Today Mr Ridge adds to his proud list of achievements and a Centenary Medal an OAM for his lifetime's worth of community work.
"My son had quizzed me on a few achievements and said I deserved it," he said, on receiving the nominee form.
Although he was "very pleased" of the award he was humbled to receive such an honour.
The OAM achiever encouraged Dubbo residents to experience the love, joy and satisfaction of volunteering.
"Find a place where you are interested and can be an asset," he said.
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