A BERTRAM resident who has devoted 41 years of her life volunteering for scouts and the RSL has received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Kay Cleak received the OAM (General Division) for service to veterans and their families, and to youth through scouts.
Mrs Cleak said she was in tears when she heard the news and was excited and humbled to be a recipient of the award.
“Volunteering has just been a huge part of my life since I joined scouts and the RSL,” she said.
“I enjoy interacting with like-minded people.”
She comes from a family with a long and rich military history and served in the army as a cook during the 1960s.
“I have an understanding of veterans and the military so I just enjoy being with those kind of people,” she said.
Mrs Cleak first got involved with the scouts in 1976 and joined the RSL when she moved to Albany in 1993 with her husband Digger who was a Vietnam Veteran and served for 20 years in the Royal Australian Navy.
In Albany, Mrs Cleak continued her involvement with scouts and the local RSL as its treasurer and secretary.
Among her many roles in scouts over 35 years, Mrs Cleak was a district commissioner for three years, assistant branch commissioner for six years, a branch training member and district cub scout leader.
She received two scout awards, the medal of merit and Silver Koala.
“I’ve always had a real interest in youth and youth activities,” she said.
Mrs Cleak is no longer involved with scouts but has formed life-long relationships with the people she met in the organisation.
“We still catch with a big group of them every six weeks for a meal,” she said.
“They stay in your life forever and it’s the same with RSL.
“Even though we’ve left Albany, when we go back it feels like our second home because we meet up with so many people that we knew and they are all involved with the RSL and we always will be.”
Mrs Cleak joined the Cockburn RSL sub-branch when the couple returned to Perth in 2007 and she was asked to become its treasurer in 2010.
She is also the membership officer and chair of the ceremonial committee and was honoured as a life member in 2013.
Mrs Cleak encouraged more people to get involved in the community.
“If everybody in Australia did a couple of hours a week volunteering this place would really hop,” she said.
“And if they took all the volunteers out of Australia we’d be in dire straits.
“You also get to meet some fantastic people and make friends for life.”