Murray Jarvis of Eden has received an Australia Day award for service to the community of the Bega Valley, and is more surprised than anyone.
“I have absolutely no idea who nominated me,” Mr Jarvis said of his Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
“I was completely overwhelmed when I got the notification because it was clear that someone had put in a lot of time and effort putting my nomination together, finding out all the dates, and putting it forward.”
While Mr Jarvis continues to ponder the identity of his secret admirer, the rest of Eden is sure to agree he is more than deserving of such an accolade.
In fact, right this moment, most of us are probably seated on a local public bench, entertaining our children in a playground, walking an ocean path or admiring a rose bed thanks to his tireless work.
To begin with, Mr Jarvis has dedicated 53 years of his 88 years of life to serving Rotary, acting as president for both the Rotary Club of Cobram in 1970/71 and the Rotary Club of Eden in 1988/89.
Although Eden Rotary Club closed in 2010, its handiwork is still visible throughout Eden and remains a source of huge pride to Mr Jarvis.
“We developed the Rotary park at the Eden lookout, and I’m just in the process of renovating it now.
“There is also the Rotary walkway, which goes right around the headland.
“And currently one of our main programs with the Pambula Rotary club is taking the lead role providing carer accommodation at the new Bega Hospital.”
An Eden resident since 1986, Mr Jarvis found outlets for his community spirit on both dry land and high seas alike.
He worked as a marine inspector for NSW’s Monaro District State Rescue Board in 1995, and volunteered for the Eden Volunteer Coastal Patrol (now Eden Marine Rescue) as radio operator and member from 1987 to 2008.
“One of my main memories was being a duty officer during the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yachting disaster,” Mr Jarvis said.
“A big storm come up. Many yachts pulled out, and had to get back to Eden for rescue.
“There were helicopters and rescue vessels involved, pulling people off sinking yachts and out of the water.
“I was on the radio all day, keeping radio contact and listening out for distress calls. People were phoning up all the time, asking where their relatives were and what yachts had arrived safely in Eden.”
A less stressful, but equally inspiring era of Mr Jarvis’ life was as president of the Eden Probus Club in the late 1990s, dedicated to giving retirees “an outside interest”.
He has also served on various management committees, including Cobram Hospital, the NSW Murray River Anomalies’ committee, and Ottrey Retirement and Care facility.
Mr Jarvis said he will be very busy on Australia Day morning, phoning his three sons and eight grandchildren with the news of his award.
“I haven’t been able to tell them sooner because of the embargo,” Mr Jarvis said with a laugh.
“I had one of my sons staying with me last weekend and I couldn’t even tell him then.”
After the news sharing, Mr Jarvis said he’ll celebrate a little with fellow Rotarians in Pambula during their evening meeting, and also spend time with wife Laurice.
“We’ve been married for 66 years, and I’d like to thank Laurice for her support,” Mr Jarvis said.
Although very humble about his award, Mr Jarvis remains incredibly passionate about the work behind it.
“I’ve always felt that if I’m living in a community and happy there I should contribute,” Mr Jarvis said.
“If you want to be part of a community you should be prepared to hop in and help.
“A lot of old people feel they are ‘past it’. I’ve always felt that if I’m healthy enough to be involved, I should be involved. And by staying involved, you stay healthy.”
With a mantra like that, Eden will no doubt have Mr Jarvis in our midst, making a difference, for many more years to come.
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