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OAM rewards locals for their hard work

By Mark Beale

ORDER of Australia Medal recipient Wendy Downes is proud and humbled to be honoured for her service to the Whitsunday community and to recreational running.

The founder of the Airlie Beach Triathlon Club is also founding president of the Whitsundays Running Club, a founding member of Zonta Club of Whitsundays, co-ordinator of the Whitsundays Old Bags Luncheon and, until recently, was Whitsundays’ Relay for Life co-ordinator.

Former RACQ-CQ Rescue general manager Phillip Dowler was also awarded an OAM in the Australia Day honours list.

Mr Dowler, who now lives in Vietnam, won the award for his contribution to the rescue service.

Originally from England, Wendy Downes and her husband John have been married 47 years and have two sons, Justin and Tim, and one granddaughter, Hayley.

The couple moved to the Whitsundays in 1998 in semi-retirement after living around Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia. But the goal of retirement didn’t exactly go to plan.

In addition to her many volunteer initiatives, Mrs Downes and her husband also own an accommodation business in Airlie Beach.

“I started volunteering when I was a stay-at-home mum. After that I was hooked,” she said.

Mrs Downes has been a runner for 36 years and at 72 still runs regularly.

When she was 50 she learned to swim and ride a bike and went on to found the Airlie Beach Triathlon Club in 1999.

“I’m grateful to be part of a small but very generous community,” she said.

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