CHUFFED: Mike Gowdie with his Order of Australia Association Senior Volunteer Award for dedication to the RSL, music and the community.
CHUFFED: Mike Gowdie with his Order of Australia Association Senior Volunteer Award for dedication to the RSL, music and the community.

Veteran says volunteering is no solo performance

VETERAN tuba player Mike Gowdie said it was no solo effort which had earned him the Order of Australia Association's Senior Volunteer Award.

Mike was one of just three winners of the award statewide this year.

He was nominated by fellow Harlaxton RSL member Felix Parker OAM for his compassion and dedication to the RSL and the community and his "total commitment to expose people to the benefit of music and for development of the Toowoomba Regional Youth Orchestra".

Mike's wife Dawn was in on the secret, filling in the details of all Mike's involvements - an impressive list - but for Mike the phone call telling him he had won came "completely out of the blue".

"I was really chuffed, but I'm only part of a group of people - members of the bands and the RSL - that do things for the community and they are part of the award too," he said.

Mike, who has been secretary of the Harlaxton branch RSL since joining in 1991, except for one term as president, takes time to visit aged and unwell members as well as organising funeral attendance on top of his duties.

He is also a founding member and president of the branch's brass band, was instrumental in formation of the youth orchestra which has quadrupled in size since its inception three years ago, and also plays in the Toowoomba Municipal Band and the Jim Miller Big Band which regularly perform at community events.

Involved in brass bands since he was about nine years old, Mike was a member of the army cadets in school and went on to be part of the Citizen Military Force (now the Reserves) before being called up for National Service in 1967 and staying in the military for 23 years, training as a Post Master General technician.

In those days the PMG controlled not just the post but telephone, ABC radio and TV, and his job, first with the army and then as a civilian, took him throughout Queensland before his retirement in 2007.

Throughout it all, bands have remained an ongoing labour of love.

"It's a community thing really," he said simply.

When he and others in his military band were approached about forming the Harlaxton RSL Brass Band on leaving the army, it just took a few more instruments and a few old faces to come on board before it became a reality in 1991 and has never looked back.

Mike said playing on Anzac Day remained particularly special to him, both for its solemnity and as a time to meet up with other former military musician mates.

The Senior Volunteer Award recognises and rewards outstanding continuing voluntary contributions made by senior Queenslanders to their communities.

Perhaps Mike's contribution is best summed up by a small quote on his certificate, which states that he is "almost irreplaceable".

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