Local legend awarded OAM
COUNTLESS hours of service at her beloved Ningana retirement village has resulted in Dalby's Lorna Apelt to be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.
"It all came as a bit of a shock really" Mrs Apelt laughed
"It's been really hard not telling anyone, but I did break the rule and tell my son, he doesn't live in the area so I thought I could get away with it."
At 94, Mrs Apelt shows no signs of slowing down and is committed as ever with her full time volunteer work at the retirement village, with the villages lifestyle co-ordinator Kelly Ferguson referring to the volunteer as her "right hand man".
Five days a week, Mrs Apelt helps keep the residents busy setting up card games, bingo, assisting other staff in setting up exercises and "an awful lot of rummikub".
The award came at complete surprise for the Ningana legend.
"The girls called me into the office one morning and said that I had an important letter arrive," she said.
"By the time I got to the office, the girls had actually lost it, so I didn't know what it was for a couple hours!
"Obviously when I found out, I was over the moon, I actually dropped the letter when I realised what it was."
To receive an OAM, a confidential nomination must be made on the subject's behalf and are not allowed to be approached for information at any stage.
"The president Ningana was actually the one who nominated me, I wouldn't have picked him in 1000 years, that he would do something like that for me, it has just been all so lovely," Mrs Apelt said.
The local legend has committed a vast amount of time as a volunteer of the years assisting in Meals on Wheels, the tennis association, the Dalby citizen band and a lamington drive before finding her feet at Ningana.
"I am here that often I have started having my meals prepared here as well," Mrs Apelt said.
"I asked the kitchen around two years ago if they wouldn't mind preparing me a hot meal for lunch through the week, that way I don't have to worry about cooking when I get home, and they just said, 'say no more'."
Mrs Apelt has been a volunteer at Ningana for 20 odd years but stated that said she cant get enough, often finding herself back at the village over the weekend.
"You get sick of walking from the front door to the back door, so I make my way down and play some bingo with everyone, it helps fill in the days."
While the awards were announced Sunday, Mrs Apelt will attend the ceremony at the end of April in Brisbane.