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LifeFlight supporter amid locals to earn King's Birthday honours

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A philanthropist with a passion to “make our region better and bring our community together” is among a handful of Sunshine Coast residents to earn King’s Birthday honours.

Jocelyn Walker, Emeritus Professor Ronald Weber and Dr Laurie Cowled were appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) while Cheryl Harris and John Reynolds received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Ms Walker was recognised for significant service to business, and to the community through philanthropic endeavours.

The Mooloolaba resident has had a 26-year involvement with the University of the Sunshine Coast Foundation Board and has made significant contributions to Queensland’s leading community helicopter rescue service LifeFlight.

She said it was a privilege to help others.

“I feel truly honoured and humbled to be recognised in this way and thank the Sunshine Coast community for their incredible support over the years,” she said.

Jocelyn Walker has helped LifeFlight save lives across the state.

“I have spent 45 years living, working, and raising my family on the Sunshine Coast, and I love this region and its people greatly.

“I feel privileged to have been able to help with projects and causes that make our region better and bring our community together – whether it’s the myriad of benefits world-class education brings, or ensuring life-saving services like RACQ LifeFlight are there when our community needs them most.”

Deputy chair LifeFlight Australia Stewart Morland said Ms Walker’s dedication to LifeFlight was exemplary.

“Whether as our vice patron, as the inaugural chair of the LifeFlight Sunshine Coast and South Burnett Regional Advisory Committee or as a company member, the passion and energy Jocelyn brings to these roles is clearly driven by her commitment to making our community better,” he said.

“We have now drawn upon her rich history of philanthropic support for the Jocelyn Walker Visitor Experience Centre as part of the new LifeFlight Aeromedical Hub due for completion by June 2025. This centre will enable LifeFlight to continue its strong tradition of welcoming all members of the community to our facility.”

In Ms Walker’s capacity as a foundation board member with UniSC, she was involved in the Building Excellence Campaign, which included the construction of the Health and Sport Centre, the University Aquatic Centre and the Art Gallery.

“It truly has been a privilege to contribute to these important projects as I now see the university as a catalyst for prosperity in the region,” she said.

UniSC Vice-Chancellor and president Professor Helen Bartlett said Ms Walker had contributed greatly to the university’s early successes.

Jocelyn Walker and UniSC Chancellor Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston.

“As a vocal advocate for the university, she continues to influence and shape philanthropic opportunities for UniSC,” she said.

The Jocelyn and Vic Walker Legacy Scholarship is a bi-annual $20,000 scholarship, available at UniSC. It supports school leavers with demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to make a positive impact in the community.

Ms Walker was awarded the UniSC Chancellor’s Stole in 2019 – which has only been awarded twice to date – for her contributions to the university and she is also an Honorary Senior Fellow, Vice Chancellor and President’s Circle member and Chancellor’s Associate at the university.

Alongside her late husband Vic, Ms Walker established the iconic roadhouse Moby Vic’s in 1980. Their ventures also included a 65.6-hectare housing estate in Mountain Creek and the construction of the 13-storey high-rise at Point Cartwright.

Ms Walker is also patron of Oriana Choir, and her philanthropy extends to Wishlist, SunnyKids, STEPS Group, Wildlife HQ, the Buderim Foundation, Headland Golf Club, Orange Sky Laundry, the Sunshine Coast Arts Foundation, and the Sunshine Coast Chamber Music Foundation.

Ms Walker has also been a member of the Women Chiefs of Enterprises Qld Division, a global network dedicated to empowering female entrepreneurs, for the past 20 years.

Meanwhile, Prof Emer Weber was acknowledged for significant service to tertiary education, to accounting and information system development, and to professional associations.

He has held a variety of roles at the University of Queensland, Monash University and the University of Minnesota.

The Buderim resident has also held visiting professorships in four countries and was editor-in-chief of the MIS Quarterly Journal.

He is a life member and has held multiple positions at the International Association for Information Systems and is a life member of the Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand.

Pror Emer Weber has also held roles with the Australian Society of Accountants and Institute of Chartered Accountants and has authored nine books and 50 research papers.

He also occupied key positions within community groups, including the Passionate Heart Foundation and Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Emeritus Professor Ronald Weber was appointed an AM.

Pror Emer Weber said he was grateful to be recognised.

“When I was first contacted by the GG’s office to let me know that I was being considered for the award, I was surprised and taken aback,” he said.

“My initial thought was ‘why me, when so many other people make wonderful contributions to the Australian community?’

“My second thought was that some colleagues and friends had gone to an enormous amount of effort to nominate me.

“I feel greatly honoured to have received the award, and I am most grateful to the colleagues and friends who nominated me.”

Noosaville resident Dr Cowled was recognised for significant service to philanthropy in the arts, education and health sectors, and to women.

She is the founder of the Cowled Foundation, which assists with the education of gifted, underprivileged, rural and regional girls or ‘young women who will make a difference to the future of Australia’.

She has been a significant benefactor for scholarships and funds at the Queensland University of Technology and University of the Sunshine Coast, and is the Diamond Patron of The Australian Ballet, where she is also a benefactor of a scholarship.

Dr Laurie Cowled was recognised for her efforts in several sectors.

Her financial contributions have also extended to number of other arts, agriculture, education, and health groups, and she has supported international efforts in India and West Timor.

Among the OAM recipients, Ms Harris was recognised for service to the community of the Sunshine Coast.

The Buddina resident was president of the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre for seven years and is chair of the Healthy Ageing Partnership Network. She was also CEO of Volunteering Sunshine Coast for 11 years. Ms Harris also held roles with Coastal Caring Clowns.

Meanwhile, Mr Reynolds was acknowledged for service to business.

He held many governance roles, including at Queensland Cotton, Mater Health Services, Bank of Queensland, Brisbane Powerhouse and Tennis Australia, among others.

The Buddina local also held business positions with companies including Santos Limited and Normandy Mining Limited, and was heavily involved in media as managing director of The Age, and as chief executive of APN News and Media and The West Australian.

Mr Reynolds has also held positions as adviser, director and/or Honorary Adjunct Professor at multiple universities and was a director of the Maroochydore Economic Development Advisory Board.

The King’s Birthday 2024 Honours List recognised 737 outstanding and inspirational Australians. Governor-General David Hurley praised honours recipients.

“I would like to congratulate all those recognised in today’s honours list,” he said.

“Some names are well-known, but the vast majority are not – they are people who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a difference in our community,” he said.

“Through today’s recognition we shine a light on their efforts, the impact they have and the difference they make.”

If you know of anyone from the Sunshine Coast who has received a King’s Birthday honour, let Sunshine Coast News know by emailing news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au


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