Shoalhaven’s four Order of Australia
Medal recipients share their stories
Photo NORA DEVAI
MERVYN Bennett was very humble in accepting a Queen’s Birthday medal in recognition of what he described as just living his life.
The Olympic medallist has been involved with horses all his life and to be acknowledged for his equestrian achievements was an unexpected honour.
“I felt it was a very special thing,” he said, describing his reaction to the news he would be a medal recipient.
“I feel as though it is nice to be recognised for the things I have done that I would have thought were normal things.”
Like every other year the recipients were sworn to secrecy and Mr Bennett was unable to share the news with his family until today when he was awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia.
As for who nominated him, Mr Bennett said he didn’t know for certain, but he had an idea.
“I received a letter a couple of weeks ago saying my name had been nominated and asking would I accept. In the last week or so I received another letter to say yes I would receive a medal.”
Mr Bennett’s list of equestrian achievements is extensive, and he was presented the medal for his service as a competitor, coach and event co-ordinator.
He was a member of the Australian equestrian team at the 1976 and 1984 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in 1976.
Retiring from competition in 1987, he was then an Olympic selector for the Equestrian Federation of Australia for six years.
In 1990 he established the Worrigee Equestrian Common dedicated equestrian sporting grounds on his property.
He is now the patron of the Shoalhaven Pony Club and Zone 28 Pony Club Association.
His awards include the Australian Sports Medal in 2000, Shoalhaven Business Person of the Year 1992 and Gold Badge of Honour, and Federation Equestre Internationale in 2004.
In 2005 Mr Bennett was inducted into the Shoalhaven Sporting Hall of Fame in the elite athlete category.
Mr Bennett is the third generation of Bennett men to play such an active role in the community, and his son John continues that legacy.
“It’s something that is passed down from father to son, my grandfather did that sort of thing,” he recalled.
“He was Mayor for a while and captain of the fire brigade. My father had the property here before me.
“The things I am being recognised for have been going on for ages, and horses have been in my life from the get go.
“It is easy to be put on a pedestal, but you can be knocked back down. But I will be king for a day,” he said.