Former RSL president receives prestigious award

Hawke MP Sam Rae, Melton Vietnam Veterans secretary James Fitzgerald, Melton RSL secretary Andrew Jeynes, Melton RSL president Stephen Cook, Melton Cr Sophie Ramsey, Ian Lawrey OAM and Cr Bob Turner.

By Olivia Condous

Ian Lawrey had no idea of the surprise that awaited him on what he thought was an ordinary Wednesday, but turned out to be a very special day.

The previous Melton RSL president was presented with a Life Membership award from the Returned Services League, after being secretly nominated by his fellow RSL members for the prestigious award.

The award is given to members who have displayed long, continuous and outstanding service to the League for a minimum of 15 consecutive years, with nominations being approved by the president of RSL Australia.

Upon being presented with the award by his fellow RSL members, Mr Lawrey said it was the “greatest thing [he’d] ever seen in [his] life.”.

Mr Lawrey was responsible for the inception of the ANZAC Day parade in Melton and has worked hard to promote younger veterans joining the RSL.

Melton RSL president Stephen Cook said Mr Lawrey was the “driving force” behind the success of the Melton RSL.

“The good thing about Ian is he’s not one of these guys who is stuck in the past, he was very keen to promote younger people on the committee,” Mr Cook said.

“Instead of sitting on his backside as a president, all he’s done is more and more for veterans.”

Mr Lawrey was also awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours, for services to veterans and their families.

He said working to support fellow veterans was something he enjoyed doing.

“You just do something because it’s there to be done,” he said.

Melton councillor Sophie Ramsey said Mr Lawrey’s commitment to veterans was “exceptional”.

“To our community he’s been a stellar person, he’s highly regarded… Melton is far better for the likes of Ian Lawrey.”