By Aaron Goodwin
Evan ‘Dukie’ Duke, 85, thought he was being scammed when he was emailed about his Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) as part of the annual Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Notified of the honour about six weeks ago, Mr Duke said at the time he felt a little overwhelmed and when Bundaberg Today caught up with him.
He joked that he had been ‘invaded’ by all the media outlets in Bundaberg.
”You don’t really expect anything, I just do what I normally do,” Mr Duke said.
”I thought ‘what I have been doing?’ then I thought ‘who’s dobbed me in?’ and I still don’t know who’s done it.
”The last thing they sent along was that they were going to release it to the press on 11 June and make it official on 14 June.
”I’ve been invaded by the press.”
Dukie’s long list of service to the community through charitable organisations includes being a member of the Hinkler Lions Club since 1972, a board member and volunteer at Bundaberg and District Meals on Wheels for 20 years, and a Bingera Football Club life member.
Mr Duke has left such a legacy at the football club that there’s a grandstand named after him.
He held all the roles at some point – president, treasurer, mowing the lawns – and was named Clubman of the Year twice, in 2014 and 1988.
”There’s a lot of history there at the soccer club,” Mr Duke said.
”My grandfather was the first president and my father had 30 years as president.
”They made me a life member and a couple of years ago they named the grandstand after me.
”When I was on leave here while working at sea, I use to go and spend a lot of time at the club mowing and watering, right through until I got a bit beyond it.
”It’s been to cold for me to go to the football lately but I will get there one of these days again.”
Mr Duke is as humble as they come with the honour, saying he hadn’t felt he’d stuck his nose out enough to be noticed.
He was approached to join the Hinkler Lions Club and he joined as a charter member.
”When I retired from work, an old original member of the Lions Club said ‘what are you going to do with yourself now, Dukie?’,” he said.
”I said ‘well I don’t know’, he said ‘I’ve got a job for you on the committee at Meals on Wheels’.
”There I stayed and I ended up going around in the van for three days a week. Around to farms collecting vegetables and fruit as far as Wallaville, Avondale, Moore Park Beach way.
”Then I got a bit old for the job and I retired it and some of the people I got to help me took over the running of it.
”I still keep an eye on it now and speak to drivers now and again, to see how they are again.”
Mr Duke’s public outings are limited nowadays to dinner on a Friday night, but the Bingera FC certainly hasn’t forgotten him, publishing congratulations on its Facebook page.
”Dukie has been a loyal and valued supporter of Bingera Football Club,” the post said.
”He has been involved with our club for the majority of years since being established in 1922 and next year will mark 100 years for our club.
”He has been the backbone of our club and whose opinion we value greatly.
”Our home grounds grandstand has also been honoured in his name.”
Mr Duke has also received a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award from Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF), the highest form of recognition.
”It’s hard to get volunteers nowadays,” he said.
”I can remember our Lions Club we had 75 members one time.
”Now it has been when I was still going to Lions, it was down to 13 and up to 15 I think now.
”There’s not as many people putting their hat in the ring.”