By Aaron Goodwin
William (Bill) Robert Darby has been awarded an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) for his exceptional service to the community of the Sunshine Coast and South-East Queensland.
Mr Darby moved to the region in the middle of Covid-19 and owns Farmgate Backpackers at Bundaberg East and Childers, becoming a well known identity in the area.
Mr Darby did most of his charitable work in the Sunshine Coast where he spent 30 years between his early 20s and early 50s.
A few years ago Mr Darby came across a family with two young children and the Father was struck with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Mr Darby worked with a group of friends who organised a luncheon and through a charity auction at a luncheon raised almost $20,000 on the day, lifesaving for the family.
Treatment and first stage recovery took almost 12 months.
He’s been a big supporter of St.Vinnies raising money and participating in the yearly sleep-out.
For many years Mr Darby has given his services to the Lifeflight helicopter service.
”It was very unexpected and very left field as I guess these things are and I was very humbled by the announcement,” Mr Darby said.
”Nobody does charitable work for acknowledgement, you do it because you believe in what the causes are and to help people.
”You get a lot of self-gratification for putting smiles on people’s faces and giving back to your community.
”Community’s everything, it’s all we have at the end of the day isn’t it?”
Having mentors of successful business people who ventured into charity work, Mr Darby followed in the footsteps of mentors.
”It’s all little bits of work over the years that have added up to something more,” Mr Darby said.
”I’ve been an auctioneer since my early 20s and as an auctioneer, that puts you in a really good position to raise money at fundraising events.
”There’s some things like cancer treatment, there’s not enough funding for cancer treatment and that needs a lot of community support.
”The interesting thing is I could name 20 people off the top of my head who I think deserve recognition more than I do.
”Without volunteerism and people who fundraise and support charitable causes, we wouldn’t be the country we are.”
Mr Darby is preparing to launch himself into more charitable work around the Bundaberg region.
”The first thing I got involved with here is the class action for the rebuilding of Paradise Dam because I thought that was bad politics,” Mr Darby said.
”I really had a great respect for the people involved on that committee, they’re good people those growers who are committed to the region.
”Paradise Dam is something I thought is a travesty if it doesn’t get rebuilt.”