FORSTER’S Ross Presgrave will undoubtedly be remembered as a larger than life figure, he will now also be remembered as Ross Presgrave OAM after being awarded the Order of Australia Medal during the Queen’s Birthday celebrations.
“I was very happy to read the words ‘we are pleased to advise your application has been successful,’ I was stoked,” Sharon Wilson, who nominated Ross for the honour, said on Monday.
“It’s a shame he’s not here to accept it. That just wasn’t to be, but he did accept the nomination and I feel great that he knew he would be awarded the honour. He was a great bloke and nature’s gentleman.”
Sharon has known Ross for more than 25 years and fondly recalls him donning the Santa suit every Christmas.
“My parents used to have the newsagency in the main street, and when I came up here on holidays Ross would be there in the Santa suit putting smiles on kid’s faces and that’s what it was all about for Ross, it was always about the kids.”
Sharon was reacquainted with Ross’ charity work when he set up the Ronald McDonald Beach House in Forster with some support from Graham Barclay Marine where she works.
“He fought and fought to get that retreat set up and when he did Barclays donated a little runabout for the kids and families to use. After that he would always bring kids and their families into work to tell us what a great time they had and that’s when I thought ‘this guy just has to be recognised for all the work he does’ and I started the (nomination) process. I’d never gone through this sort of process before, but I just felt it was warranted.”
Ross, who passed away on April 23, was best known as the champion of the Ronald McDonald Beach House but was also recognised for his efforts as promotions chairman of the Great Lakes Tourism Board during the 1980s; his four years as president of the Forster-Tuncurry branch of Diabetes Australia; and his support of the YMCA Aquatic Centre and Great Lakes Oyster Festival.
Federal Member for Paterson, and Ross’ close personal friend, Bob Baldwin fondly recalled a man of passion and commitment, who always stuck up for the underdog and was selfless right to the end.
“When I visited him just days before he passed, all he wanted to talk about was his family and his beloved beach houses,” Mr Baldwin told federal parliament on May 28.
“With his last breath, Ross quietly informed me that he had just been advised that he would be awarded an OAM on this Queen’s Birthday honours list. Most people come into our lives and quietly pass through; others leave footprints on our hearts and we are never the same for the experience. Rest in peace, mate, knowing your work is done here.”
Mr Ross Anthony Presgrave, OAM is survived by his wife Lois, son Straun, stepdaughters Elizabeth and Christine, son-in-law Dennis, daughter-in-law Johanna and his grandchildren, Adam, Matthew, Timothy, Alec, Maddison, Luke and Brooke.