29 Jan 2020 | Participation | Clubs and Facilities | All Abilities |

Australia Day honours for unsung golf heroes

by Golf Australia

Melissa Noonan_image

Two selfless golfers have been rewarded for their efforts with Australia Day honours.

Indefatigable New South Welshman Richard Farrant and powerhouse Victorian Melissa Noonan were two of the honourees as part of long weekend celebrations around the nation.

Farrant, 82, won a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to golf, while Noonan was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant services to people with a disability.

Farrant, who lives with his wife Marie in Shell Cove near Wollongong, first became a member at Sydney University Golf Club aged 18.

Having moved to Wauchope, he was elected secretary of the local golf club in 1966 and has not been out of the administrative side of the sport since.

"It's been a bit surreal," Farrant told the Illawarra Mercury when his acknowledgement became public.

"But I'm very honoured. I got a shock when I found out, I tell you."

His six decades have been split between Wauchope, Bowral and his "second home" at Kiama Golf Club, where he is a life member and was last year named as club patron for his various roles - including president and director - across 30 years.

"That was a real honour," Farrant told the Mercury.

"The president and members of the board can approach me for advice or to relate some experiences of my last 29 years being a member here. It's up to them what they do with it but I have a good rapport with the current president, board and manager.

"Someone said to me the other day that, 'You keep on going'.

"I said, 'Well, while I'm fit and able to and it interests me, I will'."

Nationally, Farrant was Australian Veterans Golf Union president from 2014-2015, and has also been the AVGU's vice-president, NSW delegate and a Roll of Honour inductee.

He was also heavily involved with the NSW Veteran Golfers Association - of which he's a life member - including as president.

He remains active for the Illawarra Golf Association and is the Illawarra Veteran Golfers Association's vice-president.

"I love the rigour of the sport in terms of the expectations that players have a set of rules to follow. It's not regimented, but they do have a set of rules to follow. It does require administration at different levels and I love the game even more now."

Noonan became an amputee after an accident at a train station 17 years ago.

Based in Melbourne, she has since won widespread acclaim for her positivity and passion in supporting people who've experienced limb loss.

As a co-founder of Limbs 4 Life, Noonan has used golf as one of the program's vehicles for physical rehabilitation, but also as a means to help amputees to regain their social connections.

"Mel undestands the value golf brings in supporting amputees with their balance, getting people physically active and socially connected," Golf Australia national inclusion manager Christian Hamilton said.

"The clinics she established at Sandhurst Golf Club almost 15 years ago did all that, but also helped bring the amputee community together and offer peer support.

"She's also been really active in supporting the pathways for amputees in golf, with the establishment of the Victorian Amputee Golf Open, which began in 2008 and has flourished since.

"It's great she receives this honour, which is more widespread than golf, but from our perspective in making the game more accessible to amputees around Australia."

Limbs 4 Life has also established Limbs 4 Kids, supporting families whose children experience limb loss.

"We've been able to run parent workshops through Limbs 4 Kids, a great networking opportunity for parents to meet their peers while their children participate in MyGolf sessions," Hamilton said.

"Mel has been an absolute dynamo in bringing these invaluable opportunities to life.

"She has become almost the ultimate conduit between the amputee community and our sport ... she impacts a lot of people very positively."

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