Queens Birthday honours for Bill Hawkey MBE of Akolele

EMERITUS Professor Bill Hawkey MBE of Akolele south of Narooma has been recognised with an OAM for his service to music and communities of Canberra and the South Coast region of New South Wales.

Bill only last year retired as the conductor and music director of the Montague Choristers in Narooma, a position he held since 2002.

An honour from the Queen is not new to him as he was appointed as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1974, which was a New Zealand honour.

But he said he was delighted with the news of his OAM in Australia.

“Doors have opened up for me and I have had opportunities to develop artistic programs to enrich communities in which I have lived and worked,” he said.

“I have not done this alone and I shall be ever grateful to those, and in particular my wonderful wife Elizabeth, for the support I have received as we have shared this journey.”

Born in the small New Zealand hamlet of Timaru south of Christchurch, he admitted to having a difficult time at school being moved around a lot.

He dropped out of school and started working at his father’s grocery story, but the family was very musical and he took a day off each week to travel up to the city for piano lessons.

It was his music teacher Ernest Empson that got him his big break encouraging him to go to the University of Canterbury to study music and the rest as they say is history.

His first job was as a music teacher St Andrews Presbyterian boys school and later back at the university before he moved to Adelaide to become Foundation Head, Department of Performing Arts, Torrens College of Advanced Education, Adelaide, 1976 to 1978.

Most recently he was musical director and conductor for the The Nomad Singers at Merimbula from 2002 to 2007.

He has been vice-president of Sapphire Coast Music Society from 2003 to 2014, as well as a patron of Ausdance (ACT) from 1998 to 2005.

Bill was vice-patron of the National Eisteddfod Society from 1998 to 2003, as well as advisory council chairman of the Canberra International Chamber Music Festival held annually from 1997 to the present day.

He was also adjudicator of the Australian National Operatic Aria Competition in the 1990s, as well as an organist and choirmaster at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church.

In addition to music, he and his wife are also fundraisers for Mahboba's Promise and he is current community representative on the Eurobodalla Cultural Infrastructure Feasibility Committee.

He was director and professor of music at the School of Music, Australian National University from 1996 to 1998; deputy director from 1979 to 1995; and involved in establishing pre-school, primary school and pre-tertiary music programs.

He was founding music director of the Canberra School of Music Community Choir, now The Llewellyn Choir, from 1980 to 1992.

Other awards for Bill include being named the “Artist of the Year” by The Canberra Times in 1996.

Click here to see all the South Coast Queen's birthday recipients...

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