12 June 2023

Trevor joins a special group of inspirational Illawarra residents named in King's Birthday Honours list

| Jen White
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man in hospital ward

Dr Trevor Gardner was part of a team responsible for upgrading Wollongong Hospital’s Emergency Short Stay Area (ESSA) during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. Photo: ISLHD.

Dr Trevor Gardner almost hit the delete button on what he thought was a spam email advising he was to receive a Medal of the Order (OAM) in the King’s Birthday Honours list.

“It came completely out of left field, totally unexpected, I just couldn’t get my head around it,” the anaesthetist said of his honour for service to medicine through a range of roles.

Trevor is among a diverse and inspirational group of 12 Illawarra residents who have been recognised in King Charles’s first Birthday Honours list. They include a well-known newsreader, a lawyer, doctors, an environmentalist, a horticulturist and dedicated community and sporting members.

Trevor is one of 73 Australians recognised for their contribution in support of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also be included in an ongoing and permanent COVID-19 honour roll.

Trevor was deputy lead of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s (ISLHD) COVID-19 taskforce, which formed in 2020 when it became obvious the new contagion was not going away and swift action was required to protect staff and patients.

He credits his extensive experience as a medical officer with the Royal Australian Air Force, dating back to 1990 and active today as a reservist with the 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Richmond, with helping his approach on the taskforce.

“[ISLHD surgeon] Bruce Ashford and I were tapped on the shoulder and asked if we could lead our COVID taskforce. On our first day, we set a mission statement to determine what we were all here for and it was: we’re here, we’re under attack, COVID’s going to try and shut down the hospital and we’ve got to maintain capability,” he said.

“We had to protect the staff first and foremost. We had to look after the staff because they were the soldiers and they were literally on the battlelines, they were genuinely in harm’s way, day in, day out. We had to put the staff first so they were protected so they could look after the patients, we could keep the hospital going and we could look after the community.

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“The way the hospitals are designed, they’re fine for day-to-day normal operations but during a pandemic when you’re putting lots of infected people into a hospital, they weren’t designed well from a ventilation point of view.

“I had these ideas how we could control the space and control the airflow, make hospital spaces safer, and we came up with some novel ideas which we deployed quickly, rapidly, in days, weeks at the most.”

Trevor stressed that he was part of a team of people who were brought together to come up with a solution to the rapidly escalating problem.

“I was just the muppet with ideas, but we had the support of the executive, the general manager backed us, capital works backed us and so did the maintenance guys. It was hybrid teamwork at our hospital, which I think was unique, to be able to pull off the bold and novel ideas to make the hospital safer.

“I was having sleepless nights wondering if what we were doing was actually right, it was a real fear for me, to be honest.”

Trevor’s fears have been allayed following a collaboration with the University of Wollongong’s Sustainability Building Research Centre.

Academics from the centre have conducted scientific testing in the hospital’s clinical spaces that were modified during COVID to test whether the precautions taken to prevent the spread had worked.

“Essentially, the principle of what we’ve been doing has been validated so we’re all pretty excited about that,” Trevor said.

“If we learnt lessons from what we did, and they are correct, then we want to publish and show people there are ways in which you can respond rapidly and relatively cost effectively on a war footing. Hopefully, it makes people think differently about how they design a hospital in the future.

“We have a physical capability and a knowledge capability now that puts us in a much better position to have a rapid response to a surge in an infectious disease.”

Over the coming days, Region Illawarra will bring you the stories behind some of our 12 inspirational local awardees listed below.

two men at computer

Charles Badham gives a weather briefing to Emirates Team New Zealand MD Grant Dalton.

Dr Charles Roger Badham – OAM for service to science as a meteorologist
Charles has been a meteorologist for 50 years, presenting the forecasts over the years for Channel 7, Channel 10 and Radio 2UE.

The Wombarra weatherman has been the forecaster for more yacht races than most people can name and has written a book, Marine Weather Manual. He has been the Emirates Team New Zealand meteorologist since 2000 and an adviser for Ferrari Formula One since 2008.

Arthur Booth – OAM for service to the community of Wollongong
Many would know Arthur as the owner of Booth Signs, which has operated since 1963 and is one of the oldest signwriting businesses in town.

Arthur has dedicated 57 years to the Rotary Club of West Wollongong and has been a passionate Illawarra Hawks supporter for more than 40 years, financially helping the Hawks out of their financial crisis in the early years. The Hawks awarded Arthur with life membership in 2011.

He solely funded the development of special fishing tackle bins that were placed around boat ramps and waterways in the Wollongong and Shellharbour area. The bins were designed to provide for the environmentally safe disposal of used and discarded fishing lines.

Away from the sporting world, Arthur sponsors a University of Wollongong PhD Research Scholarship, researching youth suicide.

Arthur and Carole were married in 1963 and it’s only in the past 18 months that Arthur started to slow down from his business.

Giovanna Cardamone – OAM for service to the Italian community of the Illawarra
Giovanna has been the chief executive officer of the Italian Social Welfare Organisation of Wollongong (ITSOWEL) since 2002. ITSOWEL provides support to frail, older members of the Italian community who live in their own homes and are in need of care.

The Cordeaux Heights woman has served on many advisory and consultative committees locally and nationally and was awarded the Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2009.

Clip of Geoff Phillips farewell

WIN TV farewelled long-time newsreader Geoff Phillips in 2021. Photo: WIN.

Geoff Phillips – OAM for service to the broadcast media, and to the community
The Illawarra’s best-known and trusted newsreader, Geoff retired from WIN TV in 2019 after more than 30 years. Since arriving in the Illawarra in the early 1970s, Geoff has compered countless events, including The Illawarra Connection meetings for more than a decade.

His community connections include as a director for Illawarra Retirement Trust, committee member of the Wollongong Hospital Children’s Ward Appeal and an ambassador for the Cancer Council’s Relay for Life.

Geoff has also been an active fundraiser for many community and sporting organisations, including the Illawarra Steelers and the St George Illawarra Dragons, the Illawarra Hawks, Greenacres Association and the Red Shield Appeal. He was named the Wollongong Citizen of the Year in 2020.

Allan Leaver – OAM for service to railway heritage
Allan started as a volunteer with the NSW Rail Museum at Thirlmere not long after it opened in the mid-1970s, and was made a life member in 2008. The museum is now Transport Heritage NSW.

The former telecommunications specialist with the Electricity Commission of NSW has also held various roles with St Mark’s Anglican Church in West Wollongong, including youth group leader and preacher.

Alan Beveridge – OAM for service to surf lifesaving
Alan, known as Bevo to his mates, has been president of Warilla-Barrack Point Surf Life Saving Club since 1996 but his association with the club started in 1970 as a patrolling lifesaver.

He’s been a life member since 1991 and was twice named clubman of the year. However, his dedication to lifesaving doesn’t end with his local club. Alan was a founding member of the South Coast Branch of Surf Life Saving, where he has held roles including coach, education officer, inaugural treasurer and vice-president since 1996.

two men and two kids at beach

Three generations of surf lifesavers – Alan Beveridge with his son and grandchildren. Photo: Supplied.

Lynton Nicholas – OAM for service to the community through a range of organisations
Lynton has held integral roles in a variety of local organisations, including the Flagstaff Group (life member, director and chairman), IMB Bank Community Foundation, IMB and Port Kembla Golf Club.

He has been a member of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong’s Finance Council since 2006 and chair of its Audit and Risk Committee since 2012.

Lynton held a range of executive roles with BHP during his 30-year career and retired as general manager, supply and group services, with BHP Steel.

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Craig Osborne – OAM for service to the community of the Illawarra region
Well-known Wollongong lawyer Craig Osborne has been a managing partner at RMB Lawyers since 1998.

He is active on several local boards, including the University of Wollongong’s Faculty of Law Advisory Committee, Secretary of Regional Development Australia Illawarra’s board and is the founder and CEO of Unison Outsourcing.

Away from the law, Craig is a keen football fan and has served as a member of the South Coast Football General Purposes Tribunal since 2009.

He was named the Illawarra Business Person of the Year in 2007 and 2009.

Judith Oyston – OAM for service to horticulture
Judith’s life-long passion for roses has resulted in many accolades and taken her far beyond the plants she tends in her garden.

The Woonona woman has been a member of the Rose Society of NSW for decades and has held positions including vice-president and secretary, as well as her current roles as historian and senior horticultural judge.

She was a foundation member and secretary of the Illawarra Region branch in 1974 and chairman from 1977-1979.

In 2013, Judith received the National Rose Society of Australia’s Australian Rose Award.

woman standing on arctic snow

Climate change biologist Professor Sharon Robinson has been investigating the impacts of climate change and the ozone hole on Antarctic ecosystems for more than 20 years. Photo: UOW.

Distinguished Professor Sharon Robinson – AM for significant service to science, particularly the study of Antarctic environmental change
Few people would know more about the Antarctic than Sharon Robinson, the University of Wollongong’s executive director of its Global Challenges Program.

She is internationally renowned for her interdisciplinary studies on Antarctic plants and climate change. She first visited East Antarctica in 1996 and has since been on expeditions with the Australian and Chilean Antarctic programs to both continental and maritime Antarctica, and Macquarie Island. Sharon has a long list of credentials and experience and is passionate about conserving Antarctica’s unique biodiversity.

Sharon received Wollongong City Council’s Australia Day Innovation Award in 2021 and the UOW Vice-Chancellor’s Researcher of the Year Award in 2019.

Dr James Renwick – AM for significant service to the law, and to national security
James Renwick’s diverse career began when he was admitted to legal practice in 1985. He served as the third appointed Independent National Security Legislation Monitor of Australia from 2017-2020. The INSLM independently reviews the operation, effectiveness and implications of national security and counter-terrorism laws.

He is the current Deputy Judge Advocate General for the Australian Navy and Visiting Military Fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

In 2019, he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross for “outstanding devotion to duty as a legal officer in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve”.

Anyone can nominate any Australian for an Order of Australia honour. If you know someone worthy, nominate them now at www.gg.gov.au.

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