A passion for teaching and bringing people together has seen Eaglehawk’s Brian Bourke receive an Order of Australia Medal as part of the this year’s Australia Day honours.
Mr Bourke’s OAM award will be received on the same day he receives Eaglehawk’s citizen of the year award. He said the double honour was a surprise.
“It's just about right up there (as my greatest achievement),” he said.
“The fact those two came together is a big surprise, an honour and almost an embarrassment but I can live with it.
“Every year (people) are recognised but nobody does it for recognition. But if the honour is given, that’s great.”
Mr Bourke taught in the Bendigo area for more than 40 years. He is currently the president of the Eaglehawk Probus Club, a volunteer with the Eaglehawk Welfare Centre, a foundation char of Men Alive (Eaglehawk) and a committee member on the Eaglehawk Dahlia and Arts Festival.
He said founding the Family Day as part of the Dahlia and Arts Festival was a proud achievement.
“One thing I'm really proud of is that Sunday Family Day,” he said. It is something I considered worthwhile. To focus on children and parents participating together in active recreation.
“The first time we ran it, we got 1000 people which was great and from there it just blossomed.”
As well as being recognised for his work as a volunteer in the community, Mr Bourke is also noted for his passion for teaching.
After teaching at schools in country Victoria and the western suburbs of Melbourne, Mr Bourke settled in Eaglehawk in 1960.
“The focus was always to get to Bendigo, which is central. We loved the idea of it,” he said.
“I focused a lot on students who had difficulty learning but also in getting the community involved with the school and the school involved in the community.
“Within the first couple of years I saw St Libiorius primary was not far Eaglehawk primary and then Eaglehawk North was down the road. We worked on having projects where people come together so there was a community of students working together.”
Mr Bourke eventually set up his own teaching centre to focus on students that needed extra help.
“We started with school-aged students but it wasn't long before students of all ages and people looking to go into entrance exams we coming, which was great,” he said.
“I think you have to have that passion for teaching, the main thing is to know why a person is struggling and once, you have identified that, develop a program that overcomes that difficulty. That re-ignites a love for learning and kids love to learn.”
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