For Tex O’Grady, receiving an Order of Australia medal for his tireless charity work is tinged with sadness.

The former Navy officer rode his motorcycle with his cattle dog, Bundy, more than 900,000 miles across the country to help prostate cancer and mental health charities raise awareness – and more than $6 million – over the past 12 years.

After more than a decade of charity work and visiting the elderly and sick in hospitals, he is heartbroken that he cannot share the honor of Australia Day with Bundy, who died last year in 13 years old.

“I just wish she was here,” Mr O’Grady said.

He said Bundy and his other dogs, Cash (also deceased) and Sheila, had been essential to his job, especially when he visited people in hospitals.

Bundy died in 2021.(Provided: Tex O’Grady)

“You go and talk to them, the lights are on but nobody’s home – and then suddenly their eyes light up because the dog is there,” Mr O’Grady said.

“To see the calming effect my dogs – in the past and the dog I have now – have on veterans and emergency service personnel with PTSD is pretty amazing.

Bundy and Cash’s ashes now have a special place on his motorcycle and on his yacht, Mystic.

The Coffs Harbor resident started a sailing program last year to support veterans and people with PTSD.

“As much as an animal has a calming effect on people, I think so does the sea – not in harsh conditions, of course, but on a nice day,” Mr O’Grady said.

“Being there while sailing has a very pleasant and calming effect for people.

An older blond woman, smiling.
OzGreen co-founder Sue Lennox received an AM.(Provided: Sue Lennox)

Conservationist creating change

Mr O’Grady is one of 12 Mid North Coast residents to receive Australia Day honours.

Elsewhere in the region, Bellingen-based conservationist Sue Lennox is one of 155 Australians honored with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Ms. Lennox received the award for her lifelong passion and dedication to environmental sustainability through OzGreen.

Since co-founding the nonprofit 30 years ago, she has been involved in conservation projects in more than 1,600 communities around the world, including empowering young people to become more sustainable.

A crowd of people in India.
Sue Lennox (centre) has been helping restore the health of India’s Ganges for decades.(Provided: Sankat Mochan Foundation)

Ms Lennox hoped that receiving an AM would help more young people save the environment through OzGreen.

“Young people found it very difficult to talk about what was happening in the world – they easily got overwhelmed by it,” she said.

“Corn [I] do it in a way that draws our attention to, ‘How can we create change?'”

A smiling doctor with glasses and a mustache sits in his office.
Dr. Taree Peter Braude received an Order of Australia medal for his services to regional health care.(Provided by: Peter Braude)

Dedicated to rural health

This year’s Australian Day honors also honor a long-serving doctor Manning.

Taree-based pulmonologist Peter Braude received an Order of Australia medal for more than three decades of service to rural doctors.

“I think I’m no longer recognized particularly but in GPs and doctors who come to rural areas,” he said.

He is also passionate about teaching the next generation of students from the hospital system.

“It’s just an environment that makes me happy to get up every day and work in this field every day, and that’s why I’m still doing it after 35 years,” he said.