A life’s work: OAM for Roy Arnold

This past Australia Day marked a momentous occasion for Roy Arnold. At age 79, Roy joined the ranks of a phenomenal group of Australians to be awarded an Order of Australia medal for outstanding contributions to the community.

Although he began his career in manufacturing, Roy has spent the past 30 years working in disability services. His not-for-profit work started with a position on the board at Minda, which provides care and services for those with intellectual disabilities.

“In 1988, when I first joined the board I said – tongue in cheek – ‘how much does it pay’, knowing full well this role was pro bono. As a reply to this, I was told I’d get my reward in heaven.”

“I got my reward much sooner than that – through working with all of those beautiful, passionate people,” he said.

After 12 years of dedication and efforts, Roy farewelled Minda and began working as CEO of Inclusive Directions, which provides childcare support for children with autism. More recently, Roy took a role as the Chairman of Hands On SA, the role for which he was awarded the Order of Australia medal.

“My time with Hands On SA has been the most rewarding of my career. The transformation I saw in this organisation was amazing. It was also a great experience for me to work out every day into one of the two workshops and see the people happy in their work.”

Although he hasn’t received the medal yet, he’s received many congratulations from family and friends, with endless support from his wife, Lee.

“Lee handed me a piece of paper saying ‘My Roy: OAM’ which she just pinned on me,” he said.

Raised in England by his widowed mother, Roy was the third youngest of nine children. Despite fond childhood memories, he cites moving to Australia as one of the top two things to ever happen to him.

“The decision to move to Australia is second only to marrying my wife”, he said.

In a few short months, Roy turns 80 and has officially hung up his boots from his work with Hands on SA. He’s not slowing down quite yet though and has a goal to write his mother’s life story, to whom he dedicates the medal.

A familiar face at Townsend Park for the past nine years, Roy celebrated with a function in the village with friends, family and Lee by his side.

“The number of well wishes I received from people was absolutely wonderful,” he said.

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