Ingleburn Legacy Widows Club member earns OAM at 99 years old

'Outstanding' volunteer: Anita West has received an OAM for her work with the Ingleburn Legacy Widows Club. Picture: Simon Bennett
'Outstanding' volunteer: Anita West has received an OAM for her work with the Ingleburn Legacy Widows Club. Picture: Simon Bennett

Anita West was not expecting to ever receive an Order of Australia Medal.

So when word came through that she had been recognised in this year Queen's Birthday Honours, she couldn't quite believe it.

The humble 99-year-old didn't want her friends in the Ingleburn Legacy Widows Club to talk about it.

"I told them I wished they'd all forget it," Mrs West said.

"I never wanted any sort of recognition - that's not why you do things, it's not for honours."

Mrs West has been a member of the club since 1978, when her husband passed away.

She emigrated to Australia 70 years ago, leaving family behind in the UK.

Though she has no remaining relatives in Australia, Mrs West said she still had family.

"The Widows Club has definitely become my family," she said.

The Campbelltown resident has been involved with various other community organisations in her years, including St John Ambulance.

She said each year she looked forward to Legacy Badge Day - where volunteers head into the community to secure donations for the charity - and enjoyed playing her part in the community.

Mrs West served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (UK) from 1939-1946 as a teleprinter operator and achieved the rank of sergeant.

She also spent three years in the WAAF Reserve, before heading to Australia.

Mrs West has been a committed member of the Ingleburn RSL Sub-Branch for 25 years (the entire time women have been allowed to join RSL sub-branches) and worked as the treasurer for the Royal Air Force Association, Campbelltown Group for six years.

She also served as president, secretary, treasurer and social secretary at various times throughout her 41 years with the Widows Club.

Current secretary Yvonne Stapleton said Mrs West had been an "outstanding" member of the club.

"Anita was never just a 'member'," she said.

"She has always stepped forward and made a remarkable contribution to supporting the widows and children of service members who have died during war, or as a result of their service.

"She has given her time, her leadership and organisational skills and energy generously and without hesitation. Her dedication and commitment to service and the needs of others in both peacetime and in time of war has been exemplary. We are very proud of her!"