THE three Ipswich residents who were recognised in the Queen's Birthday 2017 Honours List could not be more different.

The diverse group include a long-serving SES volunteer (pictured), a country music star who is still recording albums at age 72 and an Australian immigrant who has been the voice of our Polish community for decades.

Although they come from different backgrounds, the lives of Beth Suhr, Desree-Iiona Crawford and Leszek Wikarjusz have been equally amazing.

Beth's three decades in SES recognised

AWARD TTLE: Beth Suhrs 33 year commitment to the SES has been recognised through the Australian Honours system.
AWARD TTLE: Beth Suhrs 33 year commitment to the SES has been recognised through the Australian Honours system. David Nielsen

THE orange army Ipswich residents have come to relying on in times of natural disaster has relied on its own soldier for more than 30 years.

Beth Suhr has spent the last three decades working for the SES at Marburg and Ipswich becoming a familiar face among her colleagues and the community.

Today her work is officially recognised as she joins 50,000 Australians on the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Mrs Suhr's tireless commitment to the community has earned her the Ambulance Service Medal.

"It feels wonderful, they're fairly rare, they don't give out too many of them and I never thought I'd get one. It's a great honour," she said.

"I had a letter from the Governor General and I'll get that framed."

Mrs Suhr, from Sadliers Crossing has stood beside the Ipswich community as they battled floods, storms and natural disaster but during times of peace, she has been busy training the next generation of volunteers.

"I saw a lot of young people come through and I took them on camps and we taught them a lot of good old fashioned values and I was very proud of that and I enjoyed that very much," she said.

She said the friendships and comradeship of the SES had kept her putting on the orange uniform for 33 years.

"It gives me something to do for a start, my husband, Ron, died two years ago so it's sort of getting used to not having him. It does give me something to do and I've met so many good friends. Probably that's the beauty of SES, you have the comradeship," she said.

"During the 2011 floods the river came up almost into our yards and I evacuated with my husband and three grandkids, plus one dog and three cats and we all went down to the SES building and I kept working with everyone down at the building."

The Queen's Birthday 2017 Honours List recognises a diverse range of contributions and service across all fields, including professional endeavours, community work, Australia's Defence Force and Emergency Services.

"To all recipients, I offer my deepest congratulations, admiration and respect for your contribution to our nation," The Governor-General and Chancellor of the Order of Australia His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove said.

"We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to dedicate themselves to the betterment of our nation and it is only fitting that they have today been recognised."

Leszek's work has changed the Polish community


Leszek Wikarjusz
Leszek Wikarjusz Contributed

MORE than 30 years after arriving in Ipswich from Poland, Leszek Wikarjusz's commitment to his heritage has changed the Polish community.

Mr Wikarjusz and his family spent four months in the Wacol immigration centre in 1985 before he settled in Bellbird Park, marking the start of his dedication to the Australian Polish community.

It's a service that has today earned him an Order of Australia Medal.

Mr Wikarjusz has worked tirelessly with the Polish Association of Queensland, the Polish National Council of Australia and many other organisations.

"I have been so lucky that I have always met people with passion and we can create a lot of things in the Polish community," Mr Wikarjusz said.

"The rewards are not only for me but for the people who I was blessed to work with."

Mr Wikarjusz said he could not have made the commitment to the Polish community without his family's support.

"It would never happen without my wife Alina, and my sons Maciej and Batek. With every community worker it's absolutely important that they have family back up."


Musician Desree-Iiona honoured with OAM


Desree-Ilona Crawford
Desree-Ilona Crawford Contributed


ENTERTAINER Desree-Ilona Crawford also received an Order of Australia medal for service to country music.

Born in Bundaberg, Mrs Crawford now lives in West Ipswich and still has a strong love of country music.

"It's unbelievable. I never thought I'd end up with something like an OAM. I was gobsmacked," she said.

"I feel quite honoured. People ask me why I sing. I believe that my voice was a gift that was given to me and what I do with it is my way of giving back.

"I like to make people happy and help them forget their worries."

Mrs Crawford began singing at a young age and followed in her mother's entertaining footsteps.

"My mum was a professional yodeller and she played drums, guitar and used to sing," she said.

The country music veteran has been a singer for more than 55 years.

"I am 72 now and I started singing when I was four on the radio in Bundaberg. I used to do all the Shirley Temple songs," she said.

"The Melody Kids would do songs and Mum said I couldn't go on when I was four-years-old and I said 'I could too!' so I sung her a song and she let me go on."

She has also worked with many big names in her times.

"I've worked with Roy Orbison and Slim Dusty. We also did a show at the Ipswich Town Hall when the Bee Gees came out and they worked on our show," Mrs Crawford said.

"They were little monsters. They were nice boys although one of them was cheeky.

"I was 14 and they were doing the club circuit like me at the time."

The 72-year-old is working on a new album which will be released in September.


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