Even as his eyesight slowly diminished, Reverend Colin Rush's incredible willingness to help those in need never wavered.
The unrivalled dedication resulted in half a century spent serving the Wagga community as a priest, a councillor and an ever-present volunteer, efforts which have been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) this Australia Day.
Rev Rush said he was astonished to find out about the honour and dedicated it to his wife Ruth Rush and the countless community members who have worked alongside him over the years.
"Without the support of my wife and the people who were with me in the various committees, I wouldn't have achieved half of what I achieved so this was really a combined effort," he said.
The priest and his wife moved to Wagga in 1972 through his work with the Royal Australian Air Force, but after being discharged due to eyesight difficulties in 1983 they decided to stay and continue contributing to the Riverina.
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In the decades that followed, Rev Rush has spent every spare moment in search of ways to give back to the community, becoming involved with nearly two dozen church groups, community committees and local charities over the years.
"My religious faith is expressed in very down to earth ways," Rev Rush said.
"I've always said to stop thinking about yourself, look beyond yourself and begin working with other people to support the community where you live."
Looking back on his incredible list of involvements, Rev Rush said three stood out as his proudest ventures.
This included his work as chair of the Gumly Gumly Private Irrigation District, the 17 years he spent volunteering at the St Vincent de Paul Society's Micah House, and his volunteering with Carevan Wagga which he continues to this day.
Rev Rush was also elected to Wagga City Council in 1987 and during his time as a councillor helped put in place the community grants program.
"We thought rather than every organisation coming to council here and there when they needed grants, we would instead start a community grants program where every year we could decide which organisations would get them," he said.
"That has continued on to this day and I'm very pleased about that."
Driving Rev Rush to all these ventures has been his beloved wife Ruth Rush, who said she was incredibly proud to see her husband acknowledged with an OAM.
"I'm very proud of him for what he's achieved over the years," Mrs Rush said.
"Nothing seems to stop him and he's always willing to give something a go."
St Vincent de Paul
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