Margaret Albury has been sharing her beautiful voice with the Cessnock community for the best part of 30 years.
She has performed at and coordinated the musical programs for countless events around the city, and has never accepted a cent.
Mrs Albury’s generosity has been rewarded today with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) on this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list, recognising her service to the Cessnock community.
Mrs Albury said she was stunned to find out she would be receiving the honour.
“I’m excited, humbled and grateful to the people who nominated me,” she said.
Born in Cooma, Mrs Albury and her husband John moved to Cessnock in 1988, when Mr Albury was appointed as patrol commander at Cessnock Police Station.
Mrs Albury had been heavily involved in musical theatre in Bathurst for the decade before that, holding principal roles in 17 productions and becoming a life member of the Bathurst Players.
As word spread around Cessnock that she was a singer, the invitations to perform at community and charity events started to flow in – and Mrs Albury was happy to accept.
“When you’ve been given a gift, you should share it,” she said.
Mrs Albury led the singing for Cessnock’s Anzac Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies from 1990 to 2005.
Her involvement with the Cessnock, Weston and Kurri Kurri Retired Mineworkers Associations and Cessnock Wine Country Rotary Club led to honorary membership with those organisations.
She joined the Cessnock Cantata Choir in 1992 and held “every role but president”, including 12 years as treasurer and 20 as publicity officer, until the choir wound up in 2014.
She also spent three years with Maitland Gilbert and Sullivan Society, directing two productions and co-producing another.
When the late John Clarence was mayor of Cessnock, he asked Mrs Albury to be council’s honorary musical director, a role she held for eight years.
She organised the musical program for council events including Carols in the Park, Australia Day, Christmas in July, naturalisation ceremonies and senior citizen of the year awards from 2001 to 2009.
“It gave me the opportunity to do something I really enjoyed, and as a result of that I met many lovely young talented people,” she said.
“It was such a pleasure to work with them.”
She also met many outstanding local young women as a judge of the Miss Cessnock City quest for 24 years.
She received the Marthaville Arts and Cultural Award in 2002, and was recognised by Cessnock City Council with an appreciation award in 1999 and as Cessnock’s citizen of the year in 2007.
Mrs Albury’s latest honour continues a proud tradition in her family.
Her husband John received the the Australian Police Medal on the Queen’s Birthday in 1995; and her father Tom Smedley received the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his service to the Snowy Mountains Scheme on the New Year’s Day honours list in 1964.