KENDALL Ferguson’s Order of Australia Medal “for Service to the community of Putty” came as a shock to him.
When he received his first letter in September last year which advised he was being considered for an OAM, he had to read it twice before he realised what it was all about. When the letter from the Governor General Quentin Bryce arrived early in December confirming the award, he felt both humbled and proud at the same time.
Those who know Mr Ferguson are far from surprised given the fact that there are few who have not been on the receiving end of the good work carried out by this quietly spoken gentleman of Putty.
The dedication and community service Mr Ferguson has given to the people of Putty is well and truly OAM material.
He has had a long association with Putty, a destination he often visited as a child from his own parent’s home in Sydney.
He always felt a connection with the lush, green valley which is no surprise,given he is a descendant of one of the first settlers in the area.
They were the Farlows who settled in the area known as Wicketty Wees, along the Putty Road at Burrowell Creek.
It wasn’t until 1976 that he and wife, Margaret, bought their Putty property.
“I always have had a sense of belonging in Putty,” Mr Ferguson said.
At first they would spend every second weekend at Putty, living in the city during the week.
Those visits became more and more regular and now they only return to their city base when they have to.
Within a year of that property purchase, Mr Ferguson joined the Rural Fire Service.
He is a current crew leader, and senior deputy fire captain and current training officer and has trained as a first responder for remote-area NSW ambulance Service.
Since October, he has rarely been away from his fire fighting duties, such an important role when you consider the thick bushland that surrounds the residences at Putty.
It is this threat of fire that solidly unites the people of Putty, and there is no questioning they are a tight-knit group.
Mr Ferguson says his service to the community comes about because of the very nature of the people of Putty.
He was a life-force behind the resurrection of Putty Hall, a building that was almost demolished because of its poor condition.
“We had a meeting and decided to restore it and get it up and running again,” he said.
The restoration work continues and Saturday morning working bees are slowly progressing the building, with a new deck at the rear of the hall now making it a very busy community centre.
It is nothing for 40 people to turn up for the ‘Friday Night Detour’ and enjoy a steak and salad for just $6 with neighbours and visitors.
Then there was the construction of Putty Fire Shed, another feat that saw all-hands on deck to save costs.
On reflection of they way he lives his life, Mr Ferguson paid tribute to his career as a teacher of Engineering Trades at Sydney Technical College (TAFE).
It was a position that included mentoring to students of the University of NSW as they developed and raced the solar powered car, Sunswift. This was a rewarding time both professionally and personally as he watched students from two different education institutions combine their skill and knowledge to create the car, possible only because of the cooperation.
It was then that he realised much can be achieved when people combine their skills.
And that is exactly what happens at Putty and Mr Ferguson says: “Spending time with people in the community and lending a hand when needed, especially when you have the skills or knowledge, is very satisfying and I encourage others to do the same.”
Mr Ferguson is also chair of the Singleton Combined Rural Halls Committee, his wife is secretary and while he has all these roles, Mrs Ferguson said it was the little things he did every day for others that she believed the OAM represented.
“He’s always helping someone with their water pumps, or helping deliver calves or helping with cattle or fences,” Mrs Ferguson said.
“Well, if everyone chipped in the world would be a lot better, I help if I can, I feel obligated, keen to do so and if everyone had the same attitude well, what a world we’d live in.
Putty Hall was the centre of celebrations on Sunday, made all the more special because Mr and Mrs Ferguson’s their three children, Brett, Scott and Michelle and their families attended.