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Brisbane Catholic lifesaving stalwart John McClelland honoured in Queen’s Birthday list

Saving lives: Regents Park parishioner and Order of Australia recipient John McClelland.

REGENTS Park parishioner and former lifesaver John McClelland was among several Catholics who were recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Mr McClelland joined fellow Catholics honoured including Chinese-Australian former ballet dancer Li Cunxin, former Australian rugby union captain Stephen Moore, education leader Dr Bill Sultmann and Fr Robert Sheridan, from New South Wales.

Mr McClelland said he was honoured, but didn’t achieve the honour by himself. 

“I’m honoured to accept it, but I’m not just accepting it for myself,” he said. “I’m accepting it for all those friends and members that I’ve worked with over the years in all my walks of life because we all do it together – which ever way you look at it, we’re all part of a team.”

Mr McClelland cut his teeth patrolling his local public pool in the Brisbane suburb of Paddington during the early 1960s before becoming a lifesaver.

“I’ve been involved with the organisation since 1964 when I was 12,” he said.

“So I suppose the award has accumulated in fifty years of involvement with the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia.”

As well as monitoring rolling waves and turbulent tides, Mr McClelland was integral in the formation of Regents Park parish in Brisbane’s south.

“We moved into Regents Park, my late wife and I, back in 1979 before (it was) a parish,” he said.

“(Regents Park) didn’t become a parish until 1983, so I’ve been here since we started as a parish. 

“I started off on what used to be called in those days the finance committee.

“I was involved, I suppose, from the start there.

“As we grew and needed things like (extraordinary) ministers of the Eucharist and Mass co-ordinators I graduated into those roles as well.”
Queensland Ballet director and author of Mao’s Last Dancer Li Cunxin said he was delighted and humbled at receiving the prestigious honour for his distinguished services to the performing arts.

“This is truly something special for me,” Mr Cunxin said.

“As someone who has lived all over the world and now calls Australia home, it is such an honour to be recognised as contributing to this wonderful country that has given me so much.

“I see it as a great honour to be able to add ‘AO’ at the end of my name and will always do so with a sense of responsibility as a role model and (with) pride at being an Australian working in the performing arts.”

Dr Sultmann was honoured for significant services to education and the community; Fr Sheridan for service to the Church in Australia.

Brisbane’s Stephen Conry was honoured for his significant service to the commercial property sector, and to the community.

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