Max Porter is Yarrawonga’s sole 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list awardee with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for outstanding community work.
For nearly 50 years, James Maxwell Porter was a natural leader providing enormous service to communities covering a wide range of police, business, education and sporting activities; local government and committee work, especially in north-east Victoria.
It included a most distinguished 38-year police career, with eight police citations including the personal lunging at a gunman and ending of a siege in Geelong, being actively involved in initiating police wrestling competitions which raised thousands of dollars for hospitals over 20 years, and setting up and/or helping youth and senior organisations.
“I’m privileged and appreciative of those who nominated me,” the former Yarrawonga Shire Councillor who played such a key role in getting natural gas to the Murray Valley region, told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
“I think it’s something I never expected but gratefully received.”
Max, who turns 87-years-of-age on July 24, initiated the formation of the Central Murray Regional Development Corporation with representatives from the previous Yarrawonga, Corowa, Berrigan, Cobram, Numurkah and Nathalia Shires.
“We formed a sub committee to seek the supply of natural gas to all the towns of those shires, and also Chiltern and Howlong,” Max, the committee’s foundation chairperson, said. “Getting natural gas to our region was a great success.”
Max’s oldest son Roger, 59, a property valuer in Wangaratta, said his dad “richly deserved the OAM”.
“He’s done lots of voluntary work over the years, right from when we were little kids, setting up youth groups Life Education and other organisations.
“He was heavily involved in getting natural gas here. It was a major achievement. He was a Commonwealth Light Heavyweight champion who would have made the 1956 Olympics if he didn’t injure his shoulder helping someone out.”
Roger has two brothers and a sister. Their mother, Max’s wife Judy, passed away in 2014.
Max was chairman and committee member Yarrawonga Chamber of Commerce 1994 to 1996.
Max retired from the Victorian Police Force in 1987, as Chief Superintendent at Barwon Region a top 10 police officer in the state, in charge of 220 staff in 15 police stations for five years and moved to Yarrawonga.
Earlier in 1987, Max ended a siege in Geelong where a man was threatening to kill his wife and two children. After four hours of negotiation, Max hurled himself at the gunman and disarmed him.
Max played a major role in introducing police wrestling to raise money for needy organisations from the 1950s to the 1970s. “Wrestling was huge in the 1950s,” he said.
“It was great public relations for the police, and thousands of pounds were raised for various organisations including the Women’s Hospital, Royal Children’s Hospital, the Alfred Hospital, the Victorian Spastic Society and citizen youth clubs.”
Competing against wrestlers from all sates, Max was Victorian and Commonwealth Lightweight Champion who was set to be selected in the 1956 Olympics , only to receive a shoulder injury requiring an operation at the time.
Max was a good footballer and cricketer, who once bowled Australian star Percy Beams out for 96 while playing a midweek police competition against other emergency organisations and Defence organisations. He represented Alexandra at Country Week cricket.
He was particularly prominent in Alexandra whom he represented in Country Week cricket as a batsman and bowler.
Max’s most impressive background also includes:
* Volunteer Ambulance driver Alexandra for most of the 1960s
* Life Member Alexandra and District Citizens Youth Club
* Life Member of Victoria Police Boxing and Wrestling Club
* Honorary Justice of the Peace for 19 years
* Chairman, Sportsman’s Committee, Rotary Club of Brighton 1980-1981; Member at Brighton and Benalla for many years
* Chair, Representative Council, Life Education Victoria, for one year
* Chair, Geelong Life Education committee 1982 - 1987
* Proper Officer and Life Member Australian Poll Hereford Society.
Max coached junior sporting teams in football and cricket, and spent hundreds of hours, again voluntarily, establishing youth groups in Geelong and Alexandra.
Max was a highly respected councillor with the Yarrawonga Shire Council before it merged to help form Moira Shire Council.
That respect was a continuation of all of his official and voluntary work before hand, resulting in various life memberships and awards. Max’s latest award, of a national status, is indeed, richly deserved.