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Honour for dedicated volunteer


Plympton parishioner John Batley, who turns 92 this month, has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his contribution to the community and youth through the Catholic Church and the scouts.

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Mr Batley said it was a “wonderful honour” to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours although it took a little while to sink in.

John Batley with lifelong friend Jimmy Ballestrin.

“The more I thought about it the more impressed I was…I’m really delighted,” he told The Southern Cross.

His association with the Plympton parish goes back to his days as a 10-year-old altar boy, a role he continued for more than a decade while attending the local parish school and then Christian Brothers College.

After undertaking a painting apprenticeship and moving to the Eyre Peninsula for work, he returned to Adelaide where he eventually started his own business and raised six children with his late wife Colleen.

As a young man he played Catholic tennis and was a member of the Young Catholic Men’s Association.

His family was involved with Edwardstown parish before moving back to the Plympton parish where the youngest child attended St John the Baptist School.

After becoming a scout leader in 1966 John progressed through the ranks to district leader and established the first ever Air Scout Troop in Australia.

Affectionately known in the scouting world as ‘Skip’, he was involved in jamborees around the country and helped develop many young people and adults until 1988 when Colleen became ill with cancer. She died later that year.

Undeterred, John wanted to ensure his two youngest daughters, and other young people, learnt skills and enjoyed their teenage years. He formed the St John the Baptist Youth Group in 1990-91. Boys and girls aged 10-15 were encouraged to meet once a week and were given activities or taken on excursions, taught lifeskills, communication and leadership to assist in later life.  John was assisted by other parents from the church and continued his involvement until 1997.

During the early 1990s he took up lawn bowls and became a committee member of the (then) Airport Bowls Club from 2006-2015, giving his time relentlessly to assist in any way he could. The club relocated and amalgamated with Underdale due to the Adelaide Airport expansion and John continued to assist the committee.

One of the most enjoyable times of his life was volunteering for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, freely giving his time to help local and overseas visitors.

In 2017 he was one of the founding members of the St John the Baptist Plympton Men’s Shed. The group of “more senior citizens” meet on a Wednesday morning each week, where they take on tasks associated with providing services to the adjacent church and school, including landscaping of the grounds and maintenance activities for the church.

John Batley (middle) celebrated his OAM with family last month including eight of his 11 grandchildren, from left, Luke Batley, Matilda Harvey, Rachel Batley, Kate Batley, John Batley, Kimberley Batley, Violet Harvey, Nathan Batley and Tim Batley.

The grandfather of 11 has been on his own since his wife died in her 50s and he said his involvement in the parish and volunteering had helped him keep busy over the past 30 years.

“But I’ve enjoyed my life as well,” he added.

His previous awards and recognition include 20 Year Service Decoration, Scouts SA, in 1985, and Medal of Merit, Scouts SA, 1981.



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