By Jessica Anstice
The Order of Australia Medal came to former Dandenong mayor Frank Holohan as a “real surprise”.
The lifelong community icon was presented with the prestigious title in the 2021 Australia Day Honours.
Mr Holohan was awarded the medal for his extensive service to the Dandenong community, which includes his time served as mayor and councillor, his involvement in the local cricket, basketball and soccer clubs as well as volunteering with a number of community organisations.
“It was certainly a real surprise when I received the letter in the mail last Sunday,” he said.
“I’m over the moon. To have your service recognised in that way is just fantastic – I never thought it would happen.
“Every year when I look at the whole Australia Day Honours list it’s unbelievable. Thinking of all the places I’ve worked with and helped just gives me so much joy.”
During his local government career with Dandenong City Council between 1973 and 1994, Mr Holohan says his most significant achievement was initiating a golf day to raise money for Dandenong Hospital.
The event raised more than $30,000 in the first year and $50,000 the following year.
He and the late Dandenong Journal editor John Woods collaborated in 1985 to produce the Journal’s first colour front page.
“I challenged John that if I got a certain level of sponsorships for the golf day I would get the front page of the journal in colour and John agreed with the whole proposition,” he recalled.
“I asked the managing director of Nissan if they would sponsor the event and they agreed to put down $10,000 and so we secured the first coloured front page.”
Aside from his involvement in the local council, Mr Holohan dedicated the majority of his time to volunteering from a very young age.
He said he was just 12-years-old when his passion for volunteering came about.
“I was 12-years of age living in Beaconsfield and I went to the local football league and came home with a pile of documents,” he recalled.
“I told my mum I was becoming secretary and I did. So I’ve been on the go ever since and things just happened from there.
“You just try to do your best and I’ve had a lot of fun.”
The 83-year-old’s love for cricket led him to be heavily involved in the Dandenong District Cricket Association, so much so, he was presented with a life membership.
He was the association’s president for about seven years and became a tribunal member.
But it didn’t stop at cricket. Mr Holohan was president of the Dandenong Amateur Basketball Association and a life member at the Dandenong City Soccer Club.
A reserve in Endeavour Hills was named after him in honour of his support for Dandenong City Soccer Club.
Outside of council and sport, Mr Holohan was a board member of several organisations, including City of Dandenong Housing Co-operative, Dandenong Sewerage Authority, Dandenong Foster Care Westernport Building, Dandenong Valley Authority and life governor of Dandenong Hospital.
“I am eternally grateful for all that has happened to lead my life and I will obviously die a happy man,” he said.
“This award is recognition for all the people I’ve been involved with over the years.”