Clean water drives award winner

Access to clean water is David Langworthy's current passion. Picture: JOTNY RALHPSMITH

By Jonty Ralphsmith

People who win awards for their service are often humble saying they do their work for an important cause, not recognition.

Others grant their support network a large portion of their award.

For David Langworthy OAM, a winner of the Queen’s Birthday Honour Award, it was actions, not words, that proved his true character.

He was not in the country on Queen’s Birthday, when news broke to the public of his honour, but quietly doing the work that had him recognised in the first place.

Mr Langworthy was using his annual leave from Bevmarks, a family business, to jaunt across the Philippines and Malaysia to check out villages that have been provided with water by his hard work.

Working for the Australian-based Skyjuice foundation, Mr Langworthy has contributed to the 120 water purification installations that have been provided to poor villages around the world.

The units are a “dumbed-down” version of Melbourne’s water purification that can easily be operated by people in less economically developed countries.

Each unit is easy to use and provides sufficient water for 350 families meaning 42,000 families have been provided with water through the foundation’s hard work.

As highlighted by Mr Langworthy, clean water prevents illness, enabling greater employment

“We can solve so many problems by giving every child in the world safe water,” he said.

“You can change the world.”

Mr Langworthy believes he will continue his work trying to provide water to people around the world for the foreseeable future, after having worked in emergency relief for much of his younger life.

The Hallam resident won the award for his service to the community through a range of roles, dedicating much of his life to the Rotary Club of Greater Dandenong and Endeavour Hills as a member since 1982.

In 2010, he was the inaugural chair of Disaster Aid Australia, where he finished up in 2018.

Prior to that, he was with Shelter Box as chair from 2003-10, a company that provides emergency shelter and aid to people affected by natural disaster or conflict.

Mr Langworthy’s time in emergency relief taught him the importance of valuing local input; after a disaster in 2013, he went to Philippines and found out they did not need the western-tailored assistance that was being provided.

“So we don’t go in there and tell them what they need to be doing, we work with the people,” Mr Langworthy explained.

“We source what they need and get them to do the heavy-lifting, and we just project manage and make sure the money was spent wisely.

“It creates employment and gives them something to do; they’re not just standing around waiting for people to help them, they’re actually helping themselves.”

Speaking specifically about the Queen’s Birthday award, he said it was nice to get some recognition in his home country, having felt valued by the countries that benefit from his work.

Yet, like them all, he remains humble.

Mr Langworthy has a 16 year old car and has lived in the same house for 40 years, “preferring to put any wealth he attains towards his mission.

We were put on this planet for a reason. We can do nothing or do something and make the world a better place when you leave.

“I’m just an ordinary guy,” he said.

“Nothing exciting, just a boring person.”