A FORMER local has been awarded one of the country's greatest honours - an Order of Australia Medal.
Media personality Mike Rabbitt was announced as a recipient on Australia Day for his services to the community.
Being a sports reporter for NBN TV in Newcastle, NSW, he has used his high-profile status to offer his skills as a promoter, fundraiser and host to various sporting and charitable organisations.
While admittedly "embarrassed" to be recognised, Mr Rabbitt said he was surprised at the news and very humbled.
"It is just a pleasure to be able to do these things," he said. "There are a lot more people in the community who are much more deserving. I'm a little bit gobsmacked."
Born in Naracoorte Hospital, Mr Rabbitt spent his first 10 years in Lucindale before moving with his family to Glenroy in 1960. The son of Bill and Olive Rabbitt, he is the eldest of five with siblings Gayle, Jan, Cate and Andrew.
He spent most of his youth in Penola and the surrounding area and was heavily involved in the local sporting scene. He said he had fond memories of his time in the SE.
"I was down at Christmas time and it was good to get back and have a look at Penola and Lucindale," he said. "Now a grey nomad I spent a bit of time at the caravan park in Naracoorte and the swimming lake too."
Mr Rabbitt's high school years were spent at Sacred Heart College in Adelaide before he returned to Penola to complete his last year of schooling. From there he got a job in Mount Gambier at SES-8, now Win TV, before moving back to Adelaide hopeful of a football career. In 1971 he was called for national service and six years later moved to Sydney and then eventually Newcastle in 1980.
He became a sports commentator and news reporter for NBN TV.
Mr Rabbitt will be officially given the Order of Australia Medal at a ceremony at Government House in Sydney next month.
His family is looking forward to joining him on the special occasion, which also falls on the same day of their father's birthday.
Gayle Davies, who still lives locally, said the family was proud of her brother, who had donated a lot of his time to charity events over the years.
"He has always had the gift of the gab," she told the Herald. "We are all just absolutely thrilled. It's a great achievement."