Australia Day 2014 honours: Keith Chenhall OAM

At 90 years of age Keith Chenhall has donated his time and more than $220,000 to the Traralgon community and was yesterday recognised for his efforts with an Order of Australia Medal.

Born and bred in Traralgon, Mr Chenhall has contributed to the community through Apex, in which he is a life member, Traralgon Cemetery Trust, Traralgon Chamber of Commerce, as a parishioner and honourary lay canon at the Anglican Parish of St James, and a life member and regular donator to Traralgon City Brass Band.

More notably, he is the founder of the Keith Chenhall Charitable Trust, which since 2002 has donated in excess of $220,000 to organisations in Traralgon.

“I feel content with this award because my family’s contribution to Traralgon has been recognised in this way,” Mr Chenhall said.

After serving in Papua New Guinea during World War II, Mr Chenhall returned to Traralgon where he contributed to many Apex post-war improvements on the town and then proceeded to run Chenhall’s Shoe Store on Franklin Street.

“I got plenty of support, relatives in the town, long-term friends but our customers were our friends in those days, not like take it or leave it today, you made your customers your friends really,” Mr Chenhall said.

“I’m well-known in the town and well-supported. Traralgon is my town because I was born here but if we can help as we go, so much the better.”

Mr Chenhall, along with the perpetual trustees of his foundation, direct money to many non-profit organisations in Traralgon.

Mr Chenhall said he especially liked supporting Latrobe Valley Special Developmental School.

“My principle concern is the special school, we’ve given $48,000 there, Mr Chenhall said.

“I give to the special school because I’ve got a soft spot for the them and we’ve donated pretty well every year for that.

“Having no family and seeing what some families have to cope with, I’m happy to give them support really, that’s my most rewarding thing I think.”

Continually donating musical instruments to the Traralgon City Brass Band has been of importance to the foundation as Mr Chenhall sees the band as integral to the town while it also carries on the legacy of his brother who died in World War II and his father.

“A town without a band has something missing really,” Mr Chenhall said.