For 25 years, James Slattery has gone about his business at the Lilydale RSL Sub-Branch without fuss.
All that changed when he was formally recognised with the highest award that may be made by the League to a non-service member.
"Every club needs a James Slattery."
That's according to the citation recommending James for the Award of National Certificate of Merit with Gold Badge. That's how highly the sub-branch thinks of their treasured affiliate member.
But James is humble and a man of few words.
"I’ll accept that…” he says of his award, with a chuckle in his voice.
Since James joined the RSL in 1995, he voluntarily contributes hours upon hours of his time in various roles.
First, he undertook the role of bar manager at the club, including co-ordinating stock and serving as a barman.
To this day, James is still the bar manager.
“He undertakes the role professionally and with a great deal of positive customer service,” says the citation.
He also continues to run a weekly darts competition and pool competition, which he has done since he joined.
"I was drawn to the RSL…I used to play pool and I was invited down there one night to try and organise a few things for the RSL and that’s how it started"
“It’s a friendly atmosphere there.”
James has also served on the Sub-Branch social committee, as well as the Sub-Branch committee.
Former Lilydale Sub-Branch President, Eric Dosser stated:
"Jim has been a loyal and trusted member of the sub-branch, tirelessly working behind and managing the bar and ongoing building maintenance in the clubrooms."
With his professional painting career up his sleeve, this do-it-yourself kind of guy is a bit of a jack of all trades.
"I really enjoy what I do there, like doing the gardening, I do some of the maintenance down there and just talk with the people over a normal day to day life."
Clearly, not only have others enjoyed James’ company, but he enjoys theirs, too.
"I’ve made really good friends there…you’ve got to be sociable to the people that come, even if they’re a stranger."
James immigrated to Australia from Ireland in his 20s and much like his dedication to his RSL, he has embraced everything about life here.
“I enjoyed coming to Australia and that was it. I’ve never looked back.”
Victoria RSL President, Dr Robert Webster OAM, presented James with the award.
“It is always an honour to acknowledge the outstanding service people like James give to the League.”
"It is clear James is an excellent example of the many volunteers the RSL thrives on to keep its doors open and be able to provide such welcoming and friendly services to anyone who would like to participate."
Dr Robert Webster OAM
People that know James describe him as “happy with a witty sense of humour” and believe he’s been worthy of recognition for his dedication to his community, the Lilydale RSL Sub-Branch and the RSL ethos.