ACTIVE civic duty has always been important to Barbara Hughes, who has enjoyed taking on guiding roles to shape Ballarat as we know it today.
A long-serving Shire of Ballarat councillor and shire president (1992-94), Mrs Hughes said this was a period when there were not a lot of women involved in government but she felt people were confident she could get the job done.
Mrs Hughes relished a chance to be on the Ballarat regional board for town planning, before council amalgamation, looking at how the whole district might unfold.
A passion for championing Ballarat is what Mrs Hughes also carried into her involvement with Ballarat's chamber of commerce, helping to establish what is now the Commerce Ballarat business awards, and as chairman of Ballarat District Nursing and Healthcare.
"Ballarat has always been a growing community and I think perhaps a self-sufficient place to live," Mrs Hughes said. "In the early days, most businesses were run by Ballarat people for Ballarat people and there's great opportunity in that."
Mrs Hughes is awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday honours for her extensive service to the community. This includes leadership roles in YMCA, Ballarat Stereo Radio and as a member of the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem.
A keen historian, Mrs Hughes said it was important to tell the stories of the people of Ballarat by those who know them best.
In her time with BDNH, Mrs Hughes learned the story of the first nurse in Ballarat who only had a push-bike to reach the city's disabled and ill. She wrote a book about it.
"It's important somebody keeps a record on what went on before. It gives perspective on Ballarat as a goldfields town in how it grew and prospered," Mrs Hughes said.
One of Mrs Hughes' favourite stories was the "great house and land promotion" lottery in her early days on council. Busloads of people would arrive in town to buy a ticket to win it. She said it was a great way to show what Ballarat could offer.
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