Literature and learning, twin pillars of service
CHRIS Hanley is a familiar figure around Byron Shire, not least because of his role as principal of a successful real estate agency.
But it is his service to literature and indigenous education that has earned him a Medal of the Order of Australia.
Mr Hanley founded the Byron Writers Festival and was its chairman until last year.
The festival has become Australia's pre-eminent regional cultural event, Mr Hanley said, something he attributes to the extraordinary level of volunteerism in the shire, and to the enthusiasm of the community.
"It's an honour. I'm honoured and I'm honoured for the shire.
"Accepting the OAM is on behalf of this community and all the people who have worked really hard for us over the years."
He has had a love of literature from an early age: "I started reading very early - newspapers and comics when I was really young and doing a paper run."
He stresses that with community work "you get much more back than you put out".
There's great satisfaction in seeing the smiles on the faces of the local people, he said. "They love the festival and the events we put on. It's wonderful to be able to do that.
"It nourishes my soul."