Husband and wife Peter and Lesley Gasper have both been appointed a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for Service to the Jewish community of Victoria.
Both told The AJN they were surprised when they received the notification.
“I feel very overwhelmed but thrilled nonetheless to accept,” Lesley said.
“I knew Peter had been nominated, but had no idea I had as well. I have always felt a need to be involved in some way in communal life due to my parents. Upon arrival in Melbourne in 1956 from South Africa knowing no one, they set about joining some communal organisations to become involved and get to know people. This was enriching for them and as a result for me I have found that one gains more by giving.
“Joining and becoming part of an organisation is always enriching.”
Peter said his motivation for the couple’s many years of involvement in Courage to Care and the Melbourne Holocaust Museum is the education of future generations against hate, prejudice, discrimination, and bullying.
“The rewards are the connections made with students and recognising in their reactions, response, and feedback that the way forward is in embracing diversity rather than discriminating against it,” Peter said.
“I feel that the award is not for me but for the activity and purpose behind it.”
The Gaspar’s will celebrate their honours in Hong Kong after Peter delivered the address for the annual UN Holocaust Memorial Commemoration at the Hong Kong Holocaust & Tolerance Centre on Thursday.
“We will celebrate the award with our family, friends and with the other volunteers in these worthy causes because this recognition is for all of us,” Peter said.