Kenneth “Ken” Howes is honoured to be awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. Photo: John McCutcheon
Kenneth “Ken” Howes is honoured to be awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. Photo: John McCutcheon

Hostage hero receives highest honour

A NAMBOUR man who devoted his life to Scouts after being inspired by his childhood Scout Leader was honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Nambour scout district commissioner of three years Kenneth "Ken" John Howes started Scouts as a nine-year-old cub and worked his way through the ranks, becoming a scout, an assistant cub patrol leader and a Scout Leader.

Ken's father died before he was born, so the lifelong scout was inspired by much loved Nambour resident Rod Smith who helped him throughout his tough childhood.

"He instilled some values in me and if it wasn't for Rod I probably wouldn't be alive because I probably would have done something stupid because there have been a couple things in my life that have affected me greatly," he said.

"So, I always wanted to be a Scout Leader because Rod was my idol, but I'll probably never be as good as him."

In 1980 the semi-retired plumber was awarded the Queen's Bravery Commendation after he launched himself at an armed offender who was holding him and four other females' hostage in a barricaded lounge room of a residence in Kelvin Grove, Brisbane.

He said the experience still haunted him.

"I was the only bloke sitting there with a rifle pointed at my head for four hours, at that stage of my life I felt bullet proof, but I didn't feel bullet proof afterwards … things weren't too good," he said.

Nominations for awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia come directly from the community before being considered by the Council for the Order of Australia which then makes recommendations directly to the Governor-General.

It is regarded as the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service.

Mr Howes said receiving the Order of Australia Medal was a huge honour that he never expected.

"I got the email and I thought this is a hoax or a scam, so I rang up and the guy said, 'yes Mr Howes, it's not a hoax' and I was just flabbergasted," he said.

"I walked around the house for about two hours, I smoked about 20 cigarettes going 'oh fruit cake' or words to that effect and thought what have I done, I'm just a dumb old plumber."

Mr Howes said while he was grateful for the award he was never in Scouts for recognition.

"If you are there to get badges, you're in the wrong game," he said.

"Scouting is about kids and I have three kids of my own … but in reality, I have thousands and … I get a great sense of accomplishment when I see a young person whose life, I've been a part of getting Australian scout medallions.

Mr Howes's is expected to be awarded with his medal in April or May.