By Justin Flynn
Portarlington oozes through Richard Underwood’s veins.
Although now living on 24 hectares at Mannerim, a short drive away from the town, Portarlington is the place that makes Mr Underwood happy.
This week Mr Underwood was the recipient of a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the community as part of the Queen’s Birthday honours list.
“I feel pretty humbled by it really,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people who do lots of fantastic work out there and to award me with an AM is an honour and I’m deeply touched by it.”
Portarlington Football Netball Club has benefited from Mr Underwood’s many hours of volunteer work.
He is a life member of the club (and of AFL Barwon), was secretary from 1998 to 2006 and president from 2006 to 2009.
Mr Underwood’s other passion is Christian College where he was president of the Bellarine Campus Parents and Friends Association and foundation member since 1996. He now drives a school bus for the school.
“I’ve had a long association with Christian College,” he says.
“I love the college it just seemed like the logical step to get behind the wheels of a bus.”
Mr Underwood is a volunteer safety officer and participant with the Bellarine Agricultural Show and has been president of the Mussel Festival since 2009.
“I just love the place, it’s got so much to offer,” Mr Underwood says of Portarlington.
“Portarlington is no longer a sleepy hollow or a sleepy little hamlet.
“The whole Bellarine has changed. People get out at weekends now and look for places to visit.
“Back in the day you could fire a rifle down the main street in winter and not worry about hitting anyone, but every weekend now it’s busy.”