When he was 15, Ross Williams went to the Queen's coronation.
It was 1953, and he boarded a ship for the 35-day journey, stopping in various countries on the way and travelling practically by himself.
When the big day arrived in London, he sat in the rain in a sea of stalls from 6am to 6pm outside Buckingham Palace, waiting to see the Queen take her crown.
The journey, for which he was chosen as one of two junior Red Cross members, to honour the Queen has come around full circle, as now it is her honouring him.
Mr Williams has been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for for service to the community through social welfare organisations.
"It was a surprise, a very pleasant surprise," the Kalaru resident said.
"I have an affinity for the Queen, having gone to the coronation and I would say I'm very fond of the monarchy, and also a republican by choice.
"If the award is a recognition of my work and it will encourage others than I'm very happy to receive it."
A man who describes himself as a social entrepreneur, Mr Williams has a long list of achievements.
"I gave myself the name of social entrepreneur, and I thought it meant to create and network," he said.
He is the founding chairman of the Reaching Out Foundation, director of the Bridget McPherson Foundation, a Rotary Club of Merimbula member, the Merimbula branch of the ANZ Bank founder, works with the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to the Bega Valley Shire, is the former deputy chairman of Imlay Nursing Home and former executive board member of Western Australian Red Cross.
But he described Bega's social cafe Ricky's Place, which he founded, as his proudest achievement, and it now has extended with related operations in Narooma, Pambula and Cooma.
"If something has been going for 10 years, you're probably doing something right," he said.
"It's run largely by volunteers in the community, many who have no connection with any faith, they're just people of good heart.
"I always get a buzz out of it. To rub shoulders with someone who's really doing it tough, due to alcohol, loneliness, homelessness, who can express warmth and feeling to you and show their appreciation.
"I'm against prejudice, and prejudice comes in many forms. I'm not good at arguing, so I think the ways to reduce prejudice are ways like Ricky's Place, where everyone is welcome and everyone is treated the same."
Mr Williams said by volunteering and working to help people, it makes him feel like more of a complete person and he is drawn to assist others due to his faith.
"I take on a lot of causes, I might have seven projects on the go at any one time," he said.
"I get a warm, fuzzy feeling achieving, testing my ability.
"I'm out at 81 years of age to prove you don't have to be old and past it."