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Dawn Borchardt AM has nurtured countless girls to womanhood
The Murray Bridge Girl Guides leader has been recognised on the King’s Birthday honours list for 2023.
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“I’ve had amazing opportunities, just sometimes they came disguised as hard work.”
That’s how Murray Bridge’s Dawn Borchardt describes her gratitude for a life dedicated to Girl Guiding, and for being named a member of the Order of Australia.
Her AM – one level higher than an OAM – was announced in the King’s Birthday honours list on Monday.
It came as a shock to the recipient.
“The email, I reckon I read it five times before I thought ‘really, me, what?’” she said.
“I’ve just done the next thing, done what I thought I could, did the best I could with what I had to work with, and didn’t expect any (award).”
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Ms Borchardt joined the Girl Guides at the age of seven, when every other kid was involved, and stayed on as a volunteer after she turned 18.
She went on to serve as state commissioner of Girl Guides Australia from 2015-19.
She also filled a range of other leadership roles with the organisation, including on its national learning and development committee from 2008-14.
She served three stints as the leader of the Murray Bridge unit: from 1978-83, 1993-94 and from 2019 until her retirement at the end of last year.
She received an emu badge for her work at a state and national level in 2012; a red kangaroo badge in 2014, and an Asia Pacific leadership award in 2019.
“I’ve had some amazing opportunities to do adventurous things: caving, sailing, abseiling, climbing, kayaking, bushwalking, lots of camping,” she said.
“I’ve travelled internationally” – to the United Kingdom, India, Myanmar, Mexico, Singapore and New Zealand.
“But you also work hard in the lead-up to and during these activities to make them good for the girls, making sure there’s food, filling in all the forms, making sure there’s transport and so on.
“Sometimes you’re up at 6am and to bed at 2am.
“There’s lots of hard work involved, but it has mostly been a privilege.”
What had been most special about her involvement with Girl Guides, she said, had been the little moments: girls saying they had had a really good time at an event, or giving her a hug, or opening up about things they hadn’t yet told their parents.
She also treasured the friendships she had built with the “amazing sisterhood” of women with whom she had worked over the years.
“While I’m being honoured, (the award) is also a reflection on all those amazing, super women who’ve put in the time,” she said.