Ron Russell started work as an office boy at 15 but decided he was better working with his hands. Leaving work to become an apprentice fitter and turner Ron went on to become Engineering Manager of BHP’s giant Steelworks in Newcastle, retiring in 1983.
Ron is deeply proud of his native Newcastle and Hunter region and, since leaving BHP, has been active on the boards of several organisations whose aim is to promote the Hunter.
He was the first Chairman of the Newcastle Bicentenary Engineering Exhibition at the Newcastle Regional Museum and Chair of the Newcastle Division of the Institution of Engineers Australia.
But Ron’s particular service to his community since 1982 has been to ensure that other talented young men have the same chance to rise as he did. As Director of HGT Australia Ltd, a non-profit training organisation, he has aimed to increase the number of apprenticeships in the Hunter region.
‘It’s good for the individuals and good for the community if there is a way for young people to get into the workforce,’ he says.
Considering the future of Newcastle, which was a BHP company town until closures in 1999, Ron is enthusiastic. ‘Newcastle? It’s a little jewel!’ he says. ‘The Hunter region offers the very best lifestyle in Australia.’
Ron Russell was appointed a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2004 for his services to engineering and his dedication to the welfare of the Hunter community, particularly for his efforts promoting apprenticeships and vocational training.