Janelle Wendt with Russell's National Police Service Medal
The Facebook tribute to Russell Wendt

February 28, 2013

A much-loved Nanango police officer was remembered in the South Burnett last week at a medal ceremony at Murgon Police Station.

Superintendent Chris Sang, from Gympie District, presented a National Police Service Medal to Janelle Wendt, wife of the late Officer-In-Charge of Nanango station, Russell Wendt.

Russell died from a brain tumour on September 12, 2010. He had been officially diagnosed with the tumour the previous November and had faced a series of operations as well as chemotherapy.

Janelle said she received an email a few weeks ago inviting her to receive the medal on Russell’s behalf.

Russell started as a police cadet in 1977. After graduation, he served all over Queensland, including Biloela, Bundaberg and Rockhampton.

He was appointed Officer-In-Charge at Nanango in 1997, a role he held until his death.

Janelle began work as an administration officer at the station in 2002 … a job she still has.

The couple had three children – all now in their 20s – but they also had another family, the Queensland Police.

“They were there for us all the way,” Janelle said.

“They supported us when our daughter was being treated for leukaemia and then were there for us with Russell’s treatment.”

Russell was well-loved and respected in the Nanango community and beyond.

He was part of the Masters swimming team at the local pool, was the Adopt-a-Cop at both Tanduringie State School and St Patrick’s Catholic School, and was involved in many school camps.

A Facebook tribute for Russell posted last week on the “Support Aussie Cops” page quickly attracted more than 370 “likes” and 33 “shares”.

Some of the comments:

 “This gentleman made me realise how hard it must be for police officers with some of the things they have to do as in part of their jobs. He came and spoke to me after my partner was killed in a car accident. May he R.I.P. my best wishes to his family…”

“He was a fantastic bloke. Great sense of humour. Great colleague and friend. RIP big fella your work is done.” 

“You’re at peace old boy. Pleasure working with you all those years.”

“A tremendous man who deserves every honour and accolade bestowed upon him. I had the privilege and fortune to work under his guidance and am better for it. Always missed.”

The National Police Service Medal was established in 2010.  The Governor-General awards the medal on the recommendation of the Police Commissioner.

A minimum of 15 years service is required to qualify.

Janelle said she had been very humbled to receive the award on behalf of Russell.

“I think it’s nice after all this time for them to remember. They really didn’t have to give it to him.”

Russell is also remembered every year at a memorial cricket match played between South Burnett and Gympie police.

The police officers compete for the “Edwards Wendt Memorial Trophy” which honours Russell and former Gympie Officer-In-Charge Philip Edwards, who died in May 2011.

The South Burnett team has won both matches in 2011 (at Murgon) and 2012 (in Gympie).

Money raised at the cricket match assists cancer charities.

* * *

Other recipients of the National Police Medal at Murgon last week were:

  • Snr Sgt Lance Guteridge, Officer-In-Charge Murgon
  • Sgt Warren Lohman, Officer-In-Charge Goomeri
  • Sgt Gary Brown, Officer-In-Charge Wondai
  • Sgt Terrence Kennedy, Officer-In-Charge Imbil
  • Sgt Colin Jackson, Murgon
  • Ian Gabriel (retired Det Snr Sgt, State Crime Operations Command)
  • Alan Wilkinson (retired Snr Constable, Goomeri Station)