June 18, 2020
A proud piece of Kingaroy’s history has returned to town … the MBE medal which was presented to former Ambulance Superintendent Herb Biddle in 1971.
Herb was superintendent at the Kingaroy Ambulance Station from 1927 until his death in 1972, an incredible 45 years!
Generations of local residents knew him, were treated by him or were taught first aid by him.
He was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 1971 in recognition of his first aid work.
His granddaughter Wendy Soden, from Buderim Heights, recently found the MBE medal tucked away in a hidden drawer while she was going through her late mother’s belongings.
Her mother, Joan – who died in December – was married to Herb’s son Alan.
Both Alan and his sister Joy were born in Kingaroy, as was Wendy and her brother Greg.
“I thought, my goodness, what are we going to do with this?” Wendy told southburnett.com.au
“It needs to be kept somewhere for posterity … somewhere where it has meaning. This is the only place where I knew it would be safe.
“This is where it belongs.”
Wendy and her husband Bruce presented the medal to members of the Kingaroy Local Ambulance Committee on Thursday morning.
Kay Dove, from the Kingaroy LAC, said the group planned to frame the medal and then present it back to the station for display.
She thanked Wendy and Bruce for the “wonderful gesture” of the donation.
The MBE wasn’t the only award Supt Biddle received during his long career.
He was was also presented with a Meritorious Service Award for bravery after he was lowered by rope down one of the narrow star bins in the Kingaroy peanut silos to rescue three men who had fallen from collapsed scaffolding .
Kingaroy resident Ray Fechner recalled this rescue at the Kingaroy Ambulance Centenary celebrations held at the station in February.
Ray’s father Claude (1921-2001) was rescued by Herb when a tragic accident occurred in 1948 during the construction of the No 3 peanut silos.
Three men were working in Star Bin 13 when one of the supports for their scaffolding platform gave way. The men fell 80 feet to the concrete floor of the narrow storage bin.
One of the men was killed, while Claude and the second worker were badly injured.
A boatswain’s chair was rigged to the end of a crane and Herb was lowered to provide first aid.
And the ambulance wasn’t his only interest. According to the official QAS history, the first Kingaroy Eisteddfod was launched and promoted by Supt Biddle in 1932.
When the new Kingaroy Ambulance Station was officially opened in 2014, the training room was named in Herb Biddle’s honour.
The plan is for the MBE medal to be put on display inside this room.