HONOURED EDUCATOR: Beecher man Chris Tanner is being recognised for his service to education and the community as a recipient of a medal of the Order of Australia.
HONOURED EDUCATOR: Beecher man Chris Tanner is being recognised for his service to education and the community as a recipient of a medal of the Order of Australia. Mike Richards

Tanner honoured with Australia Day medal

CHRIS Tanner has helped change the lives of more than 440 Gladstone children who have blossomed under a literacy program that began 15 years ago.

This Australia Day, Mr Tanner is being recognised for his services to the community with a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2015 Honours List.

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Not only did the Beecher man establish the Gladstone Literacy Centre, he has been treasurer at Calliope Golf Club since 1987, vice president of the Gladstone City Eisteddfod, treasurer at the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum and held several positions with the Mission to Seafarers.

But it's the children he enjoys working with most.

"I'm always amazed sitting back looking at them, when they're having their lunch, just how happy they are," he said.

"I can go in wondering what it's all about and come out feeling a million bucks, knowing we really are making a difference."

The Gladstone Literacy Centre aims to bridge the gap with a focused literacy program for dispirited students at risk of not coping with secondary school.

"These children are two or more years below their ability, but once they've been with us a lot of them fly," Mr Tanner said, adding that many of the children had gone on to become prefects and school captains.

"When you look at the jewel in the crown, the centre, it's really been a community effort. I've just pushed it along.

"When they come in their heads are down and when they walk out their heads are held high."

Born in Hong Kong, Mr Tanner had begun working life as a mariner with 15 years at sea and at the beginning of the "container revolution" he came ashore as a master mariner.

In 1972 he joined the Australian National Line in Melbourne and managed the business in Sydney and Tasmania.

In 1984 he came to Gladstone as a marine surveyor, before beginning his own business that he finished up with last year.

"That enabled me to do a lot of things," he said.

"Gladstone had been good to me. Our children had left home before we got here.

"I didn't just want to give money away. When I heard Bill (Crews speak about his program) I thought, that's the one!"

Mr Tanner said the centre had wonderful teachers and volunteers over the years, and he had been strongly supported by his wife Pam.

"It took a long time for the people of Gladstone to understand that we really did mean to hang around, but once they got that they've been very supportive," he said.

Mr Tanner will be presented with his OAM in an official ceremony later in the year.

LITERACY BY NUMBERS

  •  18 students from each intake with individualised programs
  •  15 minutes a day with a reading tutor
  •  444 students have completed the program over 14 years
  •  2001, February is when the program first began
  •  1 teacher and 2 teacher's aides
  •  8.30am to 11am, daily for 18 weeks
  •  3 reading tutors
  •  10-13 year olds
  •  2 years below the state average reading level when they begin
  •  17-18 months average gain in literacy at the end of the program


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