IT was a covert operation kept secret from a man who knows everyone.
On Monday afternoon (October 26), the Premier of NSW Gladys Berejiklian met one of Port Macquarie's finest.
With little fuss and no media presence, the Premier "popped in" to the fruit shop on Munster Street to meet Kenny Little and present him with a NSW Community Service Award.
Kenny, of course, is incredibly grateful but humbled by the honour. He was nominated for the Premier's award by Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams for his community efforts throughout the 2019-20 bushfires and COVID health pandemic.
"I don't do what I do for awards," Kenny said from the back of his fruit shop on Tuesday.
He had an inkling something was going on when he'd finished packing the Lord Howe Island orders and was preparing to knock off when he was told to hang around for a bit "in case something happened".
And then the Premier showed up.
"She was very gracious, a really nice lady," Kenny said.
Throughout the bushfires and COVID, Kenny had to make some quick decisions about how his business would survive. His home delivery service not only kept his 52 staff employed, but his fruit and vege boxes became the nourishment we all needed when times got tough.
"You give to your community and you always get back - that's what it's all about," he said giving all the acknowledgement to his team.
"Without your staff you've got nothing."
Read more: In My Life: Lessons on losing, rebuilding and helping others with Ken Little
Kenny was named the Senior Citizen of the Year at the 2020 Australia Day Awards in Port Macquarie.
The early riser starts his day in the ocean with friends. He loves Port Macquarie, a place he has called home since the age of 10.
"I don't want to live anywhere else," he said.
Kenny has been awarded life memberships to rugby league, cricket and hockey clubs, has been a volunteer hockey and cricket coach, a lifeguard, a sports administrator and president of the men's hockey association.
Ken Little's Fruit and Veg opened in 1983. The small business originally ran out of the Colonial Arcade.
"I've had a good life," he told the Port News earlier this year.
"I try to enjoy all the simple things in life, I feel as though I live in paradise, I don't take anything or anyone for granted."
He holds fast to some principles his father taught him: "Do unto others as you do unto yourself and if you have nothing nice to say about someone, say nothing."
I'm sure the Premier would agree with that.