Meg McIntyre has been recognised for her passion and dedication to physiotherapy and community work with a prestigious honour - a medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to community health.
Meg grew up in Sydney and said she had a passion for sport from a young age.
"I was a child in the 70s, when sports medicine was starting to become its own thing and Australia led the world at the time," she said.
"We had the first ever Lewisham Sports Clinic in Sydney where I grew up and throughout my teens I was an athlete and I got injured often.
"I met a physiotherapist at the sports clinic who I thought was the bee's knees and I wanted to do what she did."
Meg's dream goal to become a physiotherapist was set in stone at the age of 10.
"I got into physiotherapy because of my love for sports, but in the interim I found out there was so much more to physio than just sports. I thoroughly enjoyed doing lots of different aspects of my work," she said.
As a new graduate fresh out of university, Meg was 'loaned' from her Sydney job, to the Hastings District Hospital in 1982 and became the Chief Physiotherapist at Port Macquarie Base Hospital from 1983 to 2001.
"That was my first taste of living in the country after growing up in Sydney and I forgot to go home."
Meg said it was the community of Port Macquarie that made her want to stay.
"I discovered that when you play sports in a town, you play with the same people that you work with, or work on, or who serve you at the checkout.
"People knew I was a physiotherapist and wanted me to help with friends and teammates when they hurt themselves and that's what reignited my interest in sports physiotherapy."
I am grateful for the opportunities presented to me, and blessed that my journey has been full of interesting challenges worth every minute.- Meg McIntyre
Meg started to work as a sports physiotherapist with local representative sporting teams, while also sometimes playing in the same teams.
"I mainly played represented hockey as a goalkeeper during that time," she said.
Meg then progressed to working at a state level as a physiotherapist and eventually was given the chance to work with national sporting teams.
She was the physiotherapist for the Australian Women's Cricket Team from 1989 to 1998 while also becoming the physiotherapist for the Australian Women's Hockey Team between 1994 and 1998. Meg was also part of the Hockeyroos contingent winning gold at the Atlanta Olympics.
"There was a difference in culture and pressures when working with state and national teams compared to local ones," Meg said.
"But the injury profile was pretty similar, it was the expectations that were quite different."
During this time Meg also represented Australia in the Women's Vigoro team from 1986 to 1989 and the Australian Veterans Women's Hockey team from 1998 to 2002.
While working as a physiotherapist with the world champion Women's Cricket Team, one of the players became unwell and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a neurological disease Meg herself would later be diagnosed with at the age of 42.
"The irony was that I was already making noise about MS and eventually I was diagnosed with it myself."
One of the highlights of Meg's career was her chance to work at the Sydney 2000 Olympics where she was the Deputy Director Physiotherapy Services as well as the Clinical Senior of the Polyclinic. She was also honoured to receive The Australian Sports Medal in 2000.
"I was very honoured to light the Cauldron here in Port Macquarie for the Sydney 2000 Olympics," she said.
"At the Olympics I was responsible for recruiting 600 physiotherapists and looking after the main clinic as well as the first aid stations for every event, for every sport and every country.
"I come from an army family and have a fierce national pride and to be able to represent my state and our nation was an enormous privilege."
Meg was also the Polyclinic Clinical Senior at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
During her time travelling internationally with elite Australian sporting teams, Meg said she would keep a diary to document this period of her life.
"I came back home to an interested and appreciative community, and I did a lot of public speaking and gave insight into behind the scenes of the elite travelling sporting world," she said.
"I really loved public speaking and sharing what I had learnt. I already had a long history of delivering community education on injury prevention and management and I endeavoured to be entertaining as a teacher."
Following Meg's MS diagnosis, she continued fundraising for Multiple Sclerosis Limited, including as a participant in the Wild China Ride in 2005, the Great Victorian Bike Ride in 2016, and many Sydney to the Gong rides.
She was also chair of the Multiple Sclerosis Advisory Council NSW from 2016 to 2018 and she was a recipient, a fundraiser, and later a judge for the MS Go for Gold Scholarship in 2017 and 2018. Meg's most recent efforts have been the May50k, which has involved her walking 50km despite being physically limited by MS.
Meg has also raised funds for MS at a local level, with her fundraising efforts estimated to be around $170,000.
"Since being diagnosed, I have cycled hundreds of kilometres. Most of it was fundraising for MS, but it was also about taking life by the throat and doing what I can do while I can do it," she said.
"It's a way to appreciate what I've got and reminding myself that I'm not fragile."
Meg said all of her achievements have come about because of her strong support system.
"I have had a fortunate and gifted life. I was born with some talents, but also with opportunity and encouragement," she said.
"Getting an accolade as an individual doesn't mean you got there on your own. My wife of 35 years, Judi, and my family, friends and colleagues have supported me."
Meg said receiving an OAM is something she is very proud of.
"I'm incredibly honoured and humbled to get an OAM. I am grateful for the opportunities presented to me, and blessed that my journey has been full of interesting challenges worth every minute.
"Thank you to Port Macquarie, Judi, my family, friends and colleagues."
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