"Everything is better with a little bit of kindness": the motto of Inverell's latest resident to be bestowed with an Order of Australia Medal.
Desma Kearsey is known to many for different things, however there's no doubt she's become something of a local legend in these parts.
The multi-facetted gem of the Shire wears many hats: renowned physiotherapist; Justice of the Peace; volunteer extraordinaire; champion of those in pain; stoic supporter of the Inverell Highlanders; and gold medal winning taekwondo enthusiast.
Despite these manifold good works and accomplishments, she told the Times that when she received the news of her OAM, she laughed and said it must be because she's the "rubbish lady".
"I laughed and said to Pete, my husband, that maybe it's because I go around and pick up rubbish," she postured.
"People say what difference does that make - well, anything you can do as an individual to make something better is something good to do."
Yet while her gentle conversation and welcoming manner have lead to her at-home practice being dubbed the 'community centre of Inverell' - where you enter as a patient and leave as friend - Mrs Kearsey can still manage to put the fear of God into an unwary burglar despite being in her 70s.
Having two gold medals, a silver medal "and more" from national and state titles in Taekwondo, like the Biennial Pan Pacific Masters Games 2016, she is Sensei, and has her Second Dan Black Belt.
She's recently used those skills to defend her husband when her Old Bundarra Road home was broken into earlier in the year. She thanked herself for taking up Taekwando as a young mother in an effort to protect her family.
During the invasion, Mr Kearsey had been knocked unconscious from a blow to the head. When one came to push her, she quickly reversed to the aggressor, capturing the robber in a chokehold and telling him she'd called the police.
"He was very quick to run off once I let him go," Mrs Kearsey noted.
Whether it's attending CWA brunches, lunches and conferences as the president for the past term and a bit, sitting on the board of the Inverell Legatees branch or taking part in projects for the Inverell Red Cross group, volunteering her time is something that comes as naturally as breathing.
Helping out those in need is an extension of her chosen field of Physiotherapy.
"It's simple. I always knew I wanted to help those in pain," she stated when asked what drew her to the field.
From working on the Inverell rugby team players' sore muscles to standing guard at the sideline of Marshall Arts events, she frequently puts those skilled hands up to give assistance.
It was a calling received at the tender age of 11, after witnessing her mother care for her little sister with Physio after the infant suffered from extraordinary burns to her hands.
Rising to the challenge at school to become Dux, she excelled at her exams and remembers one poignant conversation when she was starting out in her higher studies.
"Normally you'd only get called to the office if you'd done something wrong," Mrs Kearsey explained.
"So on may way there I was wondering what on earth I had done. She told me that I was an exceptional student and would make an excellent physiotherapist... but that I would 'make waves' and should be mindful of that."
The warning, or its meaning, didn't sink in until she was a first year student working in a hospital in the New England. She was treating a young girl with extremely painful, traditional methods of the time, and knew there had to be a better way. So she did her own research to explore alternatives - and discovered salt baths.
A new idea at the time, she suggested it to the treating doctor who was quick to "put her in her place". He said something along the lines of, 'You're a first year student and I'm a doctor with many years training and experience... what would you know?'
Resolute in her conviction, she went above his head and got approval to carry on. Which meant buying and sanitising a small sand-pit tub and calculating the right salt-to-water ratio - and then getting that, awkwardly, through the hospital and past a somewhat disapproving Matron.
"Well the improvement in the girl was so marked - she was laughing and splashing in the water, and she improved so quickly after that!"
Little did she know that this event would become 'legendary'.
Years later, a patient of hers told he he'd been receiving salt bath treatment in that same hospital. Curiosity aroused, she went back for a tour.
"The nurse said that as legend had it, it was a young physiotherapy student whose introduction of the method to the hospital lead to the installation of salt baths there," Mrs Kearsey explained.
"I didn't tell her that it was me! It was enough to know I had made that difference."
With an OAM now under her belt, she said the honour wouldn't go to her head, but she would continue doing what she could to help the wonderful community of Inverell anyway she was able.
"You don't do it for the praise, or the awards, but it is a huge honour, and I am very grateful to my family and friends and patients who have all supported me along the way."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.