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Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022: Hector Soans, OAM

For service to the Anglo-Indian community of Australia

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Hector Soans is a familiar name in Australia’s Anglo-Indian community. For his service to his community, he has been honoured with the Order of Australia Medal this Queen’s Birthday. At 94 years of age, and with over 35 years of service to the community, it has been a long time coming.

“I feel very thrilled and excited,” he told Indian Link. “And also humbled.”

Hector Soans is the founder and inaugural president of the Australian Residents Anglo-Indian Association (ARAIA) in Sydney, and is currently a patron.

Born in Hubli, in Karnataka, Hector studied at St Mary’s School – it is an institution he continues to support philanthropically to this day.

In a checkered career, Hector took on varied roles, learning valuable lessons in each.

At 14, he lied about his age and joined the Army.

After serving for 3 years, he did a Radio Engineering course and joined the Bombay Police Wireless Service. He was the Deputy Director in 1969 when he decided to migrate to Australia.

In Australia, Hector took a job in Mascot Airport and was advised to become an Aircraft Engineer. So he studied for it, and got his license.

Later, Hector went into accounting. He got a franchise for Income Tax Professionals (ITP) and set up ITP offices all over Sydney and Adelaide. At one time, he had over 60 offices and over 500 staff, many of whom were migrants.

Hector’s wife Marina completed an Accounting degree and supported him in the business. Eventually his 3 children also joined ITP making it a truly family business.

All through, Hector helped new migrants from India settle in their new homeland. “Growing up, I had seen my father help people in need and do a lot of charity work in Hubli. I still remember my father telling my mother, ‘Cast thy crumbs on the waters and they’ll come back to you ten-fold.’ This has been my inspiration and I have tried to help others as much as I can.”

He formalised the support by starting The Australian Residents Anglo-Indians Association and establishing a Trust Fund to help with financial support, settlement, accommodation, rent, household goods etc.

His other philanthropic work has included supporting a range of charitable organisations including Rural Fire Service, MS Australia, Garvan Institute for Cancer, Breast Cancer and Diabetes Australia, Canteen, Catholic Parishes in Kellyville, etc.

In India he sponsors over 200 children in St Mary’s Primary School, Hubli since 2000; provides financial assistance to Mother Teresa’s Home; and offers scholarships at Fatima High School, Hubli.

Asked what he hopes to achieve in the future with his OAM honour, Hector said, “I hope to build a Community Hall and also houses that new migrants can use for initial accommodation. I hope the Government will support this dream and help us with a grant of land or money to support new migrants in this way.”

Hector also thanked his family, particularly his wife Marina, for their love and support in his endeavours. “My wife has been my biggest supporter, and I am very proud of our four children. I also have 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Family values are very important; these are the values that have helped me regard my community as my family.”

READ ALSO: Dr. Smita Shah OAM: Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022

 

Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai is a counsellor by profession with interests in writing, radio, emcee'ing, organising and attending events.

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