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Top gong for motor enthusiast industry legend

Colourful character: Owen Webb has been recognised for his dedication to the motor enthusiast industry, rising from an apprentice spray painter and panel beater to the top of his field – and giving back to the community.

Owen Webb receives OAM for service to automotive industry and to the community

General News logo29 Jan 2015

By TERRY MARTIN

MOTORING enthusiast industry stalwart Owen Webb was recognised in the 2015 Australia Day Honours this week, receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the automotive industry and the community.

Based in Bateau Bay on the central coast of New South Wales, Mr Webb rose to the top of his field as a spray painter – including painting two carriages in service of the British royal family – while giving back to the industry and community in a variety of ways, particularly as the key figure behind charity programs and as a trainer and mentor of students in custom painting and custom automotive trades.

His charity work over the years included leading a community car donation program for the youth-focused Hand Brake Turn apprenticeship and social support organisation, and organising an ‘Air Brushers’ Charity Spray-Off’ in 2009 with 15 of the country’s leading airbrush artists – an initiative that raised more than $150,000 for the Sunrise Children’s Village in Cambodia.

Other charities in which Mr Webb has been involved include the MotorEx Cruise for Charity (raising funds for Camp Quality) and Anson Street School in Orange, NSW, which caters to special-needs students and for whom Mr Webb helped set up a panel beating and spray painting program.

As a trainer, Mr Webb developed specialist paint application training programs and then taught them around Australia at TAFE colleges and other organisations, including in remote areas where there is otherwise no access such programs.

Mr Webb has been a chief steward at the Summernats enthusiasts’ festival in Canberra since its inception in the late 1980s, and last year helped run the the inaugural Summernats Malaysia event.

He has also been the primary organiser and chief steward of the Meguiar’s MotorEx elite car show – billed as Australia’s premier indoor custom automotive event – since 2003.

For more than a decade Mr Webb has worked as business development manager for MotorActive, the umbrella company of Meguiar’s Australia and other automotive parts dealers. He was inducted into the Rare Spares Legends Hall of Fame in 2011.

Unsurprisingly, he has built a number of cars himself – most notably, an award-winning blue XY Ford Falcon dubbed ‘Wild Thing’ during the 1980s – and has directed other enthusiasts’ projects, including various Summernats show-stopping vehicles. He has also assisted Australian car owners compete in overseas competitions.

In congratulating Mr Webb on his OAM, MotorActive associate editor Craig Parker said: “Receiving an OAM is an acknowledgement of tirelessly and selflessly dedicating a significant portion of your life to helping others. This personifies Owen, who is an immensely deserving recipient.”

Describing the OAM as “quite humbling”, Mr Webb said: “I never did any of it to win any type of award.

“When I look back at all the things I’ve been involved in, I think I’ve been very fortunate.”

And he added: “(I) haven’t got time to retire I've still got too many things to do.”

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