He started out as a fresh-faced young politician in Maitland more than three decades ago and in 1986, at age 41, became the city’s youngest elected mayor.
Today, 36 years on, Peter Terence Blackmore has reached the pinnacle of his public life when he received one of the country’s highest honours, an Order of Australia Medal.
Maitland’s longest-serving mayor of 21 years and believed to be the state’s longest serving mayor, Cr Blackmore said he was both honoured and humbled on hearing the news.
Also a former state member for Maitland, Cr Blackmore received his award for service to local government and to the community of Maitland.
He said the award did not just belong to him, but also to the people of Maitland, his wife Robyn and their family.
“To me, this belongs to so many people, including the staff and the council as a whole,” he said.
“I’m very proud of this city and this honour comes as a result of team work.
“It is also something that my wife Robyn, our children and grandchildren can be proud of, because without them I would have achieved nothing,” he said.
“In public life family comes third.
“You have an appreciation for and a responsibility to the community, the council and the city and then it’s the family and many a time I have not been able to enjoy or watch the children and grandchildren grow up or participate in a number of activities throughout their lives because of the role I have been performing.
“It’s not just Peter Blackmore, it’s a team,” he said.
Cr Blackmore was elected to council in 1980.
He was mayor from 1986 to 1990 and was a state member from 1991 to 1999.
Maitland council was dismissed in 1997. A referendum followed where the community elected the mayor by popular vote leading to a four-year term.
He was elected mayor again in 1999 and has remained in the chair since.
Cr Blackmore paid tribute to his parents, his mother Kath and his late father George, for teaching him that it was the people behind the community who made it great.
“My brother Tony and I were brought up this way, to work with the community and be actively involved in everything we did,” Cr Blackmore said.
He also credits a lot of his success to former transport minister and Maitland MP Milton Morris, who Cr Blackmore described as his mentor. With success comes criticism and Cr Blackmore has had his fair share.
“I get really emotional about recognition of this kind and I do not look for accolades, gratitude or appreciation.
“I am sharing this with the people that make Maitland a great place to live and work and raise a family, and I get chuffed about the growth.
“Yes, people have said the growth is too rapid and they want to put up the ‘full house’ sign.
“I have felt the pain regarding The Levee, the traders and the people, but look at it now.
“I see the growth and I sit in Michele’s Patisserie and look out the window and think, ‘this is our city’.
“How great is this?”