BIRCHIP resident Dr John Horton received an Order of Australia Medal on Saturday for service in medicine and to the community.
After graduating from Melbourne University in 1963, Dr Horton began working at the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital in Melbourne.
"After three years there, I had the opportunity to work in Fiji Mission Hospital," Dr Horton said.
He worked there for more than six years.
"It was a very busy hospital, with more than 1000 babies born each year," he said.
Even though he assisted with births and surgery in Fiji, he had no specialised degree and could not do the same work in Melbourne when he returned to Australia.
"If I worked in Melbourne, I would have ended up in a boring office job, yet I had all the skills to do more," he said.
"I decided I needed to go to a country hospital and looked for towns that needed doctors."
Dr Horton then moved to Birchip, where he has been since 1973.
"I started work at Birchip Bush Nursing Hospital and I could use the skills I had learnt in Fiji," he said.
"People need a doctor, especially in country towns."
Dr Horton worked as a general practitioner in Birchip until he retired in 2002. He often had young doctors come to Birchip to learn about general practice.
"I always told them that if they wanted to have a satisfying career in medicine, then go where they were needed," he said.
"No wonder I had a fantastic time working here, because I was needed in the community."
Dr Horton also offered an anaesthetic service to doctors in neighbouring towns.
"When a doctor needed to perform an operation, they would call me and I would go there to give anaesthetic," he said.
Dr Horton said it was gratifying to receive the honour.
''I'm very pleased, because it shows that the people of Birchip really appreciated what I did," he said.
Dr Horton has also been involved with Birchip Scouts and is an elder at Birchip Uniting Church.