The Board, Staff and families of NECOM join the wider Armidale community in mourning the passing of Dr Arthur Rickards OAM. In 2003, Dr Rickards formed a working group to develop a charter for the New England Conservatorium of Music (NECOM). The Conservatorium was established by late 2003 and commenced delivery of its first teaching and choral programs in 2004, with Dr Rickards as the first Board Chairman. Under Dr Rickards’ guidance, NECOM developed into a Tier One organisation in a very short time, and grew to become one of NSW’s leading Conservatoriums. A review of Regional Conservatoriums released by the NSW Government in 2009 praised the exemplary nature of the business model and operations established by NECOM. Dr Rickards remained as Chair of the NECOM Board for a decade, and continued to offer counsel and advice in the years after 2014. NECOM staff and management offer their sincere condolences to Deidre Rickards and family.