Former dairy farmer honoured

By Liz Mellino

FORMER TOOLAMBA dairy farmer Raymond Luscombe has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia for his work with the community.

In early January, Mr Luscombe received a letter confirming his OAM, which came as a shock for the humble retired dairy farmer, who has spent most of his life on the land.

“I was a bit taken back, it’s an honour that not everybody receives and there are probably many people more worthy than me to get it, but it is an honour,” he said.

Recounting the moment, Mr Luscombe said he had a suspicion it could have been his wife of 58 years, Judy, who nominated him for the prestigious award.

“Bruce Lloyd (former Federal Member for Murray) said to me that Ray had been doing a good job with the new building for the Shepparton Uniting Church and getting things going, and said I should fill in a form to nominate him. So then I had to look around for his good bits,” Mrs Luscombe said with a laugh.

“I did it nearly two years ago but I didn’t tell him because you’re never sure whether that’s the criteria they want.

“It is very good, he is leadership material.”

After 72 years living in Toolamba, the Luscombes moved to Shepparton, selling their dairy farm in search of a quieter life in town.

However, it appears Mr Luscombe has done the opposite, volunteering his time each week for countless organisations and churches around Greater Shepparton.

His CV reads like a comprehensive collection of the area’s committees and community groups.

Mr Luscombe has worked for the Toolamba Cemetery Trust, Shepparton Uniting Church, Waranga Uniting Church Council, Toolamba Uniting Church, Toolamba Memorial Hall and the Shepparton Table Tennis Association.

He was a convenor for the Toolamba branch of the National Party for 15 years, has been a Justice of the Peace in Toolamba and Shepparton for the past 38 years and regularly attends the Shepparton Police Station for document signing.

“We’re now so heavily involved at the Shepparton Uniting Church Op Shop, we’re there every day,” he said.

“I retired here for a quiet life but it hasn’t actually worked out that way.”

Turning 80 this year, Mr Luscombe said volunteering at the op shop was one of his greatest pleasures, giving him the opportunity to mix with community members from all walks of life.

“We’re both fortunate to have reasonably good health and be able to do things, so it is important to do what you can where you can to help others,” he said.

“If you work on the theory that at the end of your life if you can leave the place a bit better than when you came, that’s the aim.”

Mr Luscombe said he was pleased he had been able to spend many years of his life giving back to small clubs and associations.

He admitted his achievements were a strong team effort by him and his wife, adding everyone should experience the sense of accomplishment and reward that came with volunteering.

“It’s a rewarding experience to volunteer,” he said.

“The country would come to a standstill if it wasn’t for the voluntary work by so many people in so many fields.

“These awards are very nice but you don’t actually ever aspire to one; if it comes along, well, it’s an honour and I’d like to think we’re sharing it with all the other volunteers that do such good work — it’s just a symbol of recognition.”