A promise made to a young family member who died in 2008 from a super-bug after seven weeks in the Royal Children’s Hospital, has been followed through by St James farmer Neil Lonie.
Mr Lonie pledged at his niece’s funeral that on Good Friday he would help to raise money for other children at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
And 10 years on, Mr Lonie has done just that — having raised more than $150000 — and in doing so has been recognised by being named Moira Shire’s Citizen of the Year for 2018 at an Australia Day awards ceremony on January 18.
Mr Lonie, who grows cereal crops on 1011.71ha, said he could not have imagined the outcome of the ceremony.
‘‘I was humbled. I knew I was being nominated but I thought I might have a chance in the local St James/Tungamah awards — but I had no idea about the whole of Moira Shire awards,’’ he said.
‘‘I wasn’t sure about the categories until I read the program. There were 13 people nominated and I never thought I’d win but when my name was read out I was absolutely blown away.’’
Mr Lonie and his niece were very close and this is the reason for his fundraising effort.
‘‘She was a like a daughter to me. We got on like a house on fire. She was a lovely outgoing girl and I miss her.
‘‘That’s why I do the work I do.’’
The two were so close that Mr Lonie decided to name his swimming pool ‘Lisa’s Pool’ in her memory.
In addition to his fundraising work, Mr Lonie, 65, also volunteers his time at CFA District 22 and St James CFA as well as the Tungamah and Dookie Lions clubs.
On top of this, Mr Lonie somehow still finds time to work on the farm with his wife Trish and son Brett.
‘‘Our son Brett came home to work on the farm.
‘‘We now have a full-time worker; before, it was just Brett, myself and Trish with some casual labour from to time.
‘‘Now I’m looking to slow down with the farming but I want to continue fundraising.’’