Helping country kids central to Bill’s legacy

By Meg Saultry

The Benalla Ensign Legacy award is an honorary award bestowed by the Ensign to a person for their outstanding contribution to sport in Benalla over an extended period of time.


Growing up on the farm, Bill had two dreams; to be a farmer and to play league football.

He achieved both, owning a farm just outside Benalla as well as representing his beloved Fitzroy in 48 VFL games.

Told he couldn’t play football again at 14 due to heart problems, Bill has overcome the impossible to achieve his dreams.

Running out for his first game on the MCG at centrehalf forward to playing in front of the Queen and the Royal family, the man has done it all.

But it’s Bill’s work off the field where his legacy has continued to take shape.

An inaugural member of the Benalla Young Sportsperson Trust for more than 25 years, Bill is
committed to helping young country kids achieve their dreams.

“I want to see young people aspire high, both in sport and in their lives in general,” he said.

“I want them to give it their best shot, so that when they get older, they don’t die wondering.

“I hope the world will be a better place for the contribution I’ve made.”

When presented with the inaugural Legacy award, Bill said he was moved by the honour.

He thanked his wife of nearly 50 years, Sally for all her support, past and current trustees of the Benalla Young Sportsperson Trust and Robyn Smith.

“I’ve always held Robyn in very high regard, the way she goes about it and what’s she’s achieved,” Sykes said.

Adding to the list of thanks were past and current Benalla Ensign staff, Steph Ryan’s staff for their additional secretarial support, and the fantastic patrons at the Farmers Arms who have contributed more than $7000 to the trust over the past 12 months.

He thanked the patrons of the Benalla Bowls Club and many other local businesses who give via donation tins as well as other major sponsors including the Aussie Community Chest, Rotary, Lions, GMCU, The Royal Hotel, the CBA and Benalla Rural City.

Lastly, he thanked all the people in the community who continue to contribute to helping young people achieve in sport.

As Bill’s saying goes; it takes a village to raise a child — and a co-ordinated one at that.