Running a dairy farm seven days a week does not discourage Andrew Hipwell from volunteering for his close-knit community of Stanhope, home to about 490 people.
Mr Hipwell was awarded the Campaspe Shire 2016 Citizen of the Year at a ceremony at the Rushworth Shire Hall on Australia Day last week.
He has worked with kids in Stanhope to encourage more involvement in sport, specifically through establishing an Auskick clinic three years ago.
‘‘My twin boys wanted to do Auskick and we needed somebody to run it, so I just got doing it,’’ Mr Hipwell said.
He has continued to promote the clinic to primary schools in the Murray region and encourage sport and fitness through his coaching, fundraising for equipment and organising sporting events.
‘‘Last year, we had six schools and 240 kids involved,’’ he said.
‘‘This year we’re going to run it again in March and we have already had four schools respond that they will be coming.’’
Although his time is volunteered, Mr Hipwell underplayed the amount of work involved and said once connections are established, everything simply comes together.
‘‘It’s not hard. We’ve got heaps of support so it’s easy,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s just a matter of putting a few markers out and a few footballs... it doesn’t take any time at all.’’
Mr Hipwell’s community service does not compromise his work on the dairy farm — run with the assistance of his wife Mary — and he credited the parents of participating children for their support.
Almost all of Stanhope’s local boys and girls now participate in the Auskick program, with about 95 per cent of parents involved.
‘‘Parents have really got on board around here with all the football and sport we are trying to provide... we’re very lucky we’ve got all these parents wanting the same thing,’’ he said.
Mr Hipwell said local sport was a vital part of kids’ experience growing up and it was especially important to provide the opportunity to kids in small towns.
‘‘It brings them together and gives them that sense of mateship.
‘‘When I went to school there’d be 20 to 30 boys kicking the footy any chance they got.
‘‘Hopefully we can reignite that and I think we can.’’
Last year, Mr Hipwell secured the opportunity for the Stanhope Auskickers to attend an AFL match at the MCG.
The smiles and excitement visible on the faces of the kids was the greatest reward for Mr Hipwell.‘That’s what makes it so worthwhile and fulfilling.’’
Mr Hipwell was also the main man behind the mobilisation of community spirit and connectedness that resulted in Stanhope being recognised as Dairy Australia’s ‘‘Legendairy Capital of Australia.’’