What is your connection to Melton?
My wife and I moved to Melton in October, 1976, to escape living in a flat, to have a house and land for the same price as the rent in West Brunswick. We did not have any connection to Melton, but for a $40 loan repayment a week, we said, why not? We chose a block of land five minutes from the Melton railway station. Luckily for me, my family emigrated from England in 1966 when I was 12 years old to a land of wonderful opportunity.
How long have you lived in the area?
Our plan was to move to Melton for three years and then move closer to the city. However, after 41 years we are still here in the same house. When we looked to move to the inner city, house prices increased and prices in Melton declined. We made what we now see as a very sensible decision to extend our house and stay in Melton where we have raised three successful children.
Tell me about your involvement with the Friends of Melton Botanic Gardens?
I saw an ad in the community notices section of the local paper in 2004, saying there was a meeting of the Friends of the Melton Botanic that night. I thought, that sounds like a really great idea – to have a botanic garden in Melton. So I went along to the meeting. In August, 2005, I became group president and have been ever since. There is a wonderful team of people with a diverse range of skills and experience. It is marvellous to see the establishment and development of the Melton Botanic Garden. A visitor to the garden said to me that Melton Botanic Garden has put Melton on the map.
What are you passionate about?
Gardening, the environment and education. I have spent most of life working in the education sector, in secondary education including Melton Technical School (now Staughton College), RMIT TAFE and at Victoria University. At the Melton Botanic Garden, we continue to promote education through activities giving or enhancing people’s skills, supervision of TAFE students on work experience programs and working with schools and TAFE colleges to provide practical opportunities for teachers and students.
What other hats do you wear in the community?
Currently I am on the Western Water community engagement group, but now tend to extend my involvement and promote Melton to a wider reach as I am on the Australian Association of Friends of Botanic Gardens committee and the Plant Trust committee, both being national associations.
Where’s your favourite place to spend your time in the area?
Funnily enough, it is at home where I can do gardening, woodwork and there is always something to repair around the house. After that, at the Melton Botanic Garden.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That I have run eight marathons, including the London Marathon, though to look at me now you would not think it. Believe me, I was once really fit.
What is the best thing about Melton?
The people. I am constantly amazed by the people and groups I meet in the community and what others are doing and how passionately they are trying to make Melton a wonderful place to live.
If you could change anything about the area, what would it be?
Better public transport, improve the access to more extensive healthcare and more bike tracks that would safely link us to Deer Park, Werribee and Bacchus Marsh.