STAWELL - It has been almost four months since Norman Castle retired as a doctor, but not as a contributor to the Stawell community.
Dr Castle ceased practising on September 30, 2012 after working in Stawell for 57 years.
He worked in a closed private hospital for a couple of years before starting the medical centre in 1958. He worked on his own in the medical centre for 17 years.
"The policy I had from day one in the profession was if a person needed treatment, they got it, if they couldn't pay for it that is just the way it was," Dr Castle said.
"When I was a young fellow and in my teens I had no other objective but to do medicine."
He said he was top of the state in what is now the equivalent to today's VCE.
"I needed a scholarship for fees and books to be able to go to university because my father died when I was 15 and I wasn't from a wealthy family."
He said he worked hard during university holidays grape picking and wheat bag sowing.
"It wasn't unusual for us to have to work 48 hours straight when we were trained," he said.
Northern Grampians Shire Councillor Kevin Erwin said Dr Castle has had a long and distinguished career.
"When you think about it he has delivered a fair portion of the people in the town, through being the delivery doctor at birth," he said.
Dr Castle who was born and bred in Adelaide, even delivered the last of his own three children.
"I delivered my last baby three or four years ago, before that I had delivered around 4,000 babies in Stawell over my time," he said.
Dr Castle said in some cases he had delivered three generations of the one family, including a mother, her children and grandchildren.
"I used to really enjoy midwifery, during my time I never saw a baby or a mid die, the service was excellent," he said.
Cr Erwin said Dr Castle is known for his integrity, honesty and for being an all round good community person.
"His contribution to medicine has been huge, he has personally attended many medical events including people suffering heart attacks or road accidents," he said.
Dr Castle said one of the events he remembers well occurred at the Stawell Gold Mine.
"I was called out to a man who had been crushed between some equipment at the mine," he said.
"He had the worst pelvic injuries I and even the specialists at the Alfred Hospital had ever seen.
"The father of three the whole time yelled 'I'm not going to die, I'm not going to die'. He didn't and he still thanks me very often."
Dr Castle scoffs at whether he has ever been affected by the trauma he has witnessed.
"How to manage trauma was my speciality, instructing the Early Management of Severe Trauma course for 23 years was one of my favourite things," he said.
Michael Delahunty, who was Stawell Regional Health Chief Executive Officer from 1982 to 2007 said Dr Castle was always widely valued and appreciated due to the time and support he gave you.
"He was very passionate about improving the health service including staffing and infrastructure," he said.
Mr Delahunty reflected on the occasions he and Dr Castle attended meetings in Melbourne.
"Norm actually piloted a plane which would take us to Essendon airport," he said.
"As someone who isn't a huge fan of small aircraft (four seats), at no stage did I ever feel unsafe with Norm as pilot.
"From a clinical side he always had a sixth sense, he saw a patient and would be able to see beyond what everybody else did and work out what the problem was.
"If someone was struggling or not improving he had an ability that only comes with great experience, to recognise what the problem was and fix it."
Dr Castle was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his work with the Stawell Hospital in 1999.
"He really led the charge to revitalise the hospital in the 1980s including making representations to government," Mr Delahunty said.
"He was pivotal in establishing the Stawell Regional Health Foundation which purchases medical equipment for the Hospital."
Dr Castle was also a founding member of Wimmera Community Care, a widely recognised government-funded organisation.
He said he believed the transformation of the old hospital into the new one at the time led the way.
"I believe we had the best country hospital in the state, it was one of the most modern," he said.
Other accolades include being recognised as General Practitioner of the Year 2000 in the Grampians area, Citizen of the century and the Paul Harris Fellowship for services to the public by the Rotary Club.
Past District Governor, Rotarian Ted Gaffney said Dr Castle had been an excellent member of the club.
"Norman has been particularly involved in organising community medical health forums that address health issues that are relevant to our area," he said.
"He has been very active in getting practitioners to speak at the sessions on issues including obesity, diabetes and something which is becoming more prevalent in our area, bowel cancer."
Dr Castle also worked with Rotary to send 16 secondary school pupils to Cambodia.
"We are sponsoring them to help build wells for fresh water in poorer areas," he said.
"The students have just spent a week or two working and learning history instead of going on schoolies.
"The program the students are part of encourages them to do something for people who are worse off."
Dr Castle who is also a passionate sportsman, was captain of the Victorian Veterans Golf Association from 2000 to 2004 and president from 2005 to 2007.
He received one of the top honours for his contribution, the Perry Fletcher award in 2009.
In a sign that none of the appreciation he has received goes unnoticed, Dr Castle thanked the Stawell community for their support.
"The people of Stawell are wonderful, they'll do anything for you," he said.
"They are very community minded.
"I've had a very interesting life, I have always lived healthy and worked hard.
"I have always enjoyed my work and loved medicine."