Neil Bennett celebrates becoming a nonagenarian

Well known Stawell identity, Neil Bennett celebrated his ninetieth birthday at an afternoon tea at the Stawell Uniting Church Hall with family and friends.

More than eighty people attended.

Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Kevin Erwin, spoke of his association with Neil in the Country Fire Authority and also spoke about Neil's service to the community, service to the CFA and his community awards.

In January 2009 Neil received an OAM for his services to the community of Stawell and the CFA.

Neil has been a member of the Stawell Field Naturalists Club since 1957, he is a current member of the Stawell Historical Society, a member of the Biarri Stawell Genealogy Group, member of the Deep Lead Cemetery Trust and a member of the Ararat Railway Heritage Association.

He first joined the Country Fire Authority in 1951, received a national medal for services to the Stawell Fire Brigade in 1990, was made an honorary life member of the CFA in 1991 and last year received his 60 years service badge from the CFA.

Sue Morisset, Manager of Royal Women's Hospital Foundation, also spoke in relation to Neil's long association and generosity to the hospital.

She said Neil's family connection with the Royal Women's Hospital dated back to 1866 and Neil had continued the tradition.

After his wife Joan sadly passed away at the hospital Neil wanted to continue his connection with the hospital by becoming a donor and supporter.

"We are very lucky to have Neil visit us about twice a year, Sue Morisset said.

She said on his visits he delivers a bag full of home-turned wooden bowls and potato mashers for the hospital to sell and help raise funds.

"I have one and let me tell you, no home should be without one. Not only do they do a brilliant job on the potatoes, but I suspect would also fend off the worst of burglars."

Ms Morisset said she admired Neil's generosity and his wonderful sense of humour.

"Neil, with the agreement of his family, has chosen to make a bequest to the Royal Women's Hospital in his will and has kindly allowed us to use his story to encourage others to support the hospital in the same way.

"On behalf of everyone at the Royal Women's Hospital, our sincerest thanks for your unwavering support and our heartfelt congratulations and very best wishes for your birthday," she said.

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