It takes a lot of work to keep rural towns alive
It also takes people like Joy Hill to do the heavy lifting at the heart of institutions like country footy clubs
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WHEN Joy Hill commits t o something, she sticks with it.
Married for 41 years, nurse at Euroa Hospital for 35 years, secretary of the Merton Racing Club for 33 years and secretary of Bonnie Doon Football Club for more than 30 years, not to mention canteen worker for nearly as long, shows that when she picks, she sticks.
Joy was born in 1951 when her parents lived at Merton.
“I went to Merton Primary School and then to Alexandra High School, because the bus went that way,” she explained.
“At school I only had one desire, to be a nurse, maybe from the example of relations who were nurses.
“As soon as I got my matriculation, I went into training.”
These were the days when nurses trained in hospitals.
“I started at the Prince Henry Hospital for three years to get my general nursing certificate,” Joy said.
“Then I went to the Royal Women’s for my midwifery certificate.
“I was then ready to take on nursing as a double certificate nurse.”
In 1974, Joy married husband Murray and they headed for a working holiday over in the west.
“I spent five years at the Fremantle Hospital in the emergency department and intensive care,” she noted.
“We both had jobs and the lifestyle was great.
“Our first daughter Natalie was born over there.”
In January 1980 Joy and Murray returned to the Mansfield valley.
“Murray had been a farmer at Strathbogie so we bought a farm at Merton and we have been there ever since,” she said.
“He looked after the fat lambs and I returned to nursing at Euroa Hospital.
“I started in June 1980 – driving that Merton Euroa road five days a week for 35 years.”
Joy always tries to drive in daylight leaving home at 7am and getting back between 6pm and 7pm.
“I am now the nursing unit manager, one of the longest serving there,” she said.
“That road hasn’t changed much but the amount of roadkill has.”
Nursing was only the day job for Joy – she filled in her hours with other pursuits.
“My dad had been secretary of the Merton Race Club for years and I took over from him,” she outlined.
“I was elected secretary about 1982 and I am still in the chair.
“The funny thing is I am not a horse person – it is more about helping out the community.”
Now a life member of the club, she started in a tin shed and has seen the picnic races become the standout racing event in the area.
Next came Joy’s attachment to Bonnie Doon Football Club.
“My dad followed Bonnie Doon, it was our nearest club and my husband had played for Strathbogie before it folded,” she said.
“So Bonnie Doon was it from the early 1980s, first as a supporter and then on the committee.
“My daughters, Natalie and Leonie were in the first netball team the club fielded – Leonie played nearly 300 games and she still umpires.”
From helping out where she could, it did not take long for Joy to become secretary.
“In small communities like Merton and Bonnie Doon it is hard for life to survive,” she noted.
“Both t owns have l ost t heir schools, so it is the sporting entities that have to keep going, to be the heart of the towns.
“I do not have a great interest in football, a soft spot for Essendon maybe, but I love the involvement with the people.”
Joy soon added canteen helper, which she still does, to her resume.
“Dawn Kipping collared me and hasn’t let me go since,” she said with a smile.
Nothing goes on forever though and Joy already has plans for the future.
“We will retire from the farm – we have a home in Mulwala to go to,” she said.
“I will not stop nursing but it might become part-time, I would miss it if I didn’t.
“I especially like caring for the elderly, giving them comfort, let them talk and I listen.”
At the moment Joy and Murray have the best of both worlds, Merton and Mulwala.
“As for the secretary of the race club, I might see if Natalie would take over – the third generation,” she said.
DOING HER BIT: As you will find Joy Hill at any Bonnie Doon home game, in the canteen.
Weekly profile on our people by Courier journalist Peter Hunt