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

Mansfield Courier - - NEWS -

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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.

PHOTO: Peter Hunt

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

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