The Farm Writers Committee and Members pay special tribute to the following people who have been honoured as Life Members in recognition of their contribution to the Association. This list may not be complete as there are few existing records of Farm Writers during the 1980s.
Past Life Members
After joining Farm Writers in January 1976 when working as a PR Assistant to Doug Denham at the Royal Agricultural Society, Noreen joined the Committee in 1978 and became the first woman to be elected President in 1998. On retiring from Farm Writers in 2004, Noreen was made a Life Member in recognition of her 25 years’ service to the Association.
Noreen had a long career with the Australian Wool Corporation. In 1993 she formed her own consultancy Coulton Communications, and continued to work in fibres and fashion including promotion and publicity for Ermenegildo Zegna.
She passed away in 2015.
Sandy joined Farm Writers in 1974 and went on to become one of its most passionate supporters. He joined the Committee sometime in the 1980s and served as President from about 1990 until 1996. He was made a Life Member in 2001 and retired from the Committee in 2006.
Sandy was a long-standing member of the ACAJ executive and IFAJ vice-President for Southern Hemisphere and Asian Countries from 1995 to 2000. He was the Organising Chairman of the 6th IFAJ World Congress, held in Australia in 1988, and again for the 9th World Congress in Australia in 2000. He also represented Australia at many IFAJ conferences across the world.
Sandy had a long career as an agribusiness communications executive spanning a wide range of rural industries.
He passed away in August 2020, aged 81.
Doug was a journalist working for the Sydney Morning Herald and then Country Life before becoming the Public Relations Manager for the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW.
He was elected Vice President of Farm Writers in 1967. He retired from the Committee in 1980, at which time he was granted Life Membership. He returned to the Committee during the 1990s before finally retiring from it in 1995.
He passed away in 2014.
Bill was elected President of Farm Writers in 1971 and retained that post until 1979, when he was honoured with a Life Membership. During this time, Bill represented Farm Writers at the Asian Agricultural Journalists and Writers Association (AAJW) conference in Iran in 1976.
Stan was first elected Secretary of Farm Writers in 1969 and then President in 1979. He was made a Life Member in 1972.
The amount of formal correspondence, the size of the regular newsletter and the coordination of guest lists for the lunches indicate the massive contribution Stan made to Farm Writers during the 1970s. Stan’s phone number always appeared at the bottom of the newsletter as the booking contact for the next lunch.
Stan instigated the formation of the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) in 1973 and acted as its Secretary for some years. He was also involved in Australia’s membership of the Asian Agricultural Journalists and Writers Association (AAJW) and was the General Secretary when it was Australia’s turn to run that Association and host a conference.
He worked for CSR, where his role included being the editor of all its internal publications, which led him to form and become the first President of The Society of Industrial Editors, a national body with some 150 members. His 20 year career prior to CSR included working for a number of rural newspapers and a period of war service. Following the war, he wrote the history of the 42nd battalion that he had been attached to in New Guinea.
He retired after 23 years with CSR in 1980 and formed his own communications consultancy Stan Benson and Associates. During this time he lectured at the Sydney Technical College.
He passed away in March 1995.
Bill was one of the three foundation committee members in 1966 and subsequently was awarded Life Membership in 1971.
Geoff was one of the convenors of the initial meeting of Farm Writers in 1966 and was the founding Secretary/Treasurer of the Association, although the two roles were separated shortly after with Don Jones assuming the role of Treasurer.
Geoff retired from the Committee in 1969 and was made a Life Member.
Current Life Members
Paul was first elected to the Farm Writers' Committee in October 2010 and became Vice President in 2011. During the 2011/2012 year, Paul was very involved in the re-development of the website, which was the first to facilitate bookings and payments to attend events. At the time, this was a significant advancement. Our first YouTube recordings commenced in February 2012.
Paul was elected President in October 2012 and held office for three years. During this time membership was very strong with up to 35 Corporate Members. There were 4-5 Agribuzz events each year as well as eight seminars. The biggest of these was the 2014 seminar with Barnaby Joyce as the guest speaker, attended by a record 162 members and guests. It was sold out in 48 hours!
For many years, Paul was the committee member responsible for managing the website. This task became increasingly difficult as technological advances meant the website become more outdated and its many deficiencies had to be patched over. During 2019-20, he led a sub-committee which developed a new website - an extensive process as many options were explored and assessed. He made sure all committee members were trained to operate their part of the website (no mean feat!)
Bev first joined the Farm Writers’ Committee during 2001 to fill a casual vacancy, and was formally elected at the AGM that year. She was elected Vice-President in 2002 and President in 2005, holding each position for three years. Bev served as Secretary from 2015 to 2019, and covered the Treasurer’s leave on many occasions – which means she has held every position on the executive.
It was during Bev’s term as President that Farm Writers decided to award the winner of the annual Star Prize in rural journalism the prize of a trip the IFAJ Congress.
In 2008, Bev developed the concept of Agribuzz, with a format more suited to younger members of Farm Writers, to encourage them to attend more events. Three events were held in the first year, and Agribuzz has grown to be an integral part of the Farm Writers’ calendar, with attendance figures averaging over 100 per event.
Bev remains on the committee to this day and continues to be very involved in speaker engagements, particularly for Agribuzz.
Stuart joined Farm Writers in 1997 and the Committee in 1999. He served as President from 2002 to 2005, being the first non-journalist/public relations person to hold that position. He filled in for a few months as Treasurer in 2005 before finally taking on the role full time from 2007 to 2012, when he was made a Life Member in recognition of his 15 years’ service to the Association. During his time on the committee, Stuart represented Farm Writers at the IFAJ Congress in South Africa in 2004 in recognition of that country’s support of the 2000 Congress in Australia.
He retired from the Committee in 2012 but continued to do the accounts for Farm Writers before again taking on the role of Treasurer in 2016.
In 2016, Stuart prepared a chronology of the Association to mark it’s 50-year anniversary, including archiving all the relevant historical files in the NSW library.
Stuart worked in agribusiness for over 50 years encompassing a number of industries, geographic locations and careers. He now lives at Castle Hill where he is a regular golfer.
Don was on the original Committee which formed Farm Writers in 1966 and became Treasurer within the first few months. Don left the Committee in 1973 when he was transferred to Melbourne by his employer, the Australian Wool Board, and returned to Sydney and the Committee in 1980.
He was elected President in 1996 and served two terms before finally retiring from Farm Writers in 1998. He also represented Australia at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) conferences in Japan in 1972 and Ireland in 1981.
Don was a Public Relations Officer with the Australian Wool Board during the Chairmanship of Sir William Gunn, after which he became the NSW Farmers Magazine editor. He later joined The Land newspaper, where he became Editor in 1979. He was highly regarded throughout rural NSW for his in-depth articles on a wide range of rural issues. He retired in 1991 and now lives with his partner Heather at Nelson Bay, NSW.
Trevor was a long serving member of Farm Writers and was first elected Vice President in 1972 and then President in about 1982, a position he held until about 1990. He was made a Life Member in 1994. Unfortunately there are few surviving records of his term as President other than detailed financial records which confirm that the Association continued to hold regular meetings and prosper during this period.
Trevor had a long career with the ABC, including many years as presenter and producer of the Country Hour. He has now retired to a small farm near Central Mangrove.