Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Loyal Leon loves Mooroopna

It is no surprise Mooroopna’s long-serving Good Friday Appeal co-ordinator is Leon Williams.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK April 18, 2014 4:26am

Loves his town: Leon Williams, 74, will co-ordinate his 40th Mooroopna Good Friday Appeal in support of The Royal Children's Hospital.

It is no surprise Mooroopna’s long-serving Good Friday Appeal co-ordinator is Leon Williams.

Mr Williams, 74, received an Order of Australia Medal this year for service to his town.

He has served as chairman of Mooroopna Recreation Reserve, president of Mooroopna Junior Football Club, treasurer and life member of Shepparton Junior Football League, councillor at St Mary’s Primary School and chairman of Country Fire Authority State Championships.

If that was not enough, this year also marks Mr Williams’ 40th year of service to the Good Friday Appeal.

He organises tags and tins, plans collection routes, places placards and ensures Mooroopna Fire Brigade members turn up on the day.

‘‘It’s just to help out The Royal Children’s, it’s what we should be doing,’’ he said.

Mr Williams said the amount of money the volunteers collected had fluctuated across the decades.

He said the first appeal he co-ordinated in 1974 raised $1150.

Last year, the Mooroopna effort raised almost $32000.

The total amount raised since 1974 is more than $725000.

‘‘Back then we never got nearly as much... in 1974 Mooroopna used to be a pretty small town,’’ he said.

‘‘In the ’90s we did quite well, when the hotels and pubs were here it really got going, but some have closed now.’’

Mr Williams said the one thing that remained the same across the years was the traditional Good Friday fish and chip dinner.

‘‘After the collection and the raffle, we shout the volunteers a fish and chip tea,’’ he said.

‘‘A lot of the blokes used to want to get a hamburger or something, but there was no way known the ladies committee would let that happen.’’

Mr Williams said he had been a firefighter for 59 years.

He got a special dispensation to join Mooroopna Country Fire Authority at 15, after the firefighters noticed him watching them train at the old McLennan St training ground.

‘‘My parents had a house on McLennan St and I used to sit out the front with my dog Whiskey and watch the firefighters,’’ Mr Williams said.

‘‘Now they still all call me Whiskey.’’

Mr Williams said he had never planned on being the appeal co-ordinator for so many decades.

‘‘But then again, there’s a lot of things I do in the community that I never expected to do for so long,’’ he said.

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