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A full life on the Fleurieu

Peter Whitford epitomises the saying that ‘busy people stay busy’. In his 87 years, he’s not stood still for long.

Peter wakes at 6am every morning, reads the paper and then tends to his Normanville Heights garden, “to keep it tidy”.

He then heads to the Myponga farm to check the fences and animals, and — depending on the season — cart hay or control weeds.

Last summer’s harvest saw Peter cart over 800 round bales. The son of artists who by chance became dairy farmers when they bought the Roslyn Vale property in Myponga, Peter remembers growing up helping his father clear the land and the time their first Jersey stud bull and cow arrived.

Another highlight was when he bought the farm’s first tractor from savings he’d squirrelled away from a-pound-a-week wage.

When Peter married his childhood sweetheart Madge, the couple moved into a sleepout while he built their first home. He did it all: bricklaying, plumbing and second fix.

Here, the couple raised their three daughters – Bronwyn, Amanda and Merridie – and enjoyed a vibrant community and strengthened Roslyn Vale’s reputation as a premium stud and dairy farm. The farm is still in the family and today supplies The Fleurieu Milk Company.

Peter played football, attended Willunga High School and grew to serve the community he loves.

A snippet of his many roles includes seven years as Chair of Willunga High School’s council, eight on the board of Dairy Vale, 17 as Chair of the Mount Compass Field Day, 40 as a fire officer, over 50 on the Myponga Sporting Club committee, and just shy of three decades on the Yankalilla Council — seven as mayor.

He’s also a life member of the Australian Jersey Society and the Myponga Memorial Community Centre.

While Peter continues to put his hand up to support his community, these days the farm and his church are what keeps him most busy.

“This is a great area to live. My community and family have given me more than I could have imagined… I’ve been very fortunate.”

This summer like many in years gone past, he joined his church at Normanville’s VACSWIM, handing out ice blocks and sunscreen each day.

He also got a kick out of speaking at last year’s Agricultural Teacher’s Conference and Urrbrae’s open day, where he imparted his knowledge of cows and shared his life story.

To recognise Peter’s dedication to his community he received an OAM in 2006 and is often asked if he’s met any famous people.

“My wife, Madge,” he replied. Madge sadly passed away three years ago.

He could also add Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister John Howard, Governor Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Peter accesses at-home support services with ACH Group, funded by the Commonwealth Home Support Program, to help him to continue to live in his own home.

This interview was published in the Good Lives Magazine – Autumn 2022, read it here.

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