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We extend our deepest respects and sympathy to the family and friends of George Henry Bennett OAM. As our oldest Hawkesbury alumnus, George was a great friend and champion of the University who knew hundreds of students personally and touched the lives of many in his 97 years.
George lived an incredible life and was a loyal supporter of the University, staying strong to the values and traditions that set his career in motion and a fine example of sharing our Western values of Boldness, Fairness, Integrity, Excellence.His connection to Western Sydney University goes back eighty years to 1942 when George received a telegram informing him that he had been awarded a bursary to commence studies at Hawkesbury Agricultural College — now part of Western Sydney University. Having grown up on a dairy farm during the Depression, this bursary was imperative to his studies. He boarded the train the next day and travelled to Hawkesbury, beginning a long and dedicated association with the campus that meant so much to many.
A week after arriving at college, George won the Junior Farmers Scholarship, which funded his entire Diploma of Agriculture. The outbreak of World War II interrupted his studies, but he was able to complete his second Diploma in Dairy Technology in 1948.
George began a career with the Department of Agriculture as a Dairy Officer in 1949, concurrently holding an official role in training and supporting junior farmers. He subsequently held a role with the Department of Education until eventually joining Western Sydney University Hawkesbury campus as staff in 1970, where he had a long and distinguished career organising practical training for Agriculture students until his retirement in 1986. George enjoyed working with young people, especially encouraging them to “know their own strengths and abilities and direct them in the right direction so they can benefit from their own abilities”.
He went on to serve as Director of the Hawkesbury Foundation for more than 10 years, until 2009.In 2016, George was awarded an OAM for his service to agricultural education as well as rugby union – a passion he dedicated over 30 years to as a referee.
George enjoyed working with young people, especially encouraging them to “know their own strengths and abilities and direct them in the right direction so they can benefit from their own abilities”.
“In my case”, he once told us, “I’d never have been there if it wasn’t for the bursary”.
George volunteered his time at many agricultural competitions and had a long list of awards, including once being awarded the Sydney Royal Easter Show’s Show Legend Award.
Staying true to his roots, George was particularly generous with his time, mentoring and passing on knowledge to younger generations as well as donating to appeals to support scholarships for new generations of agricultural students at Hawkesbury.
Having started out on a bursary himself, George strongly supported providing opportunities for those who otherwise couldn’t afford a university education. “In my case”, he once told us, “I’d never have been there if it wasn’t for the bursary”.
We thank George, for the wonderful legacy he left at Western Sydney University.
Published July 2022