Obituary: Athol Frederick Richardson MBE

(20/4/1924 to 24/9/2008)

My name is Athol Richardson I remember living in the same house over 60 years
Athol Frederick Richardson MBE (20/4/1924 to 24/09/2008)

In 2004, when Athol was being admitted to the Toosey Aged Care facility at Longford, Tasmania he was introduced to other residents as being a legend but being well known in the area would have needed few introductions.

Athol was born at Deloraine the second youngest of a family of one girl and four boys, the children of Frank and Ida Richardson. His sister Ila (Mrs. Greig), and brothers, Viv., Roy and Eric.

The family initially lived at Selbourne but when Athol was four years of age moved with the family to another farm at the Green Rises district of Cressy. He was to remain at the farm for the next 60 years.

When he was 12 his father Frank died and on reaching 18 years of age, Athol took over the running of the farm which he later purchased.

Athol was an innovative and progressive farmer and was amongst the first in the district to sow down paddocks to grass and clover, even though being advised by a representative of the Department of Agriculture that he was wasting his money. So successful was the paddock that surrounding farmers soon followed his example.

With water becoming available from the Poatina Power station, Athol quickly recognised the potential benefits for the Cressy-Longford region and set to work to gain water for the area.

Not only was he chairman of the organising committee for 8 years, but also using an altimeter borrowed from the Launceston airport, walked the area mapping possible channel routes. So meticulous was his work that the channels when finally installed were little different from which he proposed.

During the Second World War, Athol trained and served with the Volunteer Defence Corps. Also in his early years he together with his brother, Viv, took on the job of carting a survey marker to the top of Dry’s Bluff. The materials were moved by bullocks and cart up the mountain track from Blackwood Creek to the Sand Stones, with the items then being physically carried the rest of the way to the top. It took a number of weeks to complete the job.

Athol was also actively involved in numerous community organisations including being a gate keeper for the Bracknell Football Club, and time keeper at sheepdog trials.

He served for lengthy periods with a number of Community organisations including:
* the Bracknell Football Club from 1962 and where he was granted life
* a delegate to the Esk Football Association, 16 years
* Bracknell Area School Show, 19 years
* Bracknell Area School Farm Board, 7 years
* Bracknell Batinton Club, 9 years
* Bishopsbourne Hall Committee, 20 years
* Bishopsbourne Progress Association, 37 years
* Bishopsbourne Sports Association 28 years,
* Cressy Bowls Club, 8 years
* Cressy Swimming Pool Committee, 4 years
* Chairman of the Wilmot Badminton Association, 17 years
* Chairman and Life Member of the Bishopsbourne Badminton Club, 17 years
* member of The Northern Agricultural Society (Longford Show) for over 40 years with Life Membership being granted in 1996
* a member of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation for 29 years
* Northern Tasmanian Wool Commodity Committee for 15 years.

In 1955 Athol was first elected to the Longford Municipal Council where he served continuously for 28 years during which time he was treasurer for 17 years.

While with the Council he served as a member of the:
* Northern Tasmania Development League, (1961 to 1976)
* Northern Tasmanian Regional Organisation, 3 years
* Tamar Regional Master Planning Authority, 6 years, and the
* Northern Tasmania Regional Council for Social Development for 4 years.

In the week prior to the monthly Longford Council meeting Athol, and sometimes in the company of the Council Works supervisor, would make a road tour of the Municipality and bring back a list of items needing attention. One of these recommendations was the realigning of the main road at Blackwood Creek. This work involved the making of a substantial cutting through a hill, and on completion and in recognition was named “Richardson’s Cutting”.

A. F. Richardson (left), who is serving his first term on the council, looks through the visitors book with Mr. G. Cairns, who was a councillor for 27 years and Warden for 16 years.

A. F. Richardson (left), who is serving his first term on the council, looks through the visitors book with Mr. G. Cairns, who was a councillor for 27 years and Warden for 16 years.

Athol was also strongly involved with the Methodist Church, now the Uniting Church. This was firstly at the Butleigh Hill church until it was destroyed by fire in 1947 and afterwards at Bracknell. At Bracknell he was a Church Steward for 25 years, a Property Trustee for 19 years and a member of the Church Council for 33 years.

In 1989 in recognition of his distinguished life time service to the Community, Athol was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE).

Athol, who never married, was noted with good reason as a “Legend” in his life time.

Athol Richardson is buried at the Longford Cemetery.

Prepared by Ivan Badcock (first published 4th October 2008).

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