Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Making Things Better

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Making Things Better

Article excerpt

Byline: Lachlan Thomspon

MORE than a decade ago Jim Agnew lay in the children's ward at Maclean Hospital, he was more 60 years old and it was evidence the health facility was insufficient.

When he got better, he got out of bed and decided to fix the problem.

On Tuesday night the Clarence Valley Council decided to recommend naming Yamba's new community health centre, on Treelands Drive, the Jim Agnew OAM Health Centre.

Mayor Richie Williamson acknowledged Mr Agnew's contribution along with his lengthy battle.

"No one dares to say no to Jim," Cr Williamson said.

As an indication of the contribution this man has made, while he was giving a tour of Yamba's ambulance station, the officers on duty were called out to a job.

"You know how to let yourself out," the paramedics said to him as they rushed off.

And he does, he practically built the place.

Mr Agnew started life as the son of a First World War veteran in the small village of Molong, near Orange, on New South Wales central west slopes.

As a child he had a bout of pneumonia and everyone started calling him Little Jimmy after his father.

The name stuck and no one knows Jim by his given name, Dudley Robert Agnew.

Like many Australians who grew up during the depression, Mr Agnew missed out on schooling.

"I went to work with very little education as an 11-year-old boy during the depression," Mr Agnew said.

"But that's where I learnt a lot, working for the best farmers.

"The kind who carried a book in their shirt pocket and after harvest or sowing greased and replaced everything on their machinery and put it away in a shed instead of leaving it lying in a paddock."

On his 18th birthday Mr Agnew sheared 218 merino sheep.

"And then for a blow-out I went rouseabouting," he said.

A few years later, in a cold shearing shed near Captain's Flat, outside of Canberra, Mr Agnew contracted pneumonia.

Unable to face the rough conditions which were hand in hand with farm labouring at the time, he went to work in a Holden garage. …

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