Julian Hickford, Clonbinane resident and community radio host, recalls

Julian Hickford during an OKRFM outside broadcast at a community event.

By Ian Blyth

It has often been said that it is not about the number of years on this earth, but about how we experience those years. Clonbinane resident Julian Hickford was a prime example of years well lived.

His life was filled with community activities and adventures from an early age. Mr. Hickford was a member of the Victoria Police and after his retirement as a volunteer on many local community projects.

Many will not have met Mr Hickford but will recognize him by his radio-like voice on community radio station OKRFM, where he presented the popular program Rambles with the late Roger Fletcher for almost 10 years.

He hosted the show twice a week during which he interviewed people ranging from politicians, healthcare workers and other notable people in the area. Many community groups have relied on Rambles to get their message across.

In 2011-2012 Mr Hickford undertook voluntary work regularly taking his beloved dog Sam to visit residents of Dianella Aged Care in Kilmore which was greatly appreciated by the residents.

Also from 2011, Mr. Hickford became an instructor for the Wallan-based Learner Training Program, LTP, which he continued for nearly nine years until COVID and failing health forced him to quit.

LTP is a mentorship program that helps eligible learner drivers reach their 120 hours. During his time, he has logged 1,400 volunteer hours and boasted a 100% pass rate with the young drivers he has mentored through to licensing exam level.

To know and understand what drove Mr. Hickford, it is important to know the child who grew up in England and South America in the late 1940s and 1960s.

Mr Hickford was born in Newmarket on January 31, 1946, the eldest of three children.

In July of the same year, Mr Hickford’s parents traveled with him as a baby to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for his father to take up a managerial position in the railways. They stayed there for three to four years before an uprising saw the family move to La Paz, Bolivia.

They stayed there for two years, then following another uprising, they moved to Oroya, a small mining town at 1200 feet in the Andes in Peru.

Speaking with Mr. Hickford before his passing, it was clear that those formative years in South America played a big part in shaping the man many knew and loved.

While his family remained in Peru in the early 1960s, at age 14 Mr Hickford was sent to Eastbourne boarding school in England for two years due to the lack of school options in Peru at the time.

Although he had been a school captain, Mr Hickford found the restrictions of boarding school difficult to manage and was happy to board a ship for a new life in Australia.

He left Southampton in 1963, aged 17, as part of the Big Brother movement of 15 boys on the Fairsky landing in Sydney after four weeks at sea.

From there, Mr. Hickford moved to Corowa and worked on a sheep farm for about two years until he bought a car and started traveling.

He joined the police during a recruitment drive in Albury Wodonga and was sworn in on 8 May 1967, serving for 14 years stationed in Flemington and Broadmeadows.

In 2002, Mr Hickford suffered a major heart attack which he was lucky to survive. He continued to live his life to the fullest despite this heart attack, and his failing health led to the onset of Parkinson’s disease a few years later.

His relentless battle with Parkinson’s disease and its associated complications has been described as truly inspirational.

Mr Hickford died on December 31, 2021 after suffering a fatal heart attack. He is survived by his wife Danielle.

He bade farewell during a service at Kilmore Golf Club on Friday attended by family and friends. The service was also broadcast live to family members in England.

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