THE south-west has lost a great advocate for wool with the death at the age of 89 of David Wilkinson, of Wangoom.
Mr Wilkinson had been a steward for the Warrnambool Show’s fleece competition for about 35 years, 19 of them as chief steward.
He retired from the chief steward position in 2010, handing over the position to his son, Roger.
His good networking with wool producers throughout the south-west, particularly those producing British sheep breeds and fine wool Merinos, built the Warrnambool show’s fleece competition into one of the biggest in country Victoria, with about 80 fleeces entered in last year’s competition.
The wool pavilion at the Warrnambool showgrounds is named in his honour and the Warrnambool Agricultural Society has made him a life member to thank him for his contribution.
Warrnambool Agricultural Society president Bill Sleep said Mr Wilkinson was “a quiet and respected man.”
“He was able to source fleece from all round the Western District.”
Mr Sleep said Mr Wilkinson was also a steward for fleece competitions at the Royal Melbourne Show.
He encouraged wool producers who enjoyed success at Warrnambool’s fleece competition to compete in Melbourne and raise the profile of wool from the region.
Mr Wilkinson bred Cheviot and Romney sheep and also had a commercial Merino flock at his Warrumyea property at Wangoom.
While he bred British breeds, which are primarily meat sheep, he also loved wool and was a qualified wool classer.
Mr Wilkinson was a property valuer for much of his professional life and was the valuer for the City of Melbourne.
During that time he ran a farm at Lilydale on Melbourne’s outskirts where he established his Romney stud in 1961 and his Cheviot stud in 1974.
He shifted to Warrumyea after retiring and brought with him his considerable experience in running fleece competitions at agricultural shows. He had been chief wool steward at the Lilydale show for 29 years and at the Yarra Glen show for 26 years.
His son, Roger, said his father loved mentoring others about wool and running fleece competitions.
He had run a shearing show at Tintern College at Ringwood East for decades and its wool shed was named after him.
He also taught young people how to be show stewards, and the Victorian Royal Agricultural Society awarded him its President’s Medal in 2002 in gratitude for his contribution.
Mr Wilkinson was married to Dorothy (deceased) and is survived by his son, Roger, daughter, Diana Underwood, and his sister, Cynthia Wilkinson.