WITH an endorsement like "one of the best dads out there", it's easy to see George Aitkin is idolised by his grandchildren.
Yesterday it was confirmed when the Panmure grandfather was named the south-west's Father of the Year, after receiving nominations from his granddaughters Chelsea and Haylee Watson.
Eleven-year-old Chelsea's written letter, describing the the relationship she has with her grandfather, convinced the judges he was more than worthy of the award, a joint initiative of The Rotary Club of Warrnambool and Brophy Family and Youth services.
Mr Aitkin was lost for words as he accepted the award at a breakfast at the Warrnambool Bowls Club yesterday morning.
"It's just terrific, you just do the best you can," he said.
"You don't expect to win awards like this," he said.
Chelsea said she nominated "Pa" because he was an amazing role model who made her feel special.
"He has always been there for me," the Woodford Primary School Pupil said.
"No matter how bad I am at doing something, he is cheering me on.
"Pa supports my every step, I could not ask for anything more or better.
"He is wonderful, funny and one of the best dad's out there."
They will now enjoy a weekend in Melbourne, with family passes to the Zoo and Aquarium.
Premier and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine was on hand to present the award and said it was clear Mr Aitkin was a magnificent Grandfather and Father.
"We all knonw our grandfathers play an important role as mentors and provide many of us qwith our fondest childhood memeories, which is clearly the case for Chelsea and her sister," Dr Nathine said.
Brophy Family and Youth Services' Ian Cairns said there were 998 entries from Warrnambool City and Moyne Shire primary and secondary schools.
He said it was pleaseing to see a grandfather win the award this year.
"One of the things we have emphasised for the five year's we have been running the award is it's just not for biological fathers, but for recognition of any father figure in a child's life," he said.
"We had the highest amount of entries this year, and the qualtity of entries was also very high, it made for some difficult decisions."