WILLIAM Ross Hamilton-Foster, known locally as Ross Foster, has been rewarded for his work in the district throughout the years with a prestigious honour – a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the community of Kempsey.
Mr Foster has volunteered for a number of groups in the community for the past four decades and is now being acknowledged with an award for this dedication.
Upon hearing the award news, Mr Foster said he was taken by surprise.
“It was very emotional to think that people thought I was doing a good job,” Mr Foster said.
Growing up in Cronulla, Mr Foster moved to the Macleay Valley as a young teacher in the 1970s and began working at Collombatti School.
He has always had a passion for sports and became involved in a number of clubs in the community, including rugby league and squash where he was elected as the inaugural president of the newly formed Kempsey Squash Club in 1979.
Also being a keen runner since his teenage years, Mr Foster was instrumental in forming the Kempsey Jogging Club in 1982 where he was also president.
An interest in horses led to him becoming involved in the Kempsey Show Society, The Challenge Rodeo committee and the Mid North Coast branch of the Australian Stock Horse Society. This is where he became known for his announcing at community events.
“We knew you were here because we heard your voice over the microphone,” is a statement Pam and Ross Foster said they had heard many times throughout the years.
Mr Foster was the voice of a number of rodeos and Kempsey Shows for many years and from then until today, his voice has been heard at over 30 Kempsey Marathons and at triathlon events up and down the coast for the past 25 years. He has also MCed at Carols on the Green and ANZAC Day in Crescent Head, as well as a number of other MC roles for a variety of organisations since 1984.
Mr Foster’s passion for sport and fitness was a leading factor in his career as a teacher. Seeing children involved in sport activities is something he is proud to have driven in the community. His involvement in primary school sport along with his love for running saw him manage many local and district cross country events over the past 30 years.
One of Mr Foster’s greatest wishes is for every child to be given the opportunity to learn to swim. He has been the coordinator of the Special Swim Scheme for public schools in the Kempsey area for over 20 years. Water safety and the importance of everyone learning CPR was one of the reasons that he became a member of the Kempsey Crescent head Surf Lifesaving Club in 2002.
“I wanted to give them the skills to save someone’s life,” Mr Foster said.
Mr Foster has served as president of the Surf Lifesaving Club from 2006-2009, is an ardent fundraiser, and is currently the vice-president of the club. Throughout the years he has used his knowledge of CPR and training and shared these skills with a number of community groups and school students in the area.
“I just wanted to be involved in the community. I don’t like to just be a member, I like being involved as well,” Mr Foster said.
His community involvement in the Macleay since the 1970s has been vast and encompassed a wide range of organisations.
He has always had a strong belief in being an active member of the community and returning home after travelling always confirms his belief that he is blessed to call this part of the world home, especially his much loved village of Crescent Head.
Mr Foster will receive his award for service to the community of Kempsey later in the year at Government House.