It was with a heavy heart that on August 8, the Bega Valley community learnt Cobargo Show stalwart Ray Sawtell had passed away.
Ray had been unwell over the last 12 months off and on but had shown great resilience and overcame many hurdles. But unfortunately his heart issues finally created a challenge he couldn’t beat.
Ray was born into a dairy farming family based at “Narira” 5km north of Cobargo. He showed a great interest in dairy cows, particularly the Jersey breed. He went on to develop his own stud and exhibited some of his best at the local agricultural shows gaining great enjoyment. Ray gained great satisfaction in showing his cows and immense pride if he won a broad ribbon.
Ray was an avid rural youth member in his younger days gaining a lot of knowledge and enjoyment from his experiences in the organisation. This was the prelude to his eventual strong commitment to the show movement.
Ray joined the management committee of the Cobargo AP&H Society in 1955, and in 1962 he became president – in fact the youngest president at 24 years.
He was awarded life membership of the Cobargo Show Society in 1996 and became a life member of the Far South Coast and Tablelands Association of Show Societies in 2012. In 2016 he was presented with a long service award by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW.
During his time as Cobargo Show president he arranged for the Governor General Sir Ninian Stephens to open the show. He was the chief dairy steward at the show for years and among his greatest loves were his roles in the junior judging competitions, showgirl competitions, and rural achiever competitions, organising and ensuring that all competitors were given as much support as possible. He was extremely proud if any of the competitors from said competitions went on to Sydney Royal and won up in the big smoke.
Linked to the show movement was Ray’s role as a group representative and delegate to the Agricultural Societies Council.
Ray’s role was to help all the local shows in his group and attend the meetings in Sydney of the ASC with any problems or issues the shows may have been experiencing. He also bought back to the committees any relevant information the shows needed to be informed of to ensure they ran well. Ray received a medallion from the ASC for his astonishing 62 years of commitment to the group.
Ray became an auditor for many small organisations around Cobargo, recently being recognised for being a member of the local bush fire brigade for 50 years and also auditor for that group as well. Ray was also a justice of the peace and was called upon often to carry out that role for many in the community.
He also was a master in the Manchester Unity Group that had an extreme high profile existence around the local and suburban areas as well.
Ray was a gentle man who was extremely knowledgeable. Ray was always a gentleman. He will be sadly missed by his wife Pam and three sons Peter, Barry and Douglas.
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