After decades of volunteering his time tending to the beautification of Littleton Gardens, 85-year-old Marshall Campbell says it's "time to stop and smell the roses".
Council didn't have a gardener and we thought it needed attention.Bega's Marshall Campbell
This week is National Volunteer Week, and after over half a century of volunteering with pony and showjumping clubs, country shows and in the gardens with his late wife Hazel, Mr Campbell has decided to put down his shovel.
Born in Bemboka, Mr Campbell began volunteering in 1966 after suffering a spinal fracture during his football career, later exacerbated by a fall from a horse.
The injury drove him to join the Federated Municipal and Shire Council Employees' Union, and he was later awarded with a life membership due to his dedication.
Diagnosed with a brain tumour at the base of his spine last year, Mr Campbell is the last remaining member of a group who volunteered their own time to maintain the gardens in the 1990s, a time when he says the gardens were "going to wrack and ruin".
"The gardens were in a mess," Mr Campbell said.
"[Bega Valley Shire] Council didn't have a gardener and we thought it needed attention."
The group transformed the space into one full of vibrant roses surrounded by tall gum trees. The gardens were then redeveloped by council in recent years, and the large gum trees and flower beds removed.
"It's a pity they [council] took the gums out, the public didn't want it to happen. There was nothing wrong with them, there was shade," he said.
He said he would like to see the memorial plaques for murdered schoolgirls Lauren Barry and Nicole Collins put back in the gardens, along with other plaques removed during the redevelopment.
"You can't do what you want to do anymore, it's all what council wants," he said.
In 2004 the Bega RSL sub-branch awarded the couple for their garden work, and Mr Campbell has kept his wife's spirit alive more recently with the Eat the Park project.
Trained in mustering stock on the Monaro Plains, Mr Campbell had a reputation for skills which were almost unmatched by any other.
He still holds the record time riding a horse bare back back-to-front and at full gallop around the Bega Showground in 1959, and it's a record likely to never be broken.
"Lenny Ward was taken to hospital with concussion, and so the Coppers said it was too dangerous and it never ran again," he said.
He said the key to winning is to "look straight out over your horse's tail, don't look over your shoulder".
Mr Campbell and Hazel at times would spend almost every day tending to Littleton Gardens, and he said "volunteers keep the region going".
"Even the shows wouldn't run without volunteers," he said.