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A true local Marshian

Chris Broncinetti (BM Hist. Soc) reads the life of Kelvin Edwards Photo – Helen Tatchell
Chris Broncinetti (BM Hist. Soc) reads the life of Kelvin Edwards Photo – Helen Tatchell

By Jessica Howard

It was Kelvin Edwards’ dying wish to donate his autobiography to the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society.

Close to one year on from his death, the 550-page book documenting his life has been printed and Mr Edwards’ wish granted.

Born in Bacchus Marsh in 1929, Mr Edwards described the 18-years he spent in the town in great detail. His wife Jean, son John and daughter-in-law Clare, donated the spiral bound book to the Historical Society last month.

Clare said Mr Edwards, who suffered from motor-neuron disease, began putting together the autobiography in the last three to four years of his life.

“He had a real love for Bacchus Marsh, he used to talk about it all the time and it was very important for him to recapture his childhood and give something to the town for future generations,” she said.

“Kelvin did a lot of research at the Archive Centre in North Melbourne and the State Library, and he called upon certain people in Bacchus Marsh to help him get all of the dates and details right. He was a very academic man; he got a PHD in education at the age of 80”.

The autobiography includes recollections of the Main Street of Bacchus Marsh, the local Primary School and the township during the Second World War.

“It also refers to Kelvin’s life outside of Bacchus Marsh as he accounted for nearly every week of his life,” Clare said.

“The early years were the most idyllic though, and he describes his life in Bacchus Marsh very fondly and with great detail”.

Prior to his death, Kelvin was admitted to hospital with just one chapter of his autobiography left to write. At the time, his debilitating illness had taken away his ability to move and speak.

“Kelvin was very sick and Jean and I knew we had to get this last remaining chapter finished,” Clare said.

“Jean said to me, ‘I’m not a writer, but I’m happy to tell you the years following 1985’, so we sat down together and belted out a few pages.

“Upon completion, we read the final chapter to Kelvin.

He was at that last stage of his illness where he was so sick that he was barely able to move, but after listening to the final chapter, he tapped his two pointer fingers together as a sign of clapping and he looked at this alphabet board, where he would point towards certain letters in order to make a word, and after about five minutes he spelt out the words, ‘Well Done’”.

Clare said she was pleased to have seen the completion of her father-in-law’s autobiography, which was “very well received” by the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society.

“There were about half a dozen people sitting in the society office and we were spent about 40-minutes, if not an hour, sitting with them and looking through the pages.

“There were names that were obscure to me, but they meant something to the people sitting in that room. I found pages that I thought might be relevant and particular names were pointed out as someone’s great aunt or their great aunt’s best friend. Everyone was interested or attached in their own personal way”.

Mr Edwards passed away on April 29 2016, aged 87. His ashes were interred at the Maddingley Cemetery on Saturday, April 29 – one year on from his death.