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Life Members

The Farm Writers Committee and Members would like to pay special tribute to the following people who have been honoured as Life Members in recognition of their contribution to the Association. This list may not be complete as there are few existing records of Farm Writers during the 1980s.
  • Geoff Murray – 1969
  • Bill Bailey-Tart – 1971
  • Stan Benson – 1972
  • Bill Ritchie – 1979
  • Doug Denham -1980
  • Trevor Brown – 1994
  • Don Jones - 1998
  • Sandy Grieve – 2001
  • Noreen Coulton – 2004
  • Stuart Hutton – 2012

Past Life Members

Geoff Murray

Geoff was one of the convenors of the initial meeting of Farm Writers in 1966 and was the founding Secretary/Treasurer of the Association, although the two roles were separated shortly after with Don Jones assuming the role of Treasurer. Geoff retired from the Committee in 1969 and was made a Life Member.

Bill Bailey-Tart

Bill was one of the three foundation committee members in 1966 and subsequently was awarded Life Membership in 1971.

Stan Benson

Stan was first elected Secretary of Farm Writers in 1969 and then President in 1979.  He was made a Life Member in 1972.
The amount of formal correspondence, the size or the regular newsletter and the coordination of guest lists for the lunches indicate the massive contribution Stan made to Farm Writers during the 1970s.  Stan’s phone number always appeared at the bottom of the newsletter as the booking contact for the next lunch.  
In addition to his work for Farm Writers, Stan was the instigator of the formation of the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) in 1973 and acted as its Secretary for some years. He was also involved in Australia’s membership of the Asian Agricultural Journalists and Writers Association (AAJW) and was the General Secretary when it was Australia’s turn to run that Association and host a conference.
He worked for CSR, where his role included being the editor of all its internal publications, which led him to form and become the first President of The Society of Industrial Editors, a national body with some 150 members. His 20 year career prior to CSR included working for a number of rural newspapers and a period of war service. Following the war, he wrote the history of the 42nd battalion that he had been attached to in New Guinea.
He retired after 23 years with CSR in 1980 and formed his own communications consultancy Stan Benson and Associates. During this time he lectured at the Sydney Technical College. He passed away in March 1995.

Bill Ritchie

Bill was elected President of Farm Writers in 1971 and retained that post until 1979 when he was honoured with a Life Membership. During this time, Bill represented Farm Writers at the AAJW conference in Iran in 1976.

Doug Denham

Doug was a journalist working for the Sydney Morning Herald and then Country Life before becoming the Public Relations Manager for the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. He was elected Vice President of Farm Writers in 1967.   He retired from the Committee in 1980 when he was granted Life Membership. He returned to the Committee during the 1990s before finally retiring from in 1995. He passed away in 2014.

Noreen Coulton

After joining Farm Writers in January 1976 when working as a PR Assistant to Doug Denham at the Royal Agricultural Society, Noreen joined the Committee in 1978 and then became the first woman to be elected President in 1998. On retiring from Farm Writers in 2004, Noreen was made a Life Member in recognition of her 25 years’ service to the Association. 
Noreen had a long career with the Australian Wool Corporation and in 1993 she formed her own consultancy Coulton Communications, and continued to work in fibres and fashion including promotion and publicity for Ermenegildo Zegna. She passed away in 2015.

Current Life Members

Don Jones

Don was on the original Committee which formed Farm Writers in 1966 and became Treasurer within the first few months. Don left the Committee in 1973 when he was transferred to Melbourne by his employer, the Australian Wool Board but returned to Sydney and the Committee in 1980. He was then elected President in 1996 and served two terms before finally retiring from Farm Writers in 1998. He also represented Australia at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) conferences in Japan in 1972 and Ireland in 1981.

Don continues to assist with judging entries for various writing prizes including the annual “Star” prize, the recipient of which wins a trip to the annual IFAJ conference.

Don was a Public Relations Officer with the Australian Wool Board during the Chairmanship of Sir William Gunn, after which he became the NSW Farmers Magazine editor. He later joined The Land newspaper, where he became Editor in 1979. He was highly regarded throughout rural NSW for his in-depth articles on a wide range of rural issues. He retired in 1991 and now lives with his partner Heather at Nelson Bay, NSW.

Trevor Brown

Trevor was a long serving member of Farm Writers and was first elected Vice President in 1972 and then President in about 1982, a position he held until about 1990.  He was made a Life Member in 1994. Unfortunately there are few surviving records of his term as President other than detailed financial records which confirm that the Association continued to hold regular meetings and prosper during this period.

Trevor had a long career with the ABC, including many years as presenter and producer of the Country Hour. He has now retired to a small farm near Central Mangrove.

Sandy Grieve

Sandy joined Farm Writers in 1974 and went on to become one of its most passionate supporters. He joined the Committee sometime in the 1980s and then served as President from about 1990 until 1996. He was made a Life Member in 2001 and retired from the Committee in 2006. 

Sandy was the ACAJ President from 1990 to 1998 and also IFAJ vice-President for Southern Hemisphere and Asian Countries from 1995 to 2000.  Sandy was the Organising Chairman of the 6th IFAJ World Congress, held in Australia in 1988 and again for the 9th World Congress in Australia in 2000. He has represented Australia at many IFAJ conferences across the world since 1986.

Following a long career as an agribusiness communications executive spanning a wide range of rural industries, Sandy continues to work part-time in communications. Sandy and Di live at St Ives in Sydney.

Stuart Hutton

Stuart joined Farm Writers in 1997 and the Committee in 1999. He served as President from 2002 to 2005, being the first non-journalist/public relations person to hold that position. He filled in for a few months as Treasurer in 2005 before finally taking on the role full time from 2007 to 2012, when he was made a Life Member in recognition of his 15 years’ service to the Association. During his time on the committee, Stuart represented Farm Writers at the IFAJ Congress in South Africa in 2004 in recognition of that country’s support of the 2000 Congress in Australia.

He retired from the Committee in 2012 but continued to do the accounts for Farm Writers before again taking on the role of Treasurer in 2016. 

In 2016, Stuart prepared a chronology of the Association to mark it’s 50-year anniversary, including archiving all the relevant historical files in the NSW library. 

Stuart worked in agribusiness for over 50 years encompassing a number of industries, geographic locations and careers. He now lives at Castle Hill where he is a regular golfer.