Fred Collett – A deserving Living Legend

HONOURED: Fred Collett is one of Bathurst's newest Living Legends. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 051717cfred
HONOURED: Fred Collett is one of Bathurst's newest Living Legends. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 051717cfred

After being awarded the esteemed rank of a Living Legend on Proclamation Day, Fred Collett agreed that the title was a huge honour.

“Yes it is. Very humbling to accept it. But I’m a bit embarrassed because there are more people out there that are more deserving,” he said.

“There’s a lot of deserving people out there, that get behind good causes.” 

Mr Collett accepted the award alongside another six Bathurst residents – Margaret Ashelford, Jim Buchan, Wendy Jenkins, Iain McPherson, Norah Taylor and Debbie-Lynch Benham.

He arrived in Bathurst in 1965, from Clandulla, near Kandos.

He had lived his entire life in Clandulla up until then, being born in Kandos.

Before arriving in the city, he was conscripted to the army in 1954.

This came a year after the conclusion of the Korean War and during the Malayan Emergency. 

Mr Collett remained in Australia, remaining on stand-by. He then was apart of the air force from 1959 to 1965. 

His departure from the air force coincided with his arrival in Bathurst. 

Mr Collett’s first volunteer work in his new city was joining the Holy Trinity Anglican Church’s parish council, and held the role as treasurer for 25 years.

In the early 1990s, he was asked to be a trustee with the Turondale Reserve Trust, a role Mr Collett still holds.

In 1997, he became a foundation member of the Mid-State National Servicemen's Association. He became treasurer in 2006 and still remains in that role.

Mr Collett took a walk down memory lane when he became a member of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Association in 1999.

RAAF Association is a non-profit organisation established in each state and territory, to promote social activities, welfare, commemoration events, aviation history and the memory of fallen friends.

Come the turn of the century, Mr Collett joined the Bathurst RSL Sub-branch and in 2002 became a committee member for the Carillon Custodian. 

In 2008, he had the honour of being invited to join legacy and he is still visiting war widows. 

“We look after windows and visit them. We help them in what ways we can and provide help, if needed,” he said. 

“What they went through, it made the country what it is today. Without their service, we would not have the freedom we have today.”

In Bathurst’s centenary year, in 2015, Mr Collett was nominated for an Anzac Spirit from and the award was presented to him by former Bathurst MP John Cobb. 

Along with his commitments with the Bathurst RSL, he also raises the flag for services that are held at the RSL – whether Anzac Day, Remembrance Day or any other service. 

The 81-year-old is married to Beryl and they have three children – two sons and a daughter.

He also has two granddaughters. 

Bathurst has certainty changed in the 50 years from Mr Collett’s perspective. 

“It’s certainty grown into a big place, from 15,000. It was too big back then. You have peak-hour on Hereford Street now,” he said. 

Mr Collett received a frame certificate, which acknowledges his Living Legend status. 

The 2017 Living Legends will have trees planted and named in their honour along Bradwardine Road, where the other 209 recipients of the title are recognised in the same fashion.

There has now been 216 Living Legends announced and 214 remaining living, after the passing of Ange Peard and former Bathurst mayor Bruce Boland.