A THREE-TIME business owner and dedicated community man has moved on to retirement, which, by his own admission, was long overdue.
Grahame 'Spud' Spurway just sold the Bathurst Heritage Motor Inn to the Inzitari family of Lithgow, closing an important chapter on a business that he built from the ground up.
He ran the business alongside his wife, Marlene, over that time and in recent months had the help of his son-in-law, Garry Davis.
It was a tough decision to move on, but he knew it was the right time to do it.
"I've been here for over 20 years, was overdue for retirement," Spud said.
"We built the motel up from 22 rooms to 48, plus three cottages - we retained the cottages as a B'n'B for ourselves.
"Over the years the change to the motel industry is now high-tech, with the internet bookings being the main part of the system.
"I have comfort in Chris [Inzitari] and the family of keeping the high-quality standard of the hotel, with a rating of 9.2 out of 10, the only motel in Bathurst that is 4.5 stars. I'm assured that they will keep the standard and even better it."
He said he had "great appreciation" for all the staff who have worked at the motel, particularly during the turbulent times of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
"The last 12 months have been a challenging time with COVID, but the motel looks like its going on to a great success as the return of business is coming forthwith," Spud said.
"We've been consistently booked out for the last three months of business."
While the motor inn has been Spud's business for decades, it's not the only business he has run in the Bathurst community.
He came to Bathurst in 1967 and started a business shortly after.
"I've always worked for myself. I came here to play football and bought a milk run. I played for Railway, a couple of premierships," he said.
He did the milk run for 18 years before changing careers and opening Bathurst Removals, which kept him busy for the next 10 years.
Then it came time for the Bathurst Heritage Motor Inn, which continued to grow over the years.
In 2019, it was awarded the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame Certificate of Excellence.
Certificate of Excellence recipients make up just 10 per cent of all listings on TripAdvisor. The certificate is given for maintaining a customer review rating of four-and-a-half stars or above.
Establishments that have received a Certificate of Excellence for five years in a row go into the Hall of Fame.
At the time the award was presented, the motor was the number one traveller-ranked motel in Bathurst on websites TripAdvisor, Booking.com and Trivago.
Accolades like that made Spud even more proud of the business his family had built.
"It's a great asset to Bathurst and it's the only four and a half star motel. It's really hard to get because I don't have a restaurant; you lose half a star if you don't have a restaurant," he said.
A suite of successful businesses is not Spud's only claim to fame in Bathurst.
He also spent 44 years as a retained firefighter until his retirement in 2010.
Mr Spurway served most of his career as a volunteer and deputy captain with Kelso Fire Brigade, but also served in the Orange and Bathurst brigades.
He was at some major blazes in his time, having attended the fire at the Bathurst jail and one at a plastics factory.
At his retirement dinner in 2010, Spud told the crowd that the most dangerous fire he'd attended was a house burning in George Street where a man had booby trapped rooms with drums of diesel fuel, enough to destroy a city block.
Assistant Commissioner, Jim Hamilton, presented three awards to him at his retirement dinner: a third clasp to his NSW Fire Brigades Long Service and Good Conduct medal in recognition of 40 years service, and a Meritorious Service Medal for his actions at a unit fire in Durham Street in 2004.
The whole community knew he was a hero that morning in 2004.
Two women, a man and two young boys were in the unit at the time of the blaze and could have lost their lives, had Spud not followed his instincts and investigated black smoke he spotted on his way to work.
The front door was deadlocked and there was no smoke detector to alert the occupants of the fire.
"I suppose this is what you're trained to do as a fireman - save people's lives," Spud told the Western Advocate in 2004.
"Another 10 minutes and the people inside the unit would have been history."
Heroics aside, Spud is also a proud family man at heart.
He is the father of two children, Shane and Sharon, who he shares with Marlene.
In chatting to him, he was determined to share the credit for his success in business with his wife.
He knows he could not have run them without her by his side.
"She was the backbone of the three enterprises I've run in Bathurst," Spud said.
Now that he no longer has a big business to run, he plans to take life a bit slower and enjoy whatever comes his way.
Spud and Marlene will be staying in the Bathurst area for the foreseeable future and are ready for their next adventures together.
"It's time to get a life and see some enjoyment in retirement," he said.
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