Brian Neville dies
Woy Woy resident Mr Brian Robert Neville died in his home on Saturday, January 7, at the age of 76.
Mr Neville was an active campaigner for the Woy Woy Public Hospital Alliance and fought for the return of the rehabilitation centre.
He was born at Grenfell on January 3, 1936, at the height of the Great Depression to Rose Stenfors and Robert Neville.
"Life wasn't easy in those days and conditions were hard, but being born as a true Aussie Battler gave Dad the tools he needed to overcome and triumph over the many challenges, hardships and very hard knocks that were to face him as he went through life," said Mr Neville's son Grahame.
He had a younger sister Alice and a brother Allan, who was born with polio and was crippled for all of his short life.
"Unfortunately dad's family broke up when he was 15 and, like a lot of adventurous young blokes in similar circumstances, he ran away to join the war in Korea where he was wounded, found out to be underage and sent home," said Grahame.
Mr Neville returned to Griffith where he worked as a mechanic and rode and raced motorcycles.
He then joined his grandparents in Kangaroo Valley and went into the timber business.
"It nearly killed dad at age 19 when he was logging with a horse and was struck by a tree," said Grahame.
The accident resulted in a broken back and 12 months in hospital where he underwent one of the first spinal fusion operations performed in Australia.
"Dad showed his true spirit, courage and determination to recover from this injury to again work with the timber business, play football and ride motorcycles.
"However, it couldn't go on forever," said Grahame.
"After meeting a young Irene Whatman at a dance at Burrawang, dad moved to Mittagong with the Cupid family where he worked as a painting contractor, eventually set up his own business with his partner Tommy Hagon.
"The painting business was easier on dad's injured back but he would eventually have to change again," said Grahame.
Brian and Irene were engaged in 1960 and married in 1962.
The next few years were a turmoil for Brian.
While his new family was growing with the birth of his three sons Grahame, Ken and Darren, he lost his own family with the passing of first Allan, then his sister Alice and their father.
Shortly after their passing, Mr Neville joined the Commonwealth Police Force in 1973, where he served in duties in protective services and anti-terrorist and bomb squads around the Sydney area.
"Dad believed it gave him the job security to raise his family with a stability he had never known before," said Grahame.
"But a serious leg injury when he put a foot in a rabbit hole while running down a hill on a training exercise nearly put a premature end to his career.
"Dad fought back again and, after nearly 12 months on workers compensation with operations and rehab, resumed his career to eventually retire as a station sergeant in 1990 after 18 years service.
In 1992, Mr Neville moved to the Central Coast and bought a paint and paper shop at Woy Woy and built a new house in Stratford Park Estate in Terrigal.
"If Dad thought he had done it tough with his early family life and back and leg injuries, life had more to throw at him yet," said Grahame.
"After a triple bypass in 1994, Dad sold his paint and paper business and took up employment with the expanding Campbell's family hardware business.
"Another back operation two years later was followed a year later by the biggest challenge yet.
"He was diagnosed with an aortal aneurism and given less than six months to live or undergo surgery with a 50-50 chance of survival.
"He elected for surgery and endured six months in intensive care followed by another six months of operations to remove both his legs.
"That was nearly 13 years ago.
"But Dad, determined as ever learnt to walk on his artificial legs, joined the Central Coast Amputees Association and assisted them with fundraising.
"Mum and Dad then moved to their current home in Woy Woy where Dad was able to move around better and could be more independent.
"Although his death appeared sudden, he had been having more heart problems and I was glad he didn't have a prolonged period of suffering, considering the last few years.
"Dad was always cheeky, good humoured and had a story to tell to whoever would listen and called everyone Fred.
"He remains my friend, mentor and above all my hero," said Grahame.