THE LOCAL FILES: NICK ROBERTS (OAM)
A few years ago we introduced you to Nick Roberts - one of the first Mt Martha locals we profiled on our blog, The Local Files. And now we have a very important update - Nick has been awarded an OAM - Medal of the Order of Australia (in the General Division) - for his service to the community of Mt Martha.
Originally from Yorkshire, Nick Roberts is a long time Mt Martha resident who loves everything about the area. His family emigrated from the UK when Nick was just two years old, so Australia has always been home. Bentleigh and Croydon were the first suburbs where Nick and his family resided, which was in those days was all farmland and narrow unsurfaced laneways.
“I had always wanted to be a motor mechanic, desperately. But my mother said I had to get an education first, so I struggled through matriculation as it was in back then, originally getting into a commerce degree before being offered a place doing law during the first year for the degree at Monash University.”
Nick and his late wife, Anne, both qualified in law and worked with legal firms in Dandenong and the city before travelling overseas for 12 months, working in legal offices in London. They headed back to Australia to find it difficult to re-enter the workforce. While Anne found work in the city with a law firm, Nick decided to take over a disused funeral parlour above an estate agent in Glenferrie Rd, Malvern and set up his own law practice, which he describes as ‘marginally less than a success.”
A few months later, Nick and Anne took a drive to the Mornington Peninsula, stopping in Mornington and “falling into the clutches of a very good friend who was saddled with a very small shop that he rented and needed to offload. By the end of the day he had talked us into taking over his lease at a sum of $16 per week, and we set up our legal practice at 41 Main Street, Mornington which we opened in April 1973. I commuted from Hawthorn for some time, and moved to Mornington full time around 12 months later (living behind the practice premises). The firm was Roberts & Roberts (now Roberts Beckwith). I retired in 2003 when Charles Beckwith, one of my partners, bought the business.
“Mornington is an amazing town. People are so friendly. Within the first week of opening the business my opposition had all knocked on my door offering their assistance if I needed it. It was great. Things kicked off pretty well for the first few months until the recession in 1974, but then six months later things came good again and off we went.”
"Anne and I had three sons (who are now in their forties) and they all went to school locally, starting at Osborne Primary School. Together with a group of residents we agitated to get the local kindergarten going, and we then focused on establishing Mt Martha Primary School. We got the Education Department (who owned the land where the school now sits), to open the school there in 1982. The boys all attended the school, followed by Peninsula Grammar in Mt Eliza.”
We loved living in the area. We moved to Finlayson Ave and lived there to the early 1980s when we built a house at 26 Bay Rd. We lived there until around 2002 and then built another house on the block behind and lived there happily until 2010 when Anne sadly passed away from ovarian cancer. I did stay on for a few years before I met Sandra and we bought a house from Sam Danckert in Kilburn Grove.
“I’m semi retired really. I have a business in Mornington called Watt Rd Storage which I work at a few days a week, and up until two years ago I was working with VCAT a few days a week. I’m still consulting with a client in Carrum Downs plus I audit superannuation funds in my spare time. The weeks fly by.”
“There’s something a little bit different and very special about Mt Martha and the Mornington Peninsula. Perhaps it’s the beach that makes the area so unique. And I think it’s because it’s a relatively small community. You can still go to the shops and know people in the general store and pass people you know in the street. It has a village community feel.”
Nick has been a very active member of the local area and has a keen interest in community affairs. From his involvement with establishing the local pre-school and Mt Martha Primary School, Nick has been a councillor on the school committees. He was a Director of the Bays Hospital Group for over 36 years and has been a volunteer fire fighter with local Fire Brigade and founded the Mornington men's hockey club. He is also a Rotarian and the Chairman of the Mt Martha Community (Bendigo) Bank. He has always given of his time and his expertise, as a way of ensuring he was part and parcel of the community. Nick is a local treasure, that’s for sure.