As well as having nine children and a business, Horsham's Dawn Hobbs has always been actively involved in her community. Her story continues our With Heart series...
AT almost 90, Horsham’s Dawn Hobbs still manages to keep busy – and as a grandmother to 30 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, she’s certainly kept on her toes.
Twenty-five years ago, Dawn lost her husband of 40 years, Ken Hobbs, to cancer.
She has been involved with the Horsham Cancer Council committee ever since.
“At the annual meeting, Marie Walker said she would do the secretary’s role but she didn’t want to do fundraising, so I took on the fundraising co-ordinator role and I’ve done it since then,” Dawn said.
“I don’t like speaking in public, but I do like organising things.”
Over the years, the committee has run concerts, a mid-winter feast, Daffodil Day fundraisers and morning teas.
“We’ve just raised $2000 with a morning tea recently,” Dawn said.
“But we’re all over 80 years-old and I’m coming up 90.
“There are just four of us left on the committee when there used to be 40 people.
“We’re thinking it will be our last year.”
Dawn said when the group was formed, it was the only cancer fundraising group of its kind in the Wimmera.
“Now there are also breast cancer and children’s cancer groups,” she said.
“But we’ll just keep coasting along and we’ll do small things like Daffodil Day.
“We’re not able to do any big things anymore.”
Born in Horsham, Dawn grew up on the family farm at Byrneville and has always lived in the Wimmera district.
She had two years boarding at Horsham High School and planned to pursue a nursing career after that.
“But Dad died the year I came home,” Dawn said.
“He was 47. There were three siblings younger than me and one older – and Mum needed me.”
The then Miss Mills was kept busy on the farm until she met Ken Hobbs at a dance.
The couple married when Dawn was 22.
“We went to a lot of dances in those days; I loved dancing,” she said.
The former Belle of the Ball went on to have nine children with her new husband.
Ken drove trucks and the couple ran service stations for quite a few years, as well as a taxi service.
“I drove taxi cars to the station when the trains were due,” Dawn said.
In between, Dawn was president of Horsham Kindergarten and secretary of the Bennett Road state school, as well as having a heavy involvement in Girl Guides.
Today’s mothers might wonder how Dawn managed with nine children and a business – as well as remain active and involved in the community.
“I guess I always fit in in, some way or another,” she said.
“I sewed for them all and fitted it in – and my husband was good at helping.”
Dawn has also made thousands of sponge cakes in her time, which home cooks would know requires some skill.
“There was always something to be cooking for, I made sponges and I made that many of them,” Dawn said.
When the Hobbs children grew up, Ken and Dawn took trips with their caravan.
“But we mainly went to Port Fairy so the kids could be there with us,” Dawn said.
“They’re all living in Victoria these days.
“There’s one at Shepparton, one at Torquay, one in Ballarat, one in Warracknabeal and one in Brimpaen and the other four are in Horsham.”
In her later years, Dawn took up croquet with Kalimna Park Croquet Club.
“I love my croquet and I played tennis as a young person,” she said.
“But I can’t play anymore, my back’s gone on me.
“I’ve had to give croquet up and give up dancing, but I still go to help.”
Dawn attends three dances a month at Hamilton Lamb Memorial Hall.
She has been a a committee member at the venue for 10 years and has had stints as secretary.
She has also been involved with the Wimmera Health Care Group Hospice Auxiliary.
Hamilton Lamb Memorial Hall hosts the dances for Horsham Cancer Council committee.
Two of the dances Dawn attends are ‘Dances for Cancer’ with money raised from the event going towards cancer research.
She also attends one old-time dance each month.
“I’ve had a good life,” Dawn said.
“It was hard when I lost my husband, but we managed to cope and the children were wonderful.
“I’ve got a good family.
“I love them very much.”
Daffodil Day will be on Friday, August 25.
Dawn asked anyone with daffodils growing in their garden who was willing to donate them to help with fundraising for Cancer Council Victoria to call her on 5382 4371.
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I guess I always fit in in, some way or another. I sewed for them all and fitted it in – and my husband was good at helping.