A man of

On 1 June 2004, the Member for Narracan Ian Maxfield told State Parliament about George Nicholson.
“No-one has driven an organisation like Farm World and Trucks in Action the way he has,” Hansard recorded.
George had just retired as chief executive of the Gippsland field days, now better known as the Lardner Park events.
For his send-off, the committee gave him a dinner with 100 guests and a holiday on The Ghan.
“It was a privilege to work for the field days,” he says.
This was just one of several roles George took up after a career in public relations at General Motors Holden and a top job as national marketing and promotions manager at International Harvester in the 1970s.
For the past two years, George has continued his interest in agricultural promotions by working with Berwick Show Society president Warwick Glendenning to raise sponsorship for the show.
George began his show promotions work as public relations officer for the Gippsland field days, and in 1986 was promoted to general manager and company secretary.
The role included managing major events, corporate responsibilities, budgeting, promotions, sales, and special events.
He was president of the Victorian Field Days Organisation in Victoria for 19 years.
Field days are industry displays that can reap a million dollars a year and attract 50,000 people. They bring together farmers, machinery manufacturers, and retailers. For the general public they offer food and wine, education, competitions, and opportunities to spend money and learn about agriculture in all its forms.
Little wonder then that the organisers of field days and agricultural shows needed a man with George’s background to head up and promote the events.
With about 800 companies exhibiting, the field days at Warragul always attracted a senior politician, usually the Premier, and socialites would particularly like to receive a special invitation.
“My wife Trish and I would go to all the functions, but when an event was underway I was never seen, because there was work to do,” George says.
“A board of 12 people ran the event. They then appointed a chairman and deputy chairman and a paid CEO.”
He met every Premier from Rupert Hamer onwards.
“I will always remember former Premier Lindsay Thompson’s handshake. It nearly crushed my hand.”
George has led three trade delegations to New Zealand as a Victorian Government assignment and represented the Gippsland field days on many trade committees.
Originally a city person, he grew up at Alphington and lived at Rosanna before moving to Drouin with Trish and their daughter Michelle. The family moved to Berwick three years ago.
“We love living in this town,” George said.
Soon after arriving in Berwick, he joined Berwick RSL sub-branch, at first to learn more about his grandfather at Lone Pine. He is now the secretary.
With a history in public relations and promotions, George was a suitable candidate to become marketing and sponsorship director with Drouin Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank, and since 2004 he has overseen the distribution of more than $1 million of funds to community groups.
“When we shifted to Drouin I learned very fast about the country community network as a way of finding assistance,” he said.
The big banks had pulled out of town, so the community stepped in.
“The idea is always to distribute funds.”
It takes about five years for a community bank to move into strong profit mode. The cost of buying a licence is about three-quarters of a million dollars. This provides the infrastructure and connections.
Community banks are distinguishable from normal Bendigo Banks by their logo, which contains the word community.
Profits of the community banks are shared with the community.
“The Drouin branch of Bendigo Bank community branches, with approximately $150 million in balances, is rated in the top 10 of the 235 community branches Australia-wide,” George said.
Trish has been right beside him in all his work and rock solid in supporting all his endeavours.
The couple are keen golfers, and George was president at Drouin for five years.
He nearly forgets to mention that last October he won a heat on the ABC quiz show the Einstein Factor.
“I was eliminated in the play-off round but it was a closely-run thing and it was a bit of fun.”
A story goes that at a family Christmas party in 1976, it was decided to give the kids a thrill and have someone dress up as Santa.
George took on the job, thinking it would pass once the kids grew up. Now with a new generation of families, 34 years later he is still playing Santa.
At election time, voters might see him at the booth, because he is also a senior election official with the Victorian Electoral Commission.

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