By Russell Bennett
For the next little while, Pakenham cricket legend Eddie Lewis may just be unrecognisable to generations of locals.
On Saturday at Toomuc Reserve he sat still as the hairs from his bushy, white, iconic beard blew away in the breeze all thanks to another iconic Pakenham figure, Graham ‘Uncle’ Treloar.
Eddie hadn’t been seen without a beard for over 45 years, but that all changed on Saturday as part of the Pakenham Cricket Club’s Pink Ladies Day to raise awareness of breast cancer and funds for the McGrath Foundation.
Hundreds of ladies gathered around the RL ‘Cracker’ Jackson Stand on Pakenham’s front oval to watch Eddie do his bit for the cause as his stunned family watched on.
“I felt a bit rough at stages, but we got there,” Eddie said after the shave, which was a key component of the cricket club event that raised a staggering $10,487 for the McGrath Foundation.
“When the beard was half off and I felt that side of my face, I thought this is a bit of a worry!”
After the shave, back in the rooms, Eddie admitted he became emotional – particularly when presented with a Mark Knight caricature of him with his beard.
“I was talking to a lady who’d gone through breast cancer and she just about had me in tears,” he said.
“I just said ‘I’m only shaving my beard off – you’ve gone through the hard yards. Whether my beard grows back or not isn’t a major drama, but you’ve got to go through life getting tests all the time which is always a worry in the back of the mind’.”
Eddie said it hit home just how many of the 200-plus ladies in attendance for the function would have had their own stories to tell.
“Life isn’t just fun and games. There are a lot of things happening to good people and it’s just terrible – you can’t take anything for granted.”
Eddie’s friends and family came from all over the country – both across Victoria and interstate – to watch his beard come off.
“My youngest grandson is five-and-a-half and he was a bit unsure – he just keeps looking at me, and my wife Julie still isn’t 100 per cent sure about it either,” he said of the end result.
“Before they couldn’t see the expressions on my face when I was answering questions or making statements, and now they can so it’s a big difference!”
Pakenham Cricket Club president Phil Anning is the driving force behind the now annual Pink Ladies Day.
“Not only is he the greatest cricketer who’s played at Pakenham, he’s the greatest bloke too,” he said of his great mate, Eddie.
He praised the support he’d had in organising the event, from the businesses around town getting behind it financially, to the ladies who helped transform the Pakenham Football Club social rooms for the occasion.
“It was a team effort by everyone who worked so hard, from everyone who set up the marquees, to those at the club, to Graham Treloar doing the shave, to our guest speaker Sarah Powell, to Mark Knight who donated the caricature to the club.
“To have these people involved and give up their time for nothing is just outstanding, and I think it just goes to show what regard people have for the McGrath Foundation and also what a battle it is to try and help find a cure for breast cancer.”
For more on the Pink Ladies Day at Toomuc Reserve, turn to pages 48, 49 and 52.