MAX Higgs and his family gave more than just the best medical care for the people of Inglewood.
They became the heart of the community. Max was the founding chairman of the Inglewood and Districts Community Bank, while wife Annie helped to found a tennis team and volunteered for a number of groups.
Yet even they were surprised at the response from Inglewood when arriving at a farewell event at the local sports centre.
More than 200 people were already there, keen to greet Dr Higgs and his family for one last send off.
Inglewood and Districts Health Service sold the practice, allowing the Higgs’ to take a break from the demanding role in the town.
But it was a role Dr Higgs had cherished.
“Annie was born here, I was born here, I was the doctor at the hospital where I was born,” he said.
“When we first came to town, it was a 24/7 job, a lot of hard work. It’s changed a lot in recent years.
“The people of Inglewood are very, very generous.”
Dr Higgs had served as the GP in Inglewood for 26 years, after five years in Wedderburn. People from throughout Loddon Shire would come to him for treatment.
His medical work has not finished yet either, as he plans to travel around Australia as a locum doctor.
During a speech, Inglewood community bank director Stewart Luckman said the town was fortunate for the service of Max and Annie.
“I came across a wonderful quote of Max’s which I think sums up his involvement in our community: ‘The work can be demanding, but one cannot put a price on the value of being a trusted and respected part of the community’,” he said.
“But as you are aware, behind every successful man is one truly amazing woman, and Annie is no exception.
“Annie’s commitment to family and her contribution to both the community and medical practice are no less important than those of Max’s.”
The Inglewood Lions Club put on a huge spread, while community members brought a plate of food to ensure the feast was one to remember.
All with a tale of care
Being a GP in a small town is full of challenges, but for the patients, having a familiar friendly face can be critical for care.
All of those at the farewell for Dr Max Higgs and his family had a tale to tell of his care.
Merle Harrison said it was his “kindness” that made him such a great doctor. Having known Dr Higgs since he was a baby, she said having a local as the doctor made a difference.
“Even when he sticks a needle in your arm,” she joked.
“He was always happy to have a chat even after your appointment was finished.”
Janis Kerrigan travelled from Melbourne for the farewell, to thank him for the support of her mother Margaret and late father Don Curnick.
“He treated my dad for many years and both my parents have had the best care,” she said.
“He was also a big part of the community. That’s what you get in country towns.”
New doctors have been recruited for the Inglewood clinic.