LAST weekend I had the immense pleasure of presenting an award to one of the most genuine and generous people I've ever met.
John Forbes OAM is quite simply, one of a kind.
Deeply loved by all who know him across the complete spectrum of society, this rare gift of a man has a presence that belies his stature.
Just knowing John Forbes is an honour.
His infectious humour and ripping one-liners, his legion of stories about time spent with so many world famous sporting stars, and his genuine interest in local people and helping whoever he can, simply has no peer.
He'd give you the shirt off his back without a moment's hesitation, maybe even his trademark braces if he thought you needed them.
Those of us lucky enough to know Forbesy already know this, but if you ever get the chance to meet this incredible man, do it.
The occasion of last Friday's award was the annual Bendigo Sports Star awards - the best feel good and uplifting night on offer here in Bendigo.
While in years gone by Sports Star might have felt to be more about celebrating our region's many elite athletes, that's certainly not the case anymore.
That's no criticism of the awards history, but Sports Star these days celebrates community champs just as much as it does the sporting champs.
Forbesy - sometimes known as Mr Modest, even took the time to ring me the next day from his beloved Mitiamo farm to reflect on the night before and have a chat.
I'm not entirely sure the great man didn't shed a tear whilst we spoke, so emotional was he after being named alongside legendary doctor and sporting benefactor Dr Wally McGregor as a co-recipient of the Faith Leech Inspiration Award the night before.
Forbesy recently donated his lifelong collection of priceless sporting memorabilia to the Rochester Sports Museum.
Suffice to say, it's a collection like no other.
He also helped set up and then chaired the Blue Ribbon Foundation for 20-odd years.
He was made a Member of the Order of Australia for this and other efforts to help others throughout his career.
Being asked to make a speech about Forbesy and to share a stage with him for just a few minutes is the undoubted highlight for me of almost a decade of involvement in the Sports Star awards program.
He might be advancing in years, but Forbesy's mind is as sharp as a tack.
I guess it's this astuteness and concern for others that led the great Herb Elliott to offer Forbesy a job all those years ago.
As a champion distance runner, Herb chased a rare few, he was usually in front of the pack, but he chased Forbesy all the way into the national promotions manager position for Puma.
About a decade ago, Forbesy was pretty crook, around the same time a testimonial cricket match was being held in his honour, here in Bendigo.
The list of cricket stars lining up to pad up for this event included former Australian captain Mark Taylor, spin king Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Elliott, Merv Hughes, Damien Fleming, Ian Healy and Simon O'Donnell.
This group of legends had a few things in common.
They had played a combined lazy 564 Tests and 971 one-day internationals for Australia, but this was a game for Forbesy, the bloke from Mitiamo, Bendigo and Puma who'd given them all so much to help kickstart their careers.
Forbesy was the marketing guru who knew all these celebrities before they were ever famous, and they were the celebrities who never forgot the man from Puma who helped them along the way.
Forbesy was so ill a week or so out that there were genuine concerns he might not make it, but we should have known better.
Thankfully, they breed them tough in Mitiamo, and turns out tougher than what a lot of medical experts thought.
Nine years later, the trademark shuffle might be slowing and the walking stick might not leave his side, but Forbesy goes about every day with a minimum of fuss and a great sense of appreciation.
Forbesy can entertain you for hours with his stories about some of the world's greatest cricketers who he met whilst at Puma.
He could pick an all-time Australian test cricket team out of his trademark flip-top phone that would beat any other, save for the fact I don't think Sir Donald Bradman ever had a mobile phone number.
But if he did, Forbesy would have it.
Of that I've no doubt.