Selwyn Allan Ferguson (March 15, 1931 – July 19, 2016)

Selwyn Allan Ferguson was born in Smithton to Ellis and Muriel Ferguson on March 15, 1931.

He lived in Norwood at Forest alongside his eight siblings: Rosalie, Carly, Linda, Alma, Valerie, Maureen, Nola and Cedric.

His schooling was completed at Forest Area School, where rumour has it the late Roy Wells and Selwyn both resolved to come bottom and second bottom of the class.

His main interest was the farm: peas, potatoes, pigs, cows, hunting and fishing with the House boys.

Wednesday nights were for prayer meetings while Sundays were reserved for church.

In 1941, age 10, Selwyn made the decision to make Jesus the lord of his life and never turned back.

In 1945, age 14, he left school in grade eight to work on the family farm; his father handed him a portion of the land to work and earn for himself.

So with a growing small business earning 100 pounds a year off his paddock, a car and an active social life, there was only one thing missing – a female.

Selwyn sought some romantic advice from his Uncle Wiseman Spinks, who mentioned a few possibilities of potential candidates, one of which was Beverly Wigg from Broadmeadows.

Now apparently she was too young to chase, however Selwyn knew her dad, Ira Wigg from the cattle sales.

It is unclear if Selwyn knew about Ira’s oldest daughter and then befriended him, or he befriended Ira and then found out about his daughter, however, Ira had worked out that Selwyn had an agenda and so told his daughter: ‘I know a young man who likes you.’

‘Who is it?’

‘Not telling because you may look like a woman but you’re not one yet.’

Selwyn remembers Bev being baptised at the El Nathan gospel hall conference in 1951, he sat next to her and together they sung “Jesus is Tenderly Calling”.

‘My word you can sing,’ Selwyn had said to his love interest.

‘So can you,’ she had replied.

‘Can I take you home?’

‘Ask Dad.’

Ira: ‘Only if you take some of the other girls with you.’

Two years later the pair were engaged, and Ira talked Selwyn into buying the farm at Mawbanna.

On April 17, 1954 Selwyn married his sweetheart and started life on a farm that didn’t even have electricity.

Then two years later came the first of their children, Linley Anne, the delight of Selwyn’s life.

Soon followed Vicki Lee, Kent James, Darren Lester, Amanda Rose and Vanessa Jane.

Moving on to 1974, Selwyn was shocked by the sudden loss of his mum at just 66 years of age, but it was just over a year later in 1976 that Selwyn would endure a life threatening, life changing event that would echo throughout the district.

While trying to put a Friesian bull back in his paddock, the bull turned on Selwyn and proceeded to gore him and throw him around like a rag doll, even dragging him down the road, until 13-year-old Darren bolted out of the house with his brother Kent in tow, and threw a mallet at the bull, hitting him square in the forehead, dazing him and distracting him.

Selwyn sustained extensive injuries including a near severed left arm that he largely had no feeling in for the rest of his life. He had a broken jaw in two places, and part of his ear was reattached in surgery, and he spent three months in hospital in recovery, with Kent, son-in-law Greg and brother-in-law Neil Stokes helping to keep the farm running.

It was a terribly traumatic time for the whole family, so much so that the bull accident ushered in the early arrival of Selwyn and Bev’s first grandchild, Adam to Greg and Linley.

Twenty-three grandchildren followed, then 27 great-grandchildren.

Selwyn was a man who instilled Christian values in his children, leaving loving memories for them all to cherish.

Linley remembers growing up on the Mawbanna farm, a constant companion for her dad. Together they rode tractors – Linley steering from the tender age of three – and collected cream cans.

Dinner would consist of spuds, swede, home-grown lamb and eggs from the chooks.

One fateful evening Selwyn came inside from the dairy craving eggs for tea but the pantry was bare so he swiftly, by torchlight, went to try and retrieve a few eggs from the chook house. As he bent down to grab those golden eggs a chook pooped on his head and as one can imagine, quite a commotion was had.

Vicki remembers drinking cold sweet tea with her dad after working on the farm, and loves the memories of him always praying with her before she went to sleep, something that Vicki’s own children have carried on with their kids.

Kent holds one of the earliest memories of Selwyn’s famous ‘double whistle’. Apparently one day at school in grade one, everyone could hear this high-pitched sound and no one could work out where it was coming from. But then someone saw the green commercial driving along the road and the sound became louder, and they said, ‘It’s Kent Ferguson’s dad’s whistle!’ This embarrassed Kent at the time, but now he says it makes him proud, knowing that his dad’s whistle became famous throughout Forest.

Kent also remembers falling asleep while driving the tractor when he was just eight, towing a trailer full of turnips. He awoke pretty abruptly when a turnip was thrown at his head and broken in half.

Darren mostly remembers having his hide tanned by his dad, all because of a little fascination with inventions. He particularly remembers being disciplined when his dad went to mow the lawns, but the motor and wheels were missing so he looked out in the yard and saw Darren on a homemade go kart. Days later, Selwyn was wondering why one of the water troughs was not working, and he proceeded to find that about 10 metres of galvanised pipe for feeding the trough was now in use for another go kart frame.

Mandy remembers being a little chubby as a child and so when her dad went to pick her up to get her over the barbed wire fence, she would try to assist by jumping and would then ask, ‘Was that easy?’ A saying that Selwyn would keep alive for the rest of his life, and frequently ask Mandy for no apparent reason at all.

Vanessa remembers getting a cassette recorder for her birthday and spending many hours interviewing her dad about life on the farm, and he loved hearing his voice back over and over again. She also remembers her dad coming in every night and singing a goodnight prayer.

Selwyn’s friends and community too will remember him for his many wonderful ways.

Firstly, that whistle! Arguably the loudest in the district.

Secondly, his humble nature, that of a true gentleman devoted to his family and God.

And lastly, a ‘really great’ man who always had a smile for everyone.

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