FORMER long-serving television journalist and Tamworth poultry farmer Ted Hebblewhite has died at the age of 81.
The former small-screen newsman who was larger than life in the agricultural industry with his nightly TV updates for something like 20 years passed away last Friday, January 25.
Mr Hebblewhite was 81 and had been battling pulmonary fibrosis, which became progressively worse, over the past 18 months.
He was regarded by his peers, and many who tuned into the regional news, as a fine journalist and a true gentleman.
For years from the early 1980s he was fondly referred to as the “Ted-ster” by his colleagues.
He was a pioneer in agricultural journalism and appeared on the then New England/North West television channel NEN 9/8 keeping farmers informed of everything from the price of hoggets in Moree to a virulent outbreak of rust and smut near Gunnedah.
Mr Hebblewhite also worked as a producer and was honoured with countless awards for journalism. He was a household name and somewhat of a local legend, and knew his oats, wheat, barley and sorghum.
He, together with a cameraman colleague, developed the show Countryside, which aired across 22 stations in regional Australia.
John Begley was a cadet reporter with NEN, now Prime TV, when he first met Ted and said he was both shocked and saddened by the news of his passing.
“He was truly, just a lovely man,” Mr Begley said.
“We met in the 1970s when I started working with NEN and I can just remember he was not only the go-to guy for everything to do with the agricultural industry he had this amazing affinity for people living on the land,” he said.
“He seemed to really connect with the people he met and had an empathy for the situations, trials and tribulations they faced working and living on the land.”
In 1971, after inviting Italy to be a guest nation at the Tamworth Field Days, Mr Hebblewhite was knighted by that country.
He was also presented a Dalgetty Award, and awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study cattle in Europe.
Born Edward King Hebblewhite, Ted as he was more commonly known, grew up in Sydney and went to school at Barker College where he was a keen rugby union player, swimmer and diver.
After school, in 1948, Mr Hebblewhite joined the Sydney regiment of commandos in the Army Reserves and attended university at night, where he studied economics.
He became a freelance agricultural journalist, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald and Newsweek, before moving to Tamworth in 1968 as a salaried journalist.
His love of agriculture came from his mother’s side of the family, who grew up on farms in Queensland.
He and Barbara met and married in Tamworth in 1970.
Barbara said he all but joined the Rotary Club of North Tamworth the day after they returned from their honeymoon.
They established their poultry farms on the outskirts of town and managed to survive a tornado sweeping through in 1976.
After that the couple rebuilt and in 2006 Mr Hebblewhite officially handed over the reigns of the farm to his son Guy.
In latter life Mr Hebblewhite wore many hats, many of them to help other members of the
He was secretary of the Tamworth Meat Chicken Growers, an advocate for prostate cancer and a mentor at Peel High School.
He is survived by his beloved wife Barbara, daughter Julia and her husband Rob and son, Guy and his wife Genene, six grandchildren and his brother Guy, who lives in South Australia.
Ted will be farewelled at a funeral service tomorrow from 2pm at the Alston Chapel in the Lincoln Grove Memorial Gardens on the Gunnedah Rd.