KEVIN Tongue is a man of the land.
He’s been a wool-classer and shearer across the New England since a teenager and still runs a swag of properties at Loomberah.
But the grandfather of 11 is also a passionate community man, who’s gone from former councillor to the region’s leading spokesman on the state’s farming body.
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Kevin, who has no plans of slowing down any time soon, says it’s the community spirit that he loves most about his hometown Tamworth.
Kevin was born in Tamworth in 1950 and raised on the family property that had been balloted in 1909 from Goonoo Goonoo Station.
He then started at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in 1962, where he remained for three years, before enrolling at Tamworth Tech College to study sheep husbandry and wool science for a further two years.
That would set him on a path of wool classing at the age of 18, which saw him shear right across the New England.
He bought the property “Glenwood” in 1971.
In 1974, Kevin married his now-wife Janelle, with whom he had three children in Paul, Alan and Ben.
Kevin then hung up his moccasins and went back to full-time farming in 1977.
In 1990, he bought “Myola” from his father and just 10 years later added “Harrisford” to his property portfolio.
In 2013 he purchased “Manangarro” just four kilometres up the road.
Growing up, Kevin attended the one-teacher primary school at Loomberah, where he was one of just 28 students, making the journey from his property on horse back or pushbike each day.
“It’s a good community,” he said of Loomberah.
“Loomberah is very country minded.
“It’s hard work, but it’s a great way to bring up your family on a property without the hustle and bustle.”
Kevin served as a councillor on the Parry Shire for 13 years, before a four-year term on the first Tamworth Regional Council.
He cites the development of the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre and the Capitol Theatre among his standout achievements as an elected official.
“It was great meeting different people from around the area,” he said.
“When you look back now, the biggest challenge was the equine centre, getting it up and the huge costs involved.
“Now they’re expanding out there with the sports dome, and it’s growing into a great regional hub.
“The Capitol Theatre was also something that Tamworth needed.”
His passion for the agriculture industry has seen him emerge as a powerful voice in the region.
Kevin has been a longstanding member of NSW Farmers for years, and was appointed Tamworth branch chair three years ago.
It’s a position he relishes.
“It’s putting our local voice across to the streets in Sydney and to bureaucrats,” he said.
“You don’t want them making decisions without any consultation.
“It’s to keep the agriculture industry thriving.
“(The industry) is huge, the money ag puts into the economy.”
Kevin says he has no any plans of retiring any time soon.
“While I can still work, I’m going to.”