Olya Willis answered The Forbes Phoenix knock at the front door. What a treat it was to be welcomed into their historic family home!
“Receiving the Order of Australia was a great honour, but receiving the Forbes Citizen of the Year Award means even more to me,” said Rob Willis of the new title he was bestowed with at the Australia Day ceremo- ny last Thursday.
“I have lived my whole life in Forbes and love the place and the people… it is my hometown.”
Rob said many people did not really know what he did for a living. It is an interesting and very unique occupation as Rob works
Citizen of the Year, Rob Willis with his wife Olya. “I want everyone to know that Olya is the backbone of my work.”
with the National Library of Australia to record stories. He and Olya have recorded more than 1,500 peoples’ stories.
“It astounds me how many people would ask why I was interested in their story before we start recording,” said Rob. Olya, who is responsible for recording the stories, adds that “Rob has the ability to get people to open up and tell their stories”.
Included in Rob’s collection are more than 100 stories of Forbes residents. These are all preserved at the National Library.
“Forbes allowed me to commence my journey to record Australian social history,” said Rob. “Do you know how prior to the thermometer the temperature of the iron or oven was deemed to be ok? Well it was by spitting on the iron or putting your hand in the oven… History will never repeat itself, so it is important to preserve it.”
True to his word Rob will soon be heading to the Forbes and District Historical Museum to record both the sound and workings of the historic Ivel tractor. (See story on page 7.)
If you are curious about history, make sure to visit the Museum at 11 Cross Street after 2pm each day where you can be tak- en back in time by hearing school bells ring and the clickity clack of a type writer.
By Dianne Collie