News & Media

Peter Robbins OAM

  • Annie's Cottage
  • Peter Robbins OAM

By: CFA Media

Category: Honours & Awards, People

  12.47 PM 8 June, 2015

Location: General

Views: 1996

For 25 years, CFA member Peter Robbins has been running a farm-stay holiday home for the families of children with a life-threatening illness. 

It’s for this tireless community service that Peter has been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Annie’s Cottage is situated on the Lindenow South property Peter shares with his wife Judith, near Bairnsdale.

The cottage is let out to families for a week at a time, free of charge, through the children’s charity Very Special Kids.

It’s a welcome break from the medical procedures and financial pressures back home, and a place where kids can be kids, riding bikes and exploring the farm.

The couple’s ongoing hospitality and generosity has seen hundreds of families treated to a rural escape, with an average of 30 families coming through the doors each year.

“It’s rewarding because a lot of families are very grateful,” Peter said.

As a member of Meerlieu Fire Brigade for 58 years, Peter admits that at the age of 79, he’s “not too active” in the brigade these days.

He received a CFA Service Award after his 55th year of involvement.

But Peter dismisses his half-century of volunteerism as a natural progression of growing up in the country.

“I’ve lived here all my life. It’s just a natural thing - you become a member of the fire brigade. It wasn’t the slick operation it is now when I was first involved.”

That level of community spirit continues in the family. Peter’s son-in-law and grandson are both members of Meerlieu Fire Brigade.

But his firefighting instincts weren’t lost when, five years ago, Annie’s Cottage was destroyed by fire caused by a spark from an electrical fault.

“It was summer time and there were flames going 20 metres up into the air,” Peter said.

“During summer I’ve always got a firefighting outfit near the big water tank.

“We rushed outside, hooked the pump up, and managed to save a small building off to the side of the cottage – a playroom for the kids.

“When the house was burnt down we were insured, but there wasn’t enough money there to properly rebuild.

“We got to a stage where the house was almost completed but there was still work to be done outside and the inside needed fitting out.”

Then, unbeknown to the Robbins, Channel 9’s then television program Random Acts of Kindness stepped in.

“At the time we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and Very Special Kids invited us to Melbourne,” Peter recalled.

“They put us up in a hotel for three days under the pretence of our anniversary. Then when we turned up back home, all the work had been done!

“Someone said that there’d been around 40 people working on the cottage over the three days.

“On the day it reopened there were about 400 people there to celebrate.”

Peter said he was humbled to find out he had received the award, but in modest country style credits his better half for most of the work.

“I was quite surprised to be perfectly honest. I’ve been more or less the support area, whereas my wife has been the driving force. I’ve just chipped in where I could.”

His wife Judith has also been awarded the Order of Australia Medal.

Last Updated: 09 June 2015