'I could not have done it without my wife, Cheryl,' said Mick Cosgrove of the recent announcement of his Order of Australia Medal for service to the community of the Darling Downs, and to local government. He acknowledged he was completely surprised and humbled by the experience.
The Cosgroves live on a property in the close-knit rural community of Cooranga North near the pretty town of Bell, which is making a name for itself as a place of art and culture. Although they were originally dairy farmers, Mick and Cheryl later turned their skills to breeding Angus cattle.
A desire to emulate his father, who died at a young age and in tragic circumstances, led Mick to stand for election to Division 4 of the Wambo Shire in 1988. His father, Mick Cosgrove, held the position for four years from 1946.
The 24 years spent as a serving councillor were busy ones. Mick was Mayor for four years from 2004 to 2008 and, following the amalgamation which formed the local government area of Western Downs, he was appointed Deputy Mayor. He retired in 2012.
In addition to running the property, Mick and Cheryl raised four children who were usually not too keen to spend the weekends driving around the shire checking council roads. During these years Cheryl took a lead role in managing life on the property.
In 1988 the Wambo Shire Council was like a family with some workers being second and third generation employees. Over time there were many changes but the most significant, in Mick's opinion, were the introduction of computers and the sealing of roads with bitumen. Following an incident in which an Ambulance became lost during an emergency, Mick pushed for the introduction of property numbers on the country roads.
A strong driving force behind his commitment to service is the desire to create strong communities. 'Community is what you make it,' said Mick.
Both Mick and Cheryl work tirelessly for their communities and alongside his work as an elected representative, Mick held executive positions on many local committees. His proudest achievement is acting as the driving force behind the Bell Bunya Community Centre which was largely funded by council and opened in December 2012.
Run by volunteers this beautifully appointed $1.2 million building was six years in the planning. It houses the local library and boasts a cafe, an art gallery, workshop and computer rooms, consulting rooms and an information centre. The centre is complimented by a glorious memorial rose garden and a community vegetable garden. Bell is indeed fortunate to have such a facility.
Ruth Story, Secretary/Treasurer of the Bell Bunya Community Centre Committee, describes Mick Cosgrove as 'a great man for the district.' Mick and Cheryl's children, who point to their parents as wonderful role models, have themselves taken up volunteer work in their own communities.
Despite a lifetime of dedication to the community, Mick has no thoughts of retiring. In fact he is currently increasing his workload and on his 73rd birthday took possession of neighbouring land to increase his cattle breeding enterprise. Both he and Cheryl will continue their community work while also enjoying family time with their four children and 11 grandchildren. One of their great joys, now that they have more time together, is to see some of the shows at the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba and they hope that their next travel adventure will be to Tasmania.
Would he change anything? Mick sometimes wishes there had been time to learn to play bowls or golf.
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