NEIL Studdert’s legacy in the community will live on for many years to come.
Australia Post’s longest serving worker and a local icon died on March 18 but, on Wednesday, the Muswellbrook Post Office unveiled a plaque – in front of his family, friends and former colleagues – dedicated to his memory on one of the outside walls of the building.
The man, labelled as “a thorough gentleman in every way, shape and form”, spent six decades delivering the mail in town rain, hail or shine.
“Today would have been Neil’s 79th birthday and, while I’m sure he’d be embarrassed by the recognition, what a present this is,” manager Jo Forder said.
“This is a proud moment for all of us.
“Neil started as a telegram boy at the age of 15 in 1954.
“And, during his time over a 60-year period, he often said that many things had changed.
“However, one thing that hadn’t was his love for his job.
“Neil was always a gentleman, polite and quietly spoken – he was also known to young and old alike.
“He was the type of person who built the reputation of Australia Post, too; dedicated and loyal.
“This plaque is a testament to his service to our community and commitment to his occupation.”
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said Mr Studdert was a well-respected Australia Post employee.
He added the petition and campaign to erect a plaque in his honour was “an important local tribute to a fine man”.
“Neil’s service as the longest serving employee was recognised by Australia Post in 2015,” Mr Johnsen said.
“But, I felt it important that the local Muswellbrook community also have a visible and permanent tribute.
“When I approached the Muswellbrook Post Office, and I launched the petition to recognise Neil, I received strong and immediate support from the wonderful staff at the post office, including Neil’s great-niece, Hannah Claydon, who works there.
“I believe our community is all the richer for the fact that every time someone comes to the post office they will see this plaque – and be reminded of Neil and his service to the local community.”
Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush said Mr Studdert was “widely admired”.
“At the time of Neil’s passing, the tributes from across the community were many and glowing,” he said.
“They remembered a man who was the consummate gentleman and one who was very much part of the fabric of our community and a figure in of our daily lives.
“He was described variously as a ‘legend’, ‘a lovely man’ and ‘beautiful’.
“Neil was our postie and, for 60 years, he served our community with Australia Post, earning recognition for his efforts and longevity of service but more importantly the respect of Muswellbrook.
“We may never meet his likes again but we will never forget him.”
Fittingly, at Mr Studdert’s funeral, the final song was Return to Sender.