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There was reason for me to return to the family farm “Glenbrook” this weekend to spend time with my folks along with the broader Westcott clan spread around the Alectown district. I love returning to the farm and running around my old training benchmarks as a measure of my progress. This weekend was particularly wet which meant the trails were soft with a few puddles for extra agility training! Due to the conditions the ground was unsuitable for any significant agricultural exploits which worked in my favour in order to pull together my Westcott relatives for a family photo.

The Westcott’s are a proud family with our roots set firmly in the land surrounding Alectown, a district between Parkes and Peak Hill in the Central West of NSW. Joseph Westcott was one of the first settlers to the area in the late 1800’s and made his home at the original landholding called â€œBridgewater” which is now farmed by Alan Westcott. While farming practices have changed dramatically over the past 140 years the Westcott presence remains. It’s this sense of earthy belonging which I think helps to provide a foundation for generations of Westcott’s like me to spread our wings and take on the world outside the district. I take great inspiration from my relatives, both older and younger, in what they have achieved yet all are proud to be of Alectown. I remember attending my older cousin Brett Westcott’s graduation from the Australian Defence Force Academy and following his career to be a Commander in the Royal Australian Navy while Karen Westcott (now Barnett) smashed her HSC and became a physiotherapist which sounded incredibly impressive to me growing up. My slightly older cousin Grant Westcott, who I spent a lot of time with as a kid, seemed to take on study as a professional career but eventually emerged as an Emergency Medical Specialist. Of my own immediate family my sister Kate and husband Matt Knighton have taken to the life of missionary work to Africa following the passion set alight by uncle Harry Westcott who began as a farmer then became a Minister in the Uniting Church before starting his own Vision Ministries based at Mamre Farm, Alectown.

Of my younger relatives; Jessica Westcott has taken up a professional career in opera and currently works with Opera Australia while Jake Westcott has followed his dream to fly Super Hornets for the Royal Australian Air Force! These are just some of the amazing journeys that some of my relatives have embarked upon and I have only just scratched the surface.

While many of us have looked outside the district to follow our dreams the greater desire for many Westcott men and women is to stay here. To be a part of the Alectown, Parkes and Peak Hill communities either in new professions or ultimately as custodians of the land. People who farm the land are indeed a special breed and who are never short of a challenge, nor the solution to the said challenge. My Westcott relatives are some of the most innovative farmers around; Neil Westcott was one of the first to begin ‘direct drilling’, a form of planting seed with minimal disturbance to the soil. Similarly Alan Westcott has been at the forefront with the use of carbon cropping where by exhaust fumes from a farm plant (tractor) are buried into the soil with the seed at the time of planting thus removing the need for fertilizer. Meanwhile Ian, Peter and Jeff Westcott have created a mixed cropping and livestock production schedule that few can rival. Remarkably Jeff also has time and energy to take the field for the Parkes Boars Rugby team despite his 1975 vintage!

I am fortunate to be of a clan that excels in so many ways yet remains true to the most basic human need. While the weekend’s gathering to celebrate the success of my journey was humbling, I owe much of it to the example of determination and persistence  (with a pinch of stubbornness) exhibited through the years by my Westcott relatives.