“THE people of South Gippsland are very good people, very resilient even in the toughest of times. Overall, they are very pro police and take pride in their police, which makes living in South Gippsland a better experience for everybody.”
That is the considered opinion of Leading Senior Constable Mal Heywood, and he should know. For the last 16 years he has worked as Officer in Charge at Toora police station, and for the vast majority of his 40 plus years in the Victoria Police his beat has been South Gippsland.
Now, however, S/C Heywood is stepping away from the career that he has loved. On August 3 he officially retires. A recruitment process is already underway to find a replacement for him at Toora, and on the evening of August 15 there will be a farewell dinner in his honour at Welshpool Hotel.
Malcolm Heywood joined the police force on August 3, 1970. He trained at the old St Kilda Road depot and then worked at Russell Street for a few months prior to going to Maidstone in the western suburbs of Melbourne.
S/C Heywood marks April 14, 1974 as one of the greatest days of his life. That was the day he started at Toora, at the time a two-officer station. (It is now a one-officer station, with a house for the police officer and a smart new station, constructed at the top of the town, beside the highway, only a few years ago.) It was a welcome return to South Gippsland for the young police officer, who grew up at Prom Road, ‘Black Swamp’ (as he insists on referring to the area) and went to Foster Primary School and then Foster High School, and he has always, he said, loved the lifestyle here.
He and his wife, Anne, have three children, all of whom were educated at the local high school and have gone on to marry and obtain degrees. There are now four grandchildren. “South Gippsland has been great to my family and me,” said S/C Heywood. As well as continuing his interest in photography, he is looking forward to travelling Australia with Anne, when she finishes work in October. The newly purchased caravan is at the ready.
After eight years at Toora, in August 1982 S/C Heywood transferred to Yarram police station, where he was based until September 1988. He then transferred to Foster, where he worked until a return to Toora in 1997.
“For those seeking a rewarding career the police force is a great place to be,” said S/C Heywood, recommending it as “a diverse organisation with many facets, and you can become highly trained in many different areas”.
The highlights for him have been “watching people grow up and change the way they live their lives, to become valued members of the community when perhaps they weren’t for some time”.
He has especially enjoyed visiting the local primary schools and observing the children grow from prep students to adulthood.
S/C Heywood paid tribute to the police he has worked with in his long career. “In my time, all the police I have worked with have offered their communities great value. They have all been hardworking, responsible police officers. Most recently, the police members at Foster have given me great support,” he said.
In the early days police duties included licence testing. This produced a few memorable moments…S/C Heywood recalled the time he said to a learner driver he was testing that he needed to go into the electrical store beside the pub, which shared the same veranda, and could he please pull up there. The young fellow turned up onto the footpath and took a pole out, only stopping just before the brick wall of the pub. “I walked back to the station. He didn’t get his licence,” noted S/C Heywood drily.
No doubt there will be lots more stories told at Mal Heywood’s farewell dinner on Thursday August 15. Anyone who would like to attend should ring Foster police station (ph. Brenda Jordan at the station on Monday, Wednesday or Friday on 5682 2407) to book a place. The charge of $35 per head will include a two-course meal (starting at 6pm) and presentation.