Alumni award for local landmark efforts

Community stalwart: Russ Dickens has no plans to give up his work as a vet or Blacktown councillor.Picture: Gene RamirezVet, deputy mayor, Blacktown councillor and koala expert are some of the many terms to sum up Russ Dickens.

He received a community achievement award at the recent University of Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science Alumni Awards.

It’s recognition of his efforts to protect wildlife and almost five decades of service to western Sydney as a vet and local government representative.

Councillor Dickens said he was honoured and humbled to receive the award alongside his friend, TV vet Harry Cooper.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen,” he told the Sun.

‘To be put on a similar stage as Dr Cooper, what more could I want in life. I enjoy what I do. I wouldn’t work every day if I didn’t. I enjoy the satisfaction of helping animals and giving them a quality of life.”

Cr Dickens has lived in Blacktown for almost 50 years.

“I was born in Westmead, which was in the Blacktown shire at the time,” he said.

“When we moved here in 1964, Blacktown was a rural shire that consisted of dairy and poultry farms. A lot of my patients were cows and pigs.

“Today, it’s one of the biggest LGA’s in NSW.”

The deputy mayor has been a Blacktown councillor for 32 years

In the 1970s, he was one of the first veterinarians in Australia to study diseases of the koala systematically and provide advice on their clinical management.

He is a founding Australia Koala Foundation board member and helped set up the Australasian section of the Wildlife Disease Association.

“I love all wildlife. Koalas are Australian icons and not much work was being done in the early days,” Cr Dickens said.

He refused to reveal his age and says he’ll never retire.

“I look at it this way — if you’re 100 but think you’re 50, you’re 50,” he said.

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