Grandchildren Evie, Alexis and Ebony (left to right) called Ian Baldwin “the bestest Poppy in the world”.
Grandchildren Evie, Alexis and Ebony (left to right) called Ian Baldwin “the bestest Poppy in the world”.

Our tears for 'Poppy'

IN a home that has two of everything, there was only ever one Ian Baldwin.

His heart belonged to his wife Michele, and he never missed a chance to tell the world how proud he was of his two kids, Matthew and Tegan.

But it was his three grandkids – Evie, Alexis and Ebony who adoringly referred to him as “the bestest Poppy in the world” – that were the real chink in Ian’s armour.

The rain held off in the overcast skies as more than 300 people filled the pews of St Patrick’s church on Friday to farewell the man that had touched their lives, and inspired them to live life to the fullest.

As Roy Orbison’s In Dreams played softly through the church, family and friends were still struggling to come to terms with their grief.

They were lost in the thought the man, whose contributions to his community still stand today, was gone from their lives.

“We all knew him as a nice guy, a good bloke who lived life to the fullest and enjoyed most moments,” friend and former colleague Col Dziewicki told the mourners in his touching testimony to Ian.

“What you saw is what you got,” he said.

Born in Swan Hill on November 11, 1955, Ian became a Queenslander when he moved to Mackay after finishing school.

In 1979, he met Michele, married her a year later and moved back to Victoria for Matthew’s birth.

FROM 1982 to 1989, the Baldwins lived in Alpha where Tegan was born and Ian first got involved with local government and became a volunteer firefighter.

But it was when he took a job with the Emerald Shire Council he met Col, who told the crowd of Ian’s approach to development.

“(We) bulldozed away any problem that got in our way,” Col said.

Ian left the council in 2000 but returned the following year.

Father Dan jumped at the chance to tell anyone how grateful the church was to Ian, who saved it from extensive damage following a fire outbreak.

But it was when the Olympic Torch made its historic way through town that the mourners really got a glimpse of the man who, although he always looked on the lighter side of life, took responsibility seriously.

“Ian was the site controller and of course, the event had to have the precision of a military operation,” Col recalled, to much laughter from the pews.

“Someone had decided they had the right to park in the no-go zone. Many words were exchanged… and the vehicle was moved.”

Col said Ian, who was left holding the prized torch, made sure it was safe and secure, “under the intense security of the dog”.

A man with a penchant for negotiating who did “a bit of wheeling and dealing”, Ian’s eBay purchases filled his home.

“Michele has two giant grandfather clocks sitting (in the lounge room),” Col said.

“Ian was bidding on them simultaneously, and you guessed it, he won both,” he said.

Never wrong, Ian would defend his position on anything, especially when it came to his family.

“He had a deep commitment to Michele, Matthew and Tegan, and was always proud to tell you about their achievements,” Col said as the crowd nodded their heads in agreement.

“But one chink in his armour was his grandchildren. They could do no wrong.

“They were simply the best in Ian’s eyes, and he always cherished his time with them.”

As Westlife’s melodic Too Hard to Say Goodbye played, a slideshow showed Ian’s life in pictures before Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven closed the service.

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