Farewell ‘Mother’: A touching tribute

Affectionately known as ‘Mother’, Boyle’s Livestock Transport matriarch Wendy Boyle was well known for her generosity and compassion.

After losing her long and courageous battle with brain cancer on June 19 at the age of 69, she was farewelled at a funeral service on the weekend.

The Boyle’s Livestock Transport fleet of 24 trucks, led by a 1980 model Atkinson restored by her husband and company founder Kelvin Boyle, joined the funeral procession on June 26.

They began at the company’s depot near Warrnambool and headed to the funeral home. Following the service, they followed the hearse back to the depot, where each of the drivers stood by their trucks, forming a guard on honour and paying their respects.

Her son Anthony Boyle, who has served as the company’s director for the past decade, said, “She would have been absolutely chuffed.”

Wendy had a profound impact on so many who knew her. She became a helping hand whenever it was needed, a shoulder to lean on and a friend to the many people who had the pleasure of working with her.

Wendy with her grandson Jefferson.

Known for her generosity and warmth, she was very involved in the community. She started a junior tennis club for Allansforest and would umpire and take kids to tennis matches every weekend. When her sons began playing footy, she joined the committee as secretary and then president. She was also a lifeline councillor for nearly 10 years.

Wendy was given the nickname Mother, and it’s not hard to see why – it didn’t take long to catch on either. Most of the drivers at Boyle’s called her Mother, and their kids knew her as Nan.

Kelvin started Boyle’s Transport in 1957, using his father’s Ford truck to transport livestock around Victoria’s western districts for local farmers. He eventually added a second truck, though it wasn’t until 1994, when their kids Anthony, Darren, Rodney and Wendy had grown up, that she joined her husband and helped to steer the business on a trajectory of great growth.

That was the same year that Anthony joined his parents as a driver. “They had three trucks by that time, then added another. When they purchased a local business, the fleet grew to eight trucks. I eventually took over more of the operations and Mum was in the office,” he said.

Boyle’s Livestock Transport predominantly services Victoria, South Australia and NSW, but also travels further afield as seasonal conditions require. It transports approximately 5000-6000 cattle, and 10,000 sheep and lambs each week.

Anthony attributes the company’s growth to the way his mother managed their staff. “She always treated them as part of the family. Even before her active role in the business she would always cook a meal or make the drivers a thermos of coffee, and as we grew up, we always had staff around the kitchen table joining us for a meal and sharing stories. Many of them probably spent more time around our kitchen table than their own. She even used to go out and help the drivers unload before we started to grow the business.

“She was the voice behind the scenes and she was doing that up until nine years ago when she got sick and was diagnosed with brain cancer,” Anthony added.

“Mum retired to try and get her health right. She was able to get back to looking after herself and the home, taking up pilates and joining the local swimming pool, where she made many friends. She had a few small trips, came with myself and my family to Fiji and would often visit my younger brother in Queensland.”

A huge Elvis fan and avid traveller, Wendy had the opportunity to visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland home. She travelled to Egypt, China, Vietnam, Italy, London and Africa too.

“Mum had six months of treatment and went into remission and did really well until about 18 months ago, when the cancer came back.”

Wendy will be fondly remembered for her contribution to her industry and for the generosity and warmth she showed to her family, friends, staff and customers.

The fleet formed a guard of honour.

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