It is with great sadness I advise the passing of long-time member of the VAFWDC, Range Rover Club and formerly Land Rover Clubs. Neville was a past President of the VAFWDC and the Range Rover Club where he was a life member.
I introduced Neville to four-wheel driving and the world of Land Rovers in 1973 when he purchased a Series 2A Land Rover station wagon. After several years and many hard miles Neville looked for a bit more comfort and style and graduated to a 2 door Range Rover. Following this Neville joined the Range Rover Club Club in 1980 and was immediately impressed with the range of trips being run by club members and the care and attention to detail the trip leaders exhibited. With his wife Jenny and children Stephen and Kirsty, Neville took part in many memorable trips to the Victorian High Country and outback Australia. Trips led by Neville became legendary for the tracks he chose, the well planned campsites, and frequently the lateness of arrival at the campsite or getting back home. Neville’s trips were always full as members quickly learnt that they would see some amazing country and driving challenges.
As the pressure to close tracks and exclude 4WD’s from much of the High Country Neville realised that unless some strong action was taken there would be little opportunity for our recreation. The Association of 4WD Clubs was in its infancy and had yet to gain influence with land managers or the state government. Neville was tasked with chairing the VAFWDC general meetings and AGM in 1986 and in 1987 Neville was elected as VAFWDC President, serving in this role for 3 years.
Neville maintained a strong stance on the retention of 4wd opportunities and served on the Alpine Advisory Committee, and the Public Land Council where at its meetings Neville forged bonds with like-minded groups such as the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association and the Sporting Shooters who were also threated with exclusion from the newly formed Alpine National Park. Neville also enjoyed a strong and beneficial relationship with key land management staff including Gus Geary, Frank Noble and Rocky Barca. Aided by his large stature and eloquent manner of speech, Neville was a tireless campaigner for the track access we now enjoy. Throughout his term as VAFWDC President he continued his firm stand for continuing track access with politicians and senior land management agency staff, culminating in the agreement for limited club access to management vehicle only tracks.
Neville continued as an active club member for many years, become a driver training instructor in 1991 after completing the VAFWDC instructor training program and continued to run many popular club trips.
Sadly Neville was suffered the terrible disease Muscular Dystrophy, something he concealed and fought bravely against for many years. Over time its impact led to an early retirement and limitations on his four-wheel driving. Consigned to the passenger seat he was still able to enjoy his travels for a few years but eventually he became unable to cope with the bouncing and jolting and sadly no longer able to continue his much loved 4WD and camping pursuits.
The 4WD fraternity has lost long serving member, a friend to many, and a fearless advocate for our recreation. Neville is survived by his wife Jenny, son Stephen and family and daughter Kirsty and family and our sympathy goes to them for the loss of a husband, father, father in law and grandfather.
A Funeral Service to Celebrate the Life of Neville Lancelot Lester will be held at Heritage Pioneers Chapel, 1416 Healesville - Koo Wee Rup Road, Woori Yallock (near Selby Rd) on FRIDAY, (Sept. 22, 2017) at 11.00am. Additional parking will be available at the Woori Yallock Football Ground. A Private Family Burial. In lieu of flowers, donations to Muscular Dystrophy Australia would be appreciated. Envelopes will be available at the Service.