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Remarkable life of Bruce Nicholls remembered

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By Colin MacGillivray

FORMER diplomat, businessman and author Bruce Nicholls has been remembered as a pillar of the Mitchell Shire community after dying last week at the age of 74.

Mr Nicholls, who grew up in Wollongong and rural Queensland and lived in Sydney for many years, moved to Victoria 22 years ago with his wife Annie, settling first at Glenaroua and then at the Carlsberg property in Kilmore.

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As a foreign trade commissioner with postings in India, Germany, Switzerland, China and Hong Kong, a president of the Australia-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry, chairman of the Royal Automobile Club of Australia and trustee of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Ms Nicholls said her late husband was a man who thought on a global scale.

“I always joked that he was the big-picture person and I had to fill in the gaps. That was our life together,” she said.

“He was a very funny man, a super intelligent person and incredibly passionate about public policy – that was his driver.”

Ms Nicholls said Mr Nicholls was able to bring his international expertise to bear on a local scale as a member of the Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell, a board member of Kilmore District Health, deputy chair of Bendigo Community Bank in Wallan and Kilmore, and chair of the Mitchell Business Network.

He also served as a director of Goulburn Valley Water, the Port of Melbourne and the Victorian Ports Corporation.

Ms Nicholls said no matter what role Mr Nicholls filled, he maintained a mantra of ‘local first’.

She said even as he approached death after being diagnosed with lung cancer five months ago, his attitude never wavered.

“Bruce was never a bettor, but from his hospital bed on Saturday [October 15] he decided we needed to have a bet on the Everest,” she said.

“He said we had to back Giga Kick because it was the only Victorian horse in the race. I put $5 on each way and some of [our son] Mike’s friends put a lot of money on. We all cleaned up because of this horse at 20-1 odds.

“It was signature Bruce. That’s how he approached his role as a trade commissioner – everything had to be Australian, and this horse was Victorian so we had to support the local.

“That’s what he did, and it paid off for all of us.”

Mr Nicholls – who has published several books, including the non-fiction political treatise The Plato Prophecy earlier this year – set down his memoirs after being diagnosed with cancer.

Ms Nicholls said his family was preparing to publish it.

She felt thankful Mr Nicholls’ family was able to surround him in his final days and that he lived a full life with no regrets.

“He knows he packed a lot into his 74 years. As his son Mike said, he left nothing out there,” she said.

“He was at home right up until the last few days when he went to hospital. He loved this community and he did so much for it.”

Mr Nicholls’ funeral was yesterday at St Patrick’s Church, Kilmore.

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