In the words of a local journalist, Alix McFarland……
“When Theo Lazarides arrived on the Hay plains from the rolling hills of Kent in South East England, it was like nothing he had ever seen before.
Today, Theo is better acquainted to the wide open spaces, having lived and worked at local sheep station, ‘Mungadal’, for the past three months.
Theo is the second recipient of a unique award offered by the Mark Evison Foundation, an organisation set up in honour of its namesake who spent time working as a jackaroo at ‘Mungadal’ in 2002.
Mark went on to become a lieutenant in the British armed forces and died from a gunshot wound in 2009 whilst bravely serving in Afghanistan.
The foundation was established on pillars of courage, resilience, community and personal development and its Australian Outback Award offers young English adventurers the opportunity to experience life at ‘Mungadal’, just as Mark did.
When Theo’s teacher suggested he apply for the award, he jumped at the idea.
Six months later, when he set foot on the plains, he was no less than awestruck.
“It’s the flattest place I’ve ever been to,” he said.
In his own words, the 20 year old had “absolutely zero” experience in agriculture when he arrived at ‘Mungadal’.
“I’ve always had an interest in farming and wanted to experience it for myself,” he said.
“And the opportunity to travel and work at the same time was a huge bonus.
“I knew it would be remote and I feel so fortunate to have been able to see a piece of Australia others wouldn’t normally have the chance to see.”
Since arriving in May, Theo has seen plenty of Hay plains sunrises and sunsets, enjoying the early starts and big days in the great outdoors.
He has played a key role in helping out with mustering, lamb marking, classing and shearing sheep and drafting and processing cattle to name just a few tasks.
He wasted no time getting involved in the community and ran on for the Hay Cutters Rugby Union team on his first Saturday in Australia.
“I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every single day,” he said, paying tribute to the warm welcome and camaraderie he has enjoyed during his time in Hay.
“The people I work with have been amazing and everyone in the district is so welcoming.”
In a poignant twist, Theo has had the opportunity to work with one of Mark’s former jackarooing mates, Mick Flattery, who also worked at ‘Mungadal’ in 2002 and returned to the property as its assistant manager earlier this year.
Theo’s visit follows that of the award’s inaugural recipient, Elin Clapton, who lived and worked at ‘Mungadal’ in 2014.
Theo will return to England this week to commence studies in sport, exercise and physical activity at Durham University. Elin is in her second year of veterinary science studies at the University of London.”