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    PRECIOUS MEMORIES: Bob and Mavis Kirsopp celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary in 2022. They are pictured in Bob’s iconic mini-moke he had owned since 1976. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
  • Hero image
    PRECIOUS MEMORIES: Bob and Mavis Kirsopp celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary in 2022. They are pictured in Bob’s iconic mini-moke he had owned since 1976. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
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    Horsham icons Mavis and Bob Kirsopp in 2020.

Mavis Kirsopp legacy – ‘I did it my way’


Mavis Kirsopp grew up during a time when women were expected to be nurturing mothers, good housekeepers and supportive partners.

She excelled at all three, however refused to let others – or herself – limit her potential. Mavis lived by the credo, ‘I did it my way’, and she certainly did.

Mavis’s long list of community service achievements includes working with organisations such as Red Cross and the Australian Birthright Movement. She was a Justice of the Peace, a returning officer for the electoral commission, ran for a seat on Horsham council and became the region’s first civil marriage celebrant in 1979. 

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Her long-lasting impact on the region was celebrated at St Andrew’s Uniting Church on March 27. She died in Horsham on March 13, aged 89.

Mavis Joy Beanland was born in Footscray, Melbourne, on March 23, 1934, the first daughter of Allen George Beanland and Eva Elizabeth Dellar. 

Her father was a plumber-gasfitter and the family moved around often due to his employment. Mavis’s sister Jean was born in Ararat and eventually, the family settled at Warracknabeal. 


Mavis’s daughter Mandy Kirsopp said her mother lived in a time ‘many of us can barely imagine’. 

“She used slate boards and slate pencils instead of paper and pens, candles and gas for lighting, wood or gas for heating and cooking,” she said.

“In those years, a lot of time was spent on manual labour, but families learnt to live simply, to make do, to recycle, to share. 

“Communities were strong. Mum’s early years were formative and became values that she lived by and demonstrated every day of her life.”

One cannot reflect on the life of Mavis Kirsopp without highlighting the importance of her relationship with her husband, highly regarded former Horsham mayor and community champion Bob Kirsopp.

The pair met in February, 1954, at a ‘jam session’ at the Kirsopp shop in Natimuk, after Mavis spent the day at Natimuk Lake with a group of friends from Warracknabeal, including Bob’s brother, Ted.

“In mum’s words, ‘When we were ready to go home, Bob walked me to Ted’s car and told me, ‘I’m going to marry you one day’,” Mandy said.

“And mum’s thoughts were, ‘In your dreams’.”

Bob was right. That day was the beginning of a love affair that lasted nearly 69 years, until Bob died in 2023. 

Mavis and Bob married in November 1955, celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary in 2022. 

“They were the love of each other’s life and both separately told me so in the weeks before each other died,” Mandy said. 

After living on farms at Glen Isla and the base of Mt Arapiles – where they welcomed Mandy and her brother Glenn – the Kirsopps moved to their forever family home in Federation Avenue, Horsham, in 1960. 

“I have powerful memories of a simple life in those early years – of love, routine, playing inside and outside the house and of feeling safe with my brother and my parents,” Mandy said.

“We were well-loved. Family mattered.”


Horsham icons Mavis and Bob Kirsopp in 2020.


Mandy said when Glenn died in 2008, it was ‘the single greatest cause of pain and grief throughout mum and dad’s life together’.

“And what did they do? They supported each other and got on with things, faced life, smiled at people and extended their love to everyone around them – and importantly, accepted the love and care shown by others,” she said.

While delivering her mother’s eulogy, Mandy said she was reminded that, as individuals and as a community, ‘we are strong when we are part of something bigger than ourselves’.

Mavis spent 25 years volunteering for Birthright, founded in 1964 to provide support for single-parent families through friendship and advice. 

“This was a community-based volunteer group that focused on helping the children of families where there might have been domestic violence, single parenting or financial stress,” Mandy said.

“Mum worked with women and men to help diffuse conflict, helped find short-term accommodation for children, helped obtain money to provide food vouchers, seasonal pool passes and pay for school expenses and excursions.”

Many of the women Mavis met through Birthright wanted to remarry but were unable to do so under church law. 

Recognising the need for a civil celebrant in the region, Mavis approached several high-profile people to suggest they become one.

When they told her Horsham was far too conservative to accept a civil celebrant, Bob encouraged his wife to follow her dreams.

After lobbying then Attorney-General Peter Durack for months, Mavis became the region’s first civil marriage celebrant in 1979.

She officiated weddings, and later naming days and funerals, for 35 years.

“Mum was humbled by the responsibility and privilege of being welcomed into people’s lives as a celebrant,” Mandy said. 

“She understood the importance of life-changing events where commitments are made, the miracle of birth celebrated and the sadness of saying goodbye. 

“Mum was highly respected and greatly loved by many people who not only invited her into their lives for single events, but who returned to mum at other times in their lives.”

In 1985, Mavis was appointed a state returning officer for federal, state and local government elections, a position she maintained until the late 1990s. 

“It was great fun for mum,” she said. 

“She loved the responsibility, the pressure, the need for accuracy and integrity. 

“Her preparation and attention to detail meant that results were collated accurately and processed efficiently.”

Mandy said her mother’s attention to detail also enabled her to run a family home on a tight budget.

“It made it possible for mum and dad to start and grow a family business – Horsham Lawn Mower Centre – and for dad to pursue a range of hobbies and business pursuits, such as vintage cars, goats, a worm farm and so on,” she said.

Along with a decade as an electoral officer, Mavis was a Justice of the Peace for more than 20 years, from 1998.

A member of Red Cross since 1962, she also spent 20 years recruiting, training and rostering volunteers to run a weekly Blood Bank service. She received a long-service medal in 1982 and also volunteered for Meals on Wheels for many years. 

“In 2001, mum received a Victorian government certificate of appreciation for volunteer service to the community,” Mandy said.

“Mum did as much as dad for our community and made it possible for him to do the things he did. 

“The key difference between mum and dad was that mum was generally behind the scenes, making sure budgets balanced and planning was done, while dad was more visible in his actions.

“I am aware of the privileges I had because of my parents, their planning and sacrifices, and of my responsibilities to their legacy and importantly to mum’s friends and our community.

“I am so very proud to be my mother’s daughter. What a person she was and what a good life she lived.”

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