After loss, Curnow sons take over farm for father

Joshua ChiatCountryman
Tom Curnow on the family’s farm at Scaddan.
Camera IconTom Curnow on the family’s farm at Scaddan. Credit: The West Australian, Danella Bevis

More than two years on from the bushfires that took the lives of Scaddan farmer Kym “Freddy” Curnow and three farm workers from Europe, his son Tom is being recognised across the State for carrying on the family business in the face of adversity.

Tom and twin brother Riley were still in their final year of high school in November, 2015, when raging bushfires scorched 150,000ha of farmland and killed their father, forcing the teenagers to grow up quickly and take control of his 2800ha grain farm.

Riley has since moved to Perth to study agribusiness, leaving Tom to run the farm under the tutelage of Kym’s brothers Daren and Mic, achieving record tonnages as the Esperance zone enjoyed strong grain harvests in 2016 and 2017.

Tom, 20, was honoured for his achievements on Saturday night, winning the WAFarmers and Rural Bank Agriculture Award at the 2018 WA Young Achiever Awards ceremony in Perth. Mr Curnow said the loss of his father was still difficult to deal with, but he felt lucky to follow his dream at a young age.

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“We didn’t feel like we had to stay — we wanted to and I’ve continued on with it,” he said.

“In a way, it makes me want to pursue my dream in farming and I suppose it makes me want to really do well on the farm and keep it up to the way my old man would have done it.

“It’s still pretty raw but it’s slowly getting easier as time goes on.

“He’s definitely still around on the farm.”

Mr Curnow has also joined the local volunteer fire brigade.

WAFarmers chief executive Trent Kensett-Smith said Mr Curnow had made a big contribution to the wider farming community.

“Tom has done so much for his community and is an incredibly gracious, humble young man,” he said.

Esperance drone photographer and cinematographer Jaimen Hudson, 27, who was left quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair after a motorcycle accident in 2008, won the online achievement award for driving tourism to the port town through his work, which has been viewed more than 250 million times on social media.

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