25 September 2012 - A Thanksgiving Service to celebrate the life of former colourful Bendigo harness racing identity Len “Curly” Orwin will be held today.
Orwin passed away peacefully at St Laurence Court California Gully, aged 93 years. His death notice in the paper aptly said “In true ‘Curly style’, not until he had decided to.” During his long harness racing career Curly Orwin was regarded as a great participant and a tough competitor who just kept on keeping on. Amazingly the Bendigo horseman had his final race drive just seven years ago and in 2003 at the age of 84 years was officially recognised as the oldest harness racing driver in the world when he drove first starter Marion in a race at Bendigo.
Orwin’s last drive was in the Veterans of the Sulky Clash at Ballarat in 2005, he was chasing his first success in three decades aboard Rowan Sue, a mare he also trained. From the age of 16, Orwin enjoyed a colourful training and driving career.
After driving his first winner in 1937, Orwin's golden era was in the 1960's and 70's. His racing silks of green with a white shamrock were regularly in the winners’ circle at the Melbourne Showgrounds and throughout regional Victoria. He continued to enjoy some success in the 1980's winning 22 times and being placed 38 times from 187 starts between 1980 and 1990. Born in Bendigo on 11 March 1919, Orwin was a local identity who sported diamonds embedded in his front teeth and gold in several of his other teeth. Until the age of 70, he worked as a truckie delivering beer to the local watering holes in the Bendigo district and kept fit undertaking regular weights sessions.
The Thanksgiving Service will be held at Napier Park Chapel, 420 Napier St Bendigo, (25 September) at 1:30pm. – David Aldred