Although christened Cyril George, after his father and known by his family as Billie, it was whilst working at Angliss Meatworks in 1942 linking sausages to be canned for Australian soldiers off at war, that Billie Lilburne became affectionately known as “Bing”. At the time, a group of six ladies on the production line were happily chatting about the varied but universal appeal of Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra when they asked Billie who he liked best. His simple reply of “Bing of course” has stuck as his namesake ever since. Bing worked on the production line in that factory until joining the RAAF and again after the war when he returned from service in Borneo. He was promoted to foreman and then left in 1951 to become a Meat Inspector.
Bing has three daughters and his love and affection for them is obvious. With his charm and wit, its little wonder they look after him so well or that two of them coaxed him to live in Bendigo with his wife, their mother, after retirement.
Since then, he has been poached by the third daughter, who had been teaching overseas for the past 12 years, (she had missed him so much she felt it was her turn to spoil him!) and is currently living with her in Noosa, making him a long distance but no less enthusiastic member of the Forever Young choir.
“Moving to Bendigo was the best thing I ever did,” said Bing.
“It’s a lovely community and now that my wife has passed away the choir is a big part of that.
“I’m living in Noosa at the moment but am home here in Bendigo for 6 weeks so I’m practicing hard at choir and I will be back for the annual concert in September.
“I will have to take the music with me when I return to Noosa and practice up there,” he said.
Forever Young is the first choir that Bing has ever joined and he believes it has done so much for every single member. After losing his wife of 62 years Bing felt lost and alone but after being coaxed to join the Forever Young Choir he found a purpose again.
“The choir is full of such lovely people and good friends.
“One friend in the choir, Brenda, even came to Noosa for a week recently to look after me while my daughter was away. She walked my daughter’s dog every day.
“Laura, our choir Director, can only be described as a marvel and Marg Keech, “the roadie” who also organises morning tea each week is a treasure,” he said.
Bing has travelled extensively during his life including Borneo with the Australian Airforce during the war, visits to various parts of Asia and Europe on family holidays and then all over Victoria as a meat inspector and later, area supervisor for the meatworks, overseeing every meatworks facility in Victoria which he did for 50 years until retirement.
“I absolutely loved my job and did not want to retire but in those days, at 65 it was pretty much the end of your career.
“The choir is a joy to be a part of, keeping me active and engaged and I have my daughter, Amanda, who works at Girton Grammar, to thank for talking me into joining,” he said.
“I have had a great life with my darling wife, my three daughters, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. I now have the satisfaction of being spoilt by my doting daughters and the great joy and friendship of the Forever Young Choir!”