TIME TO RELAX: Sergeant Terry Kennedy, ex officer in charge of Imbil Police Station, had just one clean shirt left on retirement day.
TIME TO RELAX: Sergeant Terry Kennedy, ex officer in charge of Imbil Police Station, had just one clean shirt left on retirement day.

Imbil police sergeant retires after 43 years

HOW would you feel if you only had one shirt left?

If you're Terry Kennedy, you'd feel pretty good. You see, the Sergeant, who has served the Imbil community for the past 24 years, has been counting down his shirts for a while now - the less police shirts left, the fewer days he had to go before retirement.

Yesterday, Sgt Kennedy only had one shirt left, and he was wearing it - perfectly ironed and adorned with the sergeant's insignia on each shoulder.

At 3pm he signed off for the last time and walked into retirement.

It marks the end of a 43-year career. Now, that's a lot of shirts.

But Sgt Kennedy didn't always dream of being a police officer. In fact, the only reason he decided to join the academy in Oxley was because it meant he could complete Years 11 and 12.

Three years after donning his first ever blue shirt when he started at the academy on February 1, 1972, he was sworn in and has kept on wearing those shirts ever since.

While the shirts might have changed a little over the years - colours, size, insignia - they've been a representation of a thoroughly fulfilling life's work.

"I've enjoyed it," he said yesterday. It's been a good job.

"You actually can help people in this job."

Time and time again that notion has proved true for Sgt Kennedy, who only recently received an email from a police officer in Bundaberg, thanking the Sgt for "kicking" his backside so efficiently and so many times as a child that he too became a cop. That officer was the son of the owner of the Ilfracombe pub.

After serving at stations including Woodridge, Holland Park and Ilfracombe (27km east of Longreach) Sgt Kennedy, his wife Karen, whom he met at the academy, and their children Beth, now 28, and Jon, now 26, arrived at Imbil.

It was December 1991 and the family was greeted with cakes and tours of the region by locals.

The Kennedys' bond with the community has only strengthened through the years. Both Beth and Jon went on to be school captain of the then Imbil State School, and Terry was the man everyone knew they could rely on.

He recalled a day some years ago when a woman in her 80s came home to sadly find her husband dead. She called Gympie police station and requested one thing - Terry Kennedy.

"They said I was on a day off, and she said 'no, send Terry Kennedy'."

Sgt Kennedy's seen it all since putting down roots in Imbil, not surprising considering he was often a one-man band from a station of just two officers.

Road fatalities and even a plane crash at Kybong which meant camping in the mountains near the crash site overnight, has been thrown Sgt Kennedy's way.

Not all the memories are pretty but they didn't falter his dedication to the job.

But now the sergeant is looking forward to finally, after more than two decades, not being on call and "doing my own thing".

"When I first arrived people were asking me how long I was going to stay for. I said I'll stay here until I find something better, and I'm still here."

While he said he's ready to "potter around the house", it didn't take long to admit that by a minute past 3pm yesterday, he'd miss wearing his shirts.

Gympie Times


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