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A gift of $4.7million - the residual estate of two farming brothers from Seymour - was presented to the Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Veterinary Science at the University of Melbourne today.

The gift will be used to establish an endowment for a new Chair in Cattle and Sheep Production Medicine in the Faculty of Veterinary Science.

The brothers - EMC "Cappur" Webb and RC "Dick" Webb served together for four years in the 2/4th Field Regiment during WWII, seeing action in the Western Desert campaign in North Africa, and in New Guinea.

After the war, they returned to Seymour where they each established highly successful grazing operations at Glendoxey (1,400 hectares) and Habbies Howe (4,250 hectares).

Between them the brothers built a flock of 11,000 fine Merino sheep and 1,000 head of Hereford cattle, prospering especially during the wool boom of 1950-53, when the price of wool famously reached "a pound a pound".

The brothers taught farming skills to many jackaroos and were known as tough, but fair, bosses.  Local identities in the Seymour area, Dick Webb later became President of the Graziers’ Association of Victoria and served as President of the Australian Club.

At the time of the Webb brothers’ deaths in the late 1970s bequests were made to the Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Seymour, Melbourne Legacy and the Bush Nursing Hospital in Yea, and two charitable trusts were established in their names. The brothers’ wills stipulated that funds from the two trusts be directed towards public education, good farming practice and management, rural and regional education, and rural and regional community projects.

The endowment to the University of Melbourne was negotiated by the Dean of Veterinary Science at Melbourne Professor Ken Hinchcliff, who presented to the Trustees of the Estates his vision for a program in Cattle and Sheep Production Medicine.

Professor Hinchcliff says that farming in developed countries today is a very scientific endeavour, with primary producers constantly seeking ways to improve upon animal health, welfare and biosecurity.

"Veterinary science has a huge part to play in ensuring the future of livestock production systems in south-eastern Australia and we at the University of Melbourne are committed to support of agricultural industries."

"Our role as veterinary scientists is to help maintain optimal health and wellbeing of farm animals through teaching, research and development, and direct care, with flow-on effects for graziers on quality and productivity. This gift allows the Faculty of Veterinary Science to consolidate and enhance an already outstanding program in cattle and sheep production medicine. Importantly, this program will provide additional opportunities for education of veterinarians for rural practice."