May 30, 2018 by admin
Father of the year: Romeo and Robert Biancofiore. Picture: Martina GemmolaROMEO Biancofiore never thought he’d see his name on the top of a list that includes Bob Hawke, Bert Newton, AFL legends and Olympians.
The humble retired welder says when it was announced that he’d won the Victorian Father of the Year award last Monday, he nearly fell off his chair.
Mr Biancofiore was selected from almost 2000 nominees.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “It wasn’t until my son Robert spoke about me that I realised what an impact I’d had.”
In nominating their father, Mr Biancofiore’s sons Robert, 27, and Anthony, 32, wrote that not only was their dad a “loyal, genuine and hardworking man”, he was their best mate.
“Every kid deserves a dad like him,” Robert said. “He’s been a constant in our lives. Most kids will usually say their hero is a celebrity … mine has always been my dad.”
After migrating to Melbourne with his Italian family when he was six, and with limited English, Mr Biancofiore struggled through school before joining the workforce aged 12.
As a widower, he worked three jobs at times to provide for his kids.
In his modest home in St Albans, the walls are covered with family photographs. A glory wall takes pride of place in the middle of the lounge room.
It’s a collage of old school photos, certificates and photos of the love of his life, Nella, who died of lung cancer in 2000. They had been married 21 years.
He admits becoming a single father was tough.
“Yeah, it was hard doing it on your own and dealing with the loss of your wife. There’s nobody to confide in or to reassure you,” he says.
“But my boys made it easier. We all got through it together. I always told them to be honest, to be a leader and not a follower.”
When he talks about his sons, his eyes twinkle.
“I reckon I already won top prize when my boys were born,” Mr Biancofiore said.
“I was the first one to hold them. I loved them … nothing’s changed since that moment.”
Mr Biancofiore now helps his sisters care for their elderly mother, who has dementia.
He also cared for his father, who had Parkinsons, cancer and dementia, before he died in 2009.
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