James Georgopoulos was a young and innovative farmer from Shepparton who dreamed of shaking up the industry.
In 2014, he began working with a nursery to create a pear unique in flavour and colour.
"He knew as a young farmer when he first came on board, we had to rejuvenate the pear industry,” said James' father, Chris Georgopoulos.
It was an exciting time that also included the announcement of James’ first child – a daughter named Sienna.
But not everything that happened for James that year was good.
While on holiday he began to experience pain in his side – and he knew something was not quite right.
Just a short time later he was diagnosed with stage IV young-onset bowel cancer.
He was just 23 years old.
Determined to see his vision become a reality, James continued to work with nurseries until his passing in 2016.
His brother Travis helped to finish the project which led to the development of a unique, red velvet-coloured pear.
Named in tribute to both James' daughter and his work in developing the variety, the Red Sienna Pride pear has become James’ legacy to his Shepparton-based family.
The first commercial crop was harvested last year, and the family is now looking at increasing that production for the next two or three years, with planting underway of 150,000 trees for the upcoming season.
James’ memory lives on in other significant ways too.
In 2016, the Georgopoulos family began working with the Biggest Ever Blokes’ Lunch (BEBL) Committee to expand the lunch’s mission so that it included raising awareness and funds in support of bowel cancer.
The generosity of the Georgopoulos family, along with support from Bowel Cancer Australia and Goulburn Valley Health, has led to a full-time specialist bowel care nurse in the Shepparton region.
The family hopes their work with the BEBL Team will lead to increased vigilance among men of all ages when it comes to bowel health and will raise awareness that bowel cancer can strike at any age.
Bowel Cancer Australia is grateful for the generosity and ongoing support of the Georgopoulos family and for GV Independent Packers fundraising efforts during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Together, we’re making real change happen.