Our speaker on Tuesday 14th November, Richard Holdsworth was evacuated from south London at the start of the Second World War along with his mother and older sister. His father sent them off to auntie in the Berkshire countryside – our London house was bombed and father managed to wrangle a transfer from his bank in the City of London and became assistant manager in the local village branch.
They stayed on in the country – Richard first went to village school and then Wallingford Grammar. Never much of an academic, his father went to see the Principal as he reached 16 and asked of his future and on being told he was something of a dreamer, his Dad came home and announced, “You’ve always wanted to work on a farm, Son, well you start on Monday…”
After a year of practical experience, he went to Agricultural College and then worked on the best stud Beef Shorthorn herd in the country – two years later and at the stud sales in Perth, Scotland, a representative from Dalgety and Co asked him if he would consider taking a dozen stud cattle and horses to Australia on the deck of a cargo ship. “The downside – a one-way ticket. Find your own way home…” He sailed within three weeks and broke his mum’s heart!
He had the cattle in perfect condition after the 12,000-mile voyage and was offered several positions with stud herds in Australia and accepted the position as Stud Herdsmen with an up-and-coming herd in South Australia and brought out the Supreme and Reserve Champion at the 1960 Royal Adelaide show the following year – sweeping the board like that had never been done before. The owner dispensed with his services after the show – but a wonderful man by the name of Ron Stewart, Editor, took him on as staff writer with the Adelaide Stock & Station Journal. He covered all manner of farming subjects including cattle and sheep sales in the Outback.
After four years he was recruited by The Weekly Times in Melbourne where he met Heather, they married and sailed to the UK on a year long honeymoon – but instead of returning to Australia they started a Volkswagen camper manufacturing business which became one of the largest in Europe. That business now sold, they returned to Australia three years ago and are enjoying life Down Under once again!
His book, Six Spoons of Sugar, sees war through the eyes of a young lad – blackouts, rationing, being bombed on a shopping trip to the local market town with his mum and later, the American 101st Airborne arriving in their village and transforming life.
Now he lives a peaceful – if busy – life as a member of several writing groups and he pens articles for travel magazines here and in the UK and is an Australian correspondent for a couple of UK Porsche magazines: He raced a Porsche when he lived in South Australia in the 1960’s. He has also written the tale of his first eight years in Australia – In The Hot Seat and a book of short stories.
- KEEPING GIRLS IN CLASS—ONE PAD AT A TIME
Wed 19th Sep
Girls living in poverty in Africa often miss up to a week of school every month once they reach puberty because of their menstrual period. The reason for their absence from school is multifactorial and includes lack of appropriate sanitary products and cultural beliefs associated with menstruation. This absence severely affects their education as schools are seldom responsive to the situation and offer little or no opportunity for the young women to catch up the work they miss. Global School Partners (GSP) ran a trial Young Women’s Program in 2017 in three schools and an orphanage and the program reduced absenteeism due to menstruation by an average of 88%; it increased understanding of menstruation as a natural part of a women’s life and increased the self confidence and wellbeing of the young women involved. GSP have partnered with Pad Heaven who manufacture the washable sanitary pads and have developed the education and training program and resources. Pad Heaven is a Kenyan solution developed by a Kenyan entrepreneur for Kenyan women. The Rotary Club of Balwyn has provided funds towards this valuable initiative.
- Sustainable Communities Cambodia-Fish Farm
Fri 15th Jun
The Rotary Club of Balwyn provided funds to de-silt an ancient water storage in the Varin area of Cambodia, to allow stocking with fish, thus making it a commercial sustainable project. The proposed arrangements were discussed with community leaders in a meeting that lasted over two hours. They understood and agreed with the concept, but were concerned that theft of fish by locals was likely. They proposed a regime of night-time security patrols to overcome this problem. The proceeds from the sale of fish will be used to both pay down the community loan and be invested in the community for the benefit of the community.
- EAST TIMOR ROTARY LIAISON OFFICE
Wed 19th Sep
The Rotary Club of Balwyn has been involved in funding the East Timor Rotary Liaison office since 2003. Daryl Mills was the officer for 12 years. We recommended to Daryl that he needed to train some Locals to run the office for when he finished as the officer. Judite Martins and Mario de Jesus filled that role and have done a fantastic job for the past 18 months running the office. All Rotary (and other non-Rotary activities) Clubs involved with projects in Timor Leste (TL) utilise the Liaison Office (LO) to coordinate their activities. Containers & Shipments: The LO is responsible for accepting and then distributing the contents of containers that are sent to Timor Leste from Australia. In 2017 DIK in Melbourne sent 5 x 40 foot containers. ROMAC: This is a rotary project where sick children are sent to Australia for life saving surgery that could not be done in their country. The LO is responsible for coordinating all the ROMAC cases that go from TL to Australian and New Zealand hospitals. Humanitarian Projects: The LO does the local organisation for overseas groups (Rotary and non-Rotary) who undertake projects in TL. For example:
- Prof Jeremy Oats training for midwives at Health Centres in TL
- The Timor Leste Dental Program run by Dr Blanch Tsetong
- Being responsible for the Remexio Maternity Ambulance
- Student Sponsorship: The LO office engage in Fund raising to provide scholarships to enable financially disadvantaged students to continue their education