Richard Holdsworth





Richard Holdsworth

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.

More News...
  • Sustainable Communities Cambodia-Fish Farm
    Sustainable Communities Cambodia-Fish Farm

    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.


    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


    The Rotary Club of Balwyn's Board has confirmed the Club’s funding contribution for the Jaipur Limb project in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). Like so many developing countries there are many people in DR Congo who suffer because of amputated or deformed limbs. The causes of this misery are many, but include birth defects, communicable diseases such as leprosy and polio, non-communicable diseases such as vascular disorders and diabetes, snake bites, traumatic injuries, natural disasters and armed conflict. With severe limitations as to what they can do, people disabled in this way become a burden to families, who already have very meagre resources, and are often condemned to spend their lives begging on the streets. The Goma Jaipur Limb project arose from a visit to the Club in 2014 by Tammy Shepherd. Tammy is a local physiotherapist who, for some years, has spent a couple of weeks a year, at her own cost, as a volunteer at the Heal Africa hospital in Goma. She was responsible for setting up a physiotherapy unit there and was keen to also set up a prosthetics unit, with a small workshop that could modify and fit artificial legs which are not available at affordable cost in DR Congo. Contact was made with Rotary Jaipur Limb (RJL), a UK based Rotary organisation now a charity. RJL is very experienced in this work using the Jaipur Limb—a basic, but robust and medically sound, prosthesis, fabricated from durable, high-quality plastic costing something like $50 each. Above-knee and below-knee versions are available. The prostheses are manufactured in bulk at locations in India and Uganda, but a local workshop is needed to modify them to suit each individual patient, fit them to the patient and further modify and adjust as needed. Local nurses will undergo a ten-week training course to enable them to do this work. The project has progressed slowly and the Goma Project Committee has devoted considerable effort over three years. Project funding is complex; the partners include Rotary Club of Balwyn, Rotary Club of Camberwell, Rotary Jaipur Limb, UK, Inner Wheel District 11, UK and Rotary Club of Goma-Nyiragongo, DR Congo. Efforts to secure funding via Global and District grants has been challenging but the committee is still hopeful of some success. Implementation of the project will depend on security in the region and logistical considerations. The Committee are to be congratulated for the extraordinary effort in progressing this project and addressing the complex legal and logistical hurdles. Rotary Jaipur Limb Project