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If you have any suggestions for interesting guest speakers for our meetings, please contact Maria Z., our Guest Speaker Office.


Our GETTING TO KNOW YOU SEGMENT also continues and it is stories written by members about themselves/family and is published in our Newsletter.

Members look forward to the next story every month.


* November

Our monthly Newsletter continues to surprise and delight us with stories and photos of member events.

We look forward to having our first face-to-face meeting post lockdown and welcoming our guest speaker:  David Short from the Royal Flying Doctor Service


24/12/21 – Christmas break

28/01/22 – Arthur Pearce – River boats of the Murray-Darling

25/02/22 – Martha Jabour – Grace’s Place


* October

Our monthly Newsletter has been filled with stories and contributions by members and it has been well received.

The October meeting will not go ahead, but the November meeting will, and we look forward to welcoming our guest speaker: David Short from the Royal Flying Doctor Service


* Report for September

As we continue to be in lockdown and preparing ourselves to live with COVID, we have been forced to cancel our face to face meetings.

Fortunately, all our scheduled guest speakers have been re-booked for next year.

In the meantime, we have continued with our member’s stories.  These are published in our monthly Newsletter.

Always remaining hopeful, for November we have David Short from the Royal Flying Doctor Service.


* Report for August

As we continue with the current lockdown, and the uncertainty that it brings, each month our planned guest speaker is being re-booked for a later time.

The August guest speaker, Martha Jabour of Grace's Place has now been booked for February 2022.

The September guest speaker is Hilary Kuwahata presenting an Arm Chair Travel of WA




Past Guest Speakers 

* June 2021 Peter Gorringe - Demystifying Crypto Currency

* May 2021 – Speaker: Bernard Hannelly Topic: Stroke Safe Presentation

Stroke is one of our nation’s biggest killers and leading cause of disability.  Globally, one in four people will have a stroke in their lifetime, and the impact is often devastating.  Stroke can happen to anyone, at any time – changing lives in an instant.  Would you know how to recognise the signs of stroke?

Bernie was a very compelling speaker, having had personal experience with stroke.  He guided us through the four ways to recognise stroke.

F   Face – has their face drooped?

A   Arms – can they lift both arms?

S   Speech – is their speech slurred and do they understand you?

T   Time – Call 000 time is critical

The important message is to act FAST and call 000

* April 2021 – Speaker: Michael Beashel Topic: Greenway Convict Architect

Michael Beashel is a Best Selling Australian Historical Fiction Writer. 

Francis Howard Greenway was an English-born architect who was transported to Australia as a convict for the crime of forgery.  In New South Wales he worked for the governor Lachlan Macquarie as Australia’s first architect.

Greenway had an abrasive manner and his criticism was devastating. The builders had to make costly alterations to the building and Greenway made the first of a long list of enemies who were to make his life difficult thereafter. Greenway had been given a ticket-of-leave and during 1815 he occasionally advised the government on its public works.

Michael Beashel’s presentation was very interesting and it demonstrated his immense knowledge of early Australian history.

 * February 2021 – Speaker: Belinda Elgar Topic: Health benefits of Tai Chi

Belinda has been practicing Tai Chi for more than 20 years and has been teaching for the last 8 years.

She became hooked after noticing the profound effect it had on her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, symptoms that all but controlled her life.

After training with a Master and help from a Naturopath, she ceased taking all the medications health professionals had advised she would be taking for the rest of her life.

Belinda conducted a seated Tai Chi session which all the members present at the meeting joined in and she followed by a demonstration of her own Tai Chi skills.

 * January 2021 – Speaker: Roger Brant Topic: Narratives of The Rocks

Roger Brant is very passionate about history, not only of Sydney, but all of Australia.

For the past 16 years (pre-COVID) he has been lecturing and teaching to international students at a private college.  In conjunction with Sydney Social Science subjects, students were taught Australian history.  The program aimed to give students an inkling of the Australian way.

The Rocks was given its name the members of the First Fleet, who, on 26 January, 1788, were landed on the rocky peninsula on the western side of Sydney Cove. This was the site of the first convict encampment, military camp, bakehouse and hospital.

Roger’s talk was very well received by members.

  *February 2020 - Hans Kunnen - His 9/11 Experience.

For Hans Kunnen, the last day of the economics conference he was attending, began as a very normal New York September day. He was at a breakfast meeting in his hotel when the first plane hit the first of the World Trade Centre Towers. That's when his personal nightmare began.

Hans told us what it felt like, hearing the thud  like an explosion, hearing people screaming, watching them flee the room as chandeliers, lights and tables shook. At that stage Hans was not thinking it was a terrorist attack. He had forgotten about the terrorist attack on the WTC in the 1990s. It was not until he went outside that he began to take in the horror of what was happening.

That was also when he saw the second plane slam into the South Tower.

Hans' emotions are still very raw every time he tells his story, but he says it helps him heal. He was not allowed to go back up to his room to get his belongings - a good thing as the hotel was partially crushed by the WTC tower falling. Hans decided to try to get to Staten Island, knock on a church door and ask for help. However, on the ferry, Hans met a lady called Leslie Castelucci DeFreitas, who offered to put him up with her family.

At her home he was able to finally contact his wife Suzanne in Sydney. Leslie and her husband Rod gave Hans a home for several days, fed and clothed him and helped in many ways. This was an act of such kindness and love that it cemented a friendship between Hans' family and Leslie's. The families have met several times over the years and remain in contact.

To quote Hans...   ”Sometimes bad things happen. How we respond and how we find our feet again varies from person to person. On 11th September 2001, I found myself at the World Trade Centre caught up in a series events that changed the world. I saw the horrific loss of life, amazing acts of bravery and gracious acts of kindness. I am not the hero of my story. That role belongs to others who, in my time of distress and in a time of chaos, held out their hands in care and concern"

To read more about Hans, you can Google " An Interview with Hans Kunnen, WTC 3 Survivor, Eyewitness to Second WTC Plane

Hans Kunnen - Crusaders Business Breakfast 2012

Yolanda (Guest Speaker Officer)

*January 2020 - Pam Wilson - Hills District Historical Society

Yolanda did all the organising, Barry S welcomed the speaker and helped her to our meeting, Peter R did the gracious introductions and now Barbara is writing up the report. A typical event in our Rouse Hill Probus Club where we all work together for a great outcome.

Could there be a better way to celebrate Australia Day than to hear historian Pam Wilson talk about our local history? As the Hills District Historical Society Inc says in their newsletter, “A Community which does not know its history, is like a man who has lost his memory.”

We saw slides of remaining and often hidden history of the original inhabitants of this area with a grinding stone site near Caddes Creek, shell middens and a quarry where arrow heads were made and traded. The colonists brought a convict revolt at Vinegar Hill, Hawkesbury Road which became Windsor Road, land grants galore and many, many pubs including The White Hart Inn which was bought by Hugh Kelly thus the name of Kellyville.

Of special interest to our club was the story of Dr Rex Money, a Sydney neurosurgeon who wanted a country retreat. In 1947 he purchased Aberdoon House which was the perfect hobby farm for him and his visiting friends. This property is now owned by The Hills Council and our Rouse Hill Probus meeting room is named the Rex Money room so now we know why!

Pam kindly answered questions and talked with interested club members following her presentation.

*November 2019 - A BIG THANK YOU

At our November 2019 meeting we were wonderfully entertained by members of our club.

A very big thank you to Wendy G, Pat H, and The Christmas Hams (Barbara F, Peter V, Dieter R and Brian L). They made us think, they made us laugh, they made us sing and even made some of us dance. They made our last meeting for the year jolly, happy and Christmassy.

* October 2019 - Kevin Robinson - Wings4Kidz

Kevin sent me a lovely email, which I think club members will enjoy and he also sent the text of an article from the Spectrum, which sums up his presentation beautifully.

Hi Yolanda,

Please thank everyone for the opportunity I really enjoyed the day. I’m sorry I had to race off but I had a flight on and didn’t have much time to spare.

I have attached photos and a couple of articles which you can draw from for your newsletter. I have copied the attached into text as per below:-

On another note you someone in your group might know someone that can help us. At the moment we use our private vehicles for the transport from the hospital to the airport but we have a number of volunteers that want to help but they don’t have a suitable vehicle. What we need to do is source a specific vehicle that we can make available for our volunteers to do these very important drives which is an extremely important part of the families journey.

If we are able to find a supporter for this we would brand the vehicle as “Proudly Supported by:-“ and our logo’s. The vehicle needs to be:-Automatic and white. Ideally 7 seater (Kluger/CX9/Tarago or any similar SUV or Van type)

If you are able to put something into your newsletter someone might know a company or have a car dealership contact that is able to support us. We would also consider buying if it’s a good deal but ideally we want to keep as much funding for flights as possible.

Thanks for your help and please let me know if you need additional information

Kind Regards Kevin.

Spectrum Article

Kevin Robinson had always supported charities through his management consultancy business. But in 2010–11 he found himself wanting to do something more directly.

“I was never happy with the cost going out for administration. I wanted my dollars to go just towards the cause,” Kevin recalls. So Kevin approached the Children’s Hospital at Westmead about doing something to support them directly through his business. “They told me about these kids with serious cancers who needed ongoing treatment and how some children from regional areas in New South Wales struggle to get to hospital for scheduled appointments.”

Kevin offered to do a few flights per week to help. But two flights a week turned into three and then four! “It was great,” says Kevin. “I felt that I had purpose and it was meaningful. My business became less important.” So much so, Kevin decided to sell his business and provide a flight service for children with serious or life-threatening illness full-time. “It was just such an inspiring thing – and reality check – to help these kids and their families.” Wings4Kidz was born.

Wings4Kidz is a not-for-profit organisation funded solely by sponsorship and Kevin says their success comes from forming aviation partnerships with companies they can trust. “There are aircraft used for commercial purposes but when they’re not flying the pilots are being paid for the day just to sit around. Their time is available, so on the days they’re not flying we use their planes and pilots.

“They support what we do and we cover their operation costs for the day: their fuel, aircraft maintenance and so on. By doing this it means we can build a sustainable operation quicker and spread the word to get more involved. And these pilots, once they see the kids we’re helping, they are so happy to volunteer their time.” Transporting children to major cities by air is only one part of the journey, however. They also need transport from the airport to the medical facility.

Wings4Kidz provide a ground transport service to meet this need. Finding quality drivers though, can be difficult. Kevin explains: “The drive from the airport to the hospital is the dangerous part. I need volunteer drivers and they’re not easy to find. They have to be very professional and empathetic towards the kids and their families. For example, you can’t say ‘how is Johnny going today’ because it may be that this is the trip when Johnny isn’t coming home again – they have to be very sensitive.”

Wings4Kidz do not undertake aero-medical trips because children with leukaemia or a brain tumour will typically be flown in by air ambulance to undergo surgery. It’s after the initial treatment that Kevin and his crew step in – some patients have ongoing treatment for 6–24 months depending on their situation, and because they are outpatients they don’t qualify for air ambulance support. “This is when families are forced to drive or catch trains and buses.

Can you imagine ill kids, who have weekly chemo treatments, travelling 8–12 hours each way,” Kevin says. “For a really sick child it is so hard and very stressful for the parents too. Families can become so affected by their child’s illness and the burden and effect of long distance travel that they separate. If we can turn a long trip into a one-hour flight, look after everything for them and get them back home the same day, it makes a huge difference.”

And what of the challenges working in rural and remote locations? “I’ve done 1300 flights myself and I’ve never had an issue. It’s well planned and managed and we know where were going; it’s pretty smooth. We get great support from regional areas,” Kevin explains. Looking to the future Kevin says there is an opportunity to expand, and that the need is there. “Currently we only transport children from birth to 16 years, but longer term I’d like to expand that to help 18–20 year old’s as well.

“We’re also looking at the family unit because there are mums and dads who need to travel for advanced specialist care and treatment. And farmers, especially the men, as they don’t come down to Sydney for treatment because they can’t afford the time or the money so they just don’t do it.”


* September 2019  Deb Wallace

Detective Supt Commander, Deborah Wallace Criminal Groups and Strike Force Raptor entered the room in a deep pink pantsuit and killer heels and immediately owned the room. With a twinkle in her eye she said she walked into the room and made an assessment of the group - good or bad. Years of training as a detective! Deb concluded we looked like a young group and got a big laugh and much applause.

Deb shared with us some contemporary information about youth, drugs and bikies and busted some of the myths about bikies. She told us about methods used to bust up the gangs, taking away the "glamour" of being a bikie or joining a bikie gang. She gave us a bit of background into her own upbringing and early life. Hers was not a privileged youth, her parents had a two bedroom fibro house in Westmead and worked hard.

Over many years Deb accumulated knowledge, both as a private citizen and as a trained cop which has helped and continues to help her fight crime and drugs. She told us we have all accumulated knowledge, which is sometimes discounted by the young, thinking "what would they know, they are too old". But we still have much to give.

Deb talked about the scourge of drugs. In 2000 the biggest drug danger was Heroin, which is a natural product derived from poppies. Now it is MDMA, Ecstasy and ICE which are artificial chemical drugs and extremely dangerous. She talked about some of her experiences in Cabramatta with the drug pushers, territorial wars, murder and arrests.

Despite the seriousness of her topics, Deb delivered her talk with intelligence and a lot of humour. She interspersed the serious with funny anecdotes and her own life experiences. There were quite a few questions from members before Deb was thanked for her great talk and received resounding applause.

Yolanda (Guest Speaker Officer)

* August 2019 Lee Hayter from Taronga Zoo

 What an interesting talk we had this month from Lee Hayter, who has worked in various guises at the Taronga Conservation Society Zoo for seventeen years. We enjoyed slides about Australia's first zoo at Moore Park but with fire, flood and pestilence taking it's toll, it was decided to find a new site for the zoo in the early 1900's. With an existing ferry wharf already constructed plus tram lines, Mosman provided the winning location and the Taronga Zoo that we all know and love began.

 Lee tested our trivia knowledge by showing us some famous visitors to the zoo over the years and we were able to guess some of the names like: David Attenborough, Hazel Hawke, Prince Harry and Jane Goodall. Some were more obscure! Peole also recalled rides on Jessie the elephant who was a zoo favourite for many years.

 Modern Taronga is a far cry from the days of chimpanzees having afternoon tea for people's amusement and the focus now is on animal welfare and conservation as opposed to entertainment. Animals have private areas for retreat and only come out on public view if they choose to do so. Animals facing extinction are living at the zoo and there is a successful breeding program too.

 Lee closed by telling us about modern additions such as the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo, Glamping overnight stays at Dubbo,Vivid, Taronga's Roar and Snore overnight stays and a new hotel is being built there for longer stays to watch the animals in a natural environment. It really makes us want to go and visit again and support this wonderful place!

 Club members had many questions which Lee happily answered and she finished with a message that is dear to her heart. Please don't feed any animals living in the wild!!!! That includes the wild animals that come into your backyards.

 Another fabulous talk and thank you to Yolanda for her top notch organising  and to Frances helping with the introduction. Our club members always pitch in when required and the spirit of cooperation we have makes for a happy club.

* June 2019 - Joanne & Garry Ratcliff -Cruising through life one port at a time! 

We started cruising together since 2009 and we haven’t stopped since…. 

With our number of cruise days totalling nearly 2 years we have: Cruised Around the World 2 ¾ times, South Pacific & New Zealand, Around South America, The Baltics, South Africa, And circled the Pacific Rim. A lot of people screw up their noses when we tell them what we have done. “All those days at sea”, “only in that port for one day” ……. But our world cruises have taken us to places we would never get to if on a land trip. 

We have walked with Komodo Dragons, swum in the dead sea, rode a camel across a zebra crossing in Aqaba, drove the mountains of Montenegro and ate fresh crab in Honningsvag……. And that was just one trip. As Captain once said to us, “We should think of our cruise as a snapshot of the world and to pick our favourite place to which we could return” …. Well that didn’t work because we just wanted to return to all of them. 

We love long cruising, you could classify us as Long Cruise Junkies, 'cause if you are bitten by the bug, you can’t resist, and we are not the only ones. On each long cruise we go on, we see so many familiar faces. Actually, it has a bit of a family reunion feel to it. To supplement our addiction, whilst we are not on a ship Garry and I work down at the Overseas passenger Terminal during in the summer months. Basically, disembarking everyone off the ship in the morning, then checking in the new guests for the next voyage. We mainly deal with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Norwegian. 

We don’t think of ourselves as experts, just experienced in the way we like to cruise. 

For more information, go to the Club website – Guest Speaker page. 

Joanne and Garry  

* May 2019 – Silver Chain.

At our May club meeting two wonderful ladies, Caroline and Allison, gave us a very informative presentation about the services Silver Chain provides to the community. Silver Chain is a not-for-profit organisation delivering community health and care services across Australia. These include specialist nursing, end-of-life (palliative) care, hospital in the home and many other services to help people have a choice of how and where they want to live in the community. All their services are provided free and most of the equipment they provide is also free (with government support). 

End-of-life is not an easy subject to discuss, or to deal with, but Caroline and Allison (who are both nurses), dealt with the subject in a very dignified and reassuring manner. They illustrated the care and compassion Silver Chain provides for people with stories from their own experiences. 

Caroline and Allison talked about some of the people they have helped over the years, the support they have been able to give their patients and also their families. These dedicated nurses demonstrated a great love of their work and the people they help, skills not just in nursing, but also dealing with all sorts of people and sensitive issues with compassion and empathy. 

Allison also told us about one of the nurses who used to be a midwife, now she works in palliative care because she wants to "make the sunset as good as the sunrise". 

Our members asked many questions of our speakers and including challenging issues implicit in several very important topics. 

Christine K gave an excellent appreciation on behalf of our club, as Silver Chain has been looking after Malcolm in their own home for many months and he and Chris cannot speak highly enough of loving care they have been given. 

How to contact Silver Chain in NSW Tel: 1300 758 566. The contact centre operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the central point for information. 

Yolanda (Guest Speaker Officer) 

*April 2019 – A valued member of our Club, Brian Lewis. - the Conception, Birth and Early Childhood of Westmead Hospital.

Brian grew up in Northmead and went to Parramatta High School.

He is of course married to Chris and they have 5 children and 19 grandchildren.

Brian has a degree in Health Administration from the University of NSW and is a qualified accountant, although he has always felt that he was never destined to be an accountant as he believes that near enough is good enough.

After short career in the Public Trustee Office and the Department of Child and Social Welfare, he joined the NSW Health Service and worked at Sydney, Balmain, Blacktown and Westmead Hospitals.

Later Brian was Chief Executive Officer of Illawarra Area Health Service and of the NSW Ambulance Service.

*February 2019 Meeting – Rosslyn and Richard Bushell.

Topic - Riding our motorcycle around Australia

Rosslyn and Richard Bushell live at Castle Hill and are members of the Probus Club of Oakhill-Dural. One of their retirement hobbies is going for long touring holidays on their motorcycle. They have ridden over 100,000 Kilometres together over the past ten years, mostly around Australia although they have also undertaken one overseas tour around Tuscany in Italy.

In 2013 they took off on a three month tour to circumnavigate Australia on their motorbike.

At our February meeting they shared their experience of this tour with us.  

*November 2108 - Faye Yarroll, accompanied by her Hearing Dog Sydney.  

Faye was born in Australia in 1958 with a hereditary hearing loss and grew up using two hearing aids. Her siblings, parents and grandparents are all hearing impaired. As a teenager she spent 5 years learning the skill of lip-reading through Better Hearing Australia. 

This improved Faye's communication greatly and allowed her to develop what many have called a remarkable memory. It also enabled her to watch and understand conversations from a distance. Traveling to and from work on public transport was sometimes very interesting.

Faye spoke about Cochlear Implants and what an amazing difference they have made to her quality of life. Faye's only regret in life was that she had to wait so long to hear.

Faye introduced us to her hearing dog Sydney and both explained and demonstrated how important and clever this little dog is and her importance in Faye's day to day life.


 They say I'm deaf, These folks who call me friend. They do not comprehend.

 They say I'm deaf, And look on me as queer, Because I cannot hear.

They say I'm deaf, I, who hear all day My throbbing heart at play,

The song the sunset sings, The joy of pretty things,

The smiles that greet my eye' Two lovers passing by.

A brook, a tree, a bird: Who says I have not heard?

Aye, tho' it must seem odd, At night I oft hear God.

So many kinds I get Of happy songs, and yet They say I'm deaf.

  *October 2018 Deb Hunt

Our guest speaker Deb Hunt at the 26th October meeting was very interesting, entertaining and informative and very well received by the members. We enjoyed her talk very much. 

Deb has worked as an actor, writer and journalist in the UK and in Australia. She has lived in 40 different places around the world, but by her own admission none was more interesting or welcoming than Broken Hill, where her memoir Love in the Outback is set. 

After giving up on ever finding love, just before her fiftieth birthday Deb encountered a man in the RFDS who became the love of her life.

Extract from Deb's email to me after the meeting – "…thank you again for inviting me to speak to your Probus Club, what a lovely group you are. I could feel the warmth when I was speaking and I don't think I've ever had such a positive response!"

Deb Hunt was born in England, where she worked as a librarian, event manager, PR executive, actress and journalist. She has worked with Shakespeare in the Park in London, Australian House & Garden magazine in Sydney and for five years as a writer with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has lived in France, Spain, Saudi Arabia, London, Broken Hill and a small village in Gloucestershire. In 2013 she self-published her first book, Dream Wheeler, which led to a commission from Pan Macmillan for two more books. Love in the Outback published by Pan Macmillan on 22 April 2014, followed by a book on farming families.   

* Past Guest Speakers Chronology

 Hans Kunnen - 9/11

Pam Wilson - history of our area.

Peter Kirkwood. Playing the Didgeroo

Ros and Richard Bushell. Their Motorbike Adventures. 

Brian Lewis, and his topic was “The conception, birth and early childhood of Westmead Hospital”

Silverchain Palliative Services

Joanne & Garry Ratcliff - Cruising through life one port at a time!

David Rosenberg - Pine Gap

Leanne Hayter about Taronga Zoo – Not all about the animals.

Detective Supt Deborah Wallace, Commander Criminal Groups and Strike Force Raptor

Kevin Robinson - Wings 4 Kidz

Peter Gorringe, spoke on "The Lesser Known Tudors"

Mike Morgan, surveyor about his time on the expedition to Enderby Island in Antarctica

Barry Seach, about how Blacktown got its name, the talk coinciding with NAIDOC week.

Noel Phelan, Maritime Museum, about the Japanese Attack on Sydney Harbour

Andrew Loveridge, Podiatrist told us how to keep our feet in good health.

Carolynne Cooper from Colo Historic society spoke about Pansy the Train which ran from Richmond to Kurrajong.

Deb Hunt. Love in the Outback.

Faye Yarroll. Cochlear Implants and the role of Hearing Dogs.