|2 Apr 2020|
|Passing of friends|
Mark Stanford (1969F) and I landed up in adjacent beds in Dorm 3 of the last year of Rossall House, in January 1960. Along the outer wall were Connel Theunissen, Vaughan Gibson, Andy Selfe, Mark Stanford and Douglas Wares. We hit it off straight away and remained friends ever since.
Birt and Bramley were being built behind at the time and we were again together in Birt the next year. Mark was always the instigator: an early project he took on and encouraged others of us to help was to renovate the games cupboard in the Rec Room. We made a mess of it but learned a lot and we didn’t get into trouble over it!
My parents were either in Pretoria or overseas, so I often spent Sundays, long weekends and short holidays with Mark. His parents Dickie (F) and Phoebe and brothers George and Paul always welcoming me into their home as part of the family.
Again we were in Founders together, spending more time fixing lawnmowers than on school-work (which showed in our eventual results!). There was much emphasis at the time of using ‘initiative’. He demonstrated this by deciding that the old Wendy-house at the back of Founders which our predecessors, John Voortman and ‘Jumbo’ Van Reenen had been using as a workshop, was falling down. Close by was a little store-room, too small to be used for this purpose, but it could be enlarged....... He put the idea to Wilkie who agreed in principle, not quite realising what it would entail, including re-routing the stormwater drain. Wilkie was rather shocked when we started, but somehow he had faith in Mark’s abilities. Mark assembled a small team to help, including Charles Kidd, Charles McGregor, probably others that I’ve forgotten, and we got stuck in. There were no plans, no estimates of materials or costs; just the determination that we’d finish it somehow. At certain stages, some of us would buy a bag of cement to be able to carry on. It cost 75c a bag, but that was three weeks’ pocket money back then! Charles McGregor’s Dad donated 1000 bricks; I suspect Wilkie also contributed, and so on. We found an old stone seat and built that in (it saved us a few bricks). In the end, it was done and we could fix the mowers under better conditions!
It’s still there, now as part of a fire escape from the upstairs Dorm, a monument to his initiative:
We made schemes all through College of having a business together; me wanting to be a part-time farmer while working as an agricultural mechanic; he, of course, a farmer. Mark has always been a progressive farmer and realised in the early ‘80s that the tractors on the market for Orchard use were too wide for dense plantings. He decided that the Fendt Vineyard tractor from Germany would be ideal for this purpose and got the agency for it here in SA. This required mechanical back-up and he persuaded me to move to Elgin and we started the business that we’d planned at school. A few years into this, he encouraged me to buy a small farm and enabled me to achieve my long-term goal!