Posted by Ian Ballantine on Sep 09, 2020
Our weekly Club meeting on Zoom with guest speaker, member Geoff Gartly. other guests were Sossi from Cilantro and Geoff's wife, Vicki.
Welcome on another sunny Wednesday morning! By 7:30 we were 24 people and more as the morning continued. It was great to see Sossi and we were also joined by Vicki Gartly. Helen was our co-chairperson and welcomed us and Pres. Geoff who congratulated Geoff on wearing a RUOK T-shirt. Pres. Geoff informed us that the R U OK? movement began in 2009. It is an Australian non-profit suicide prevention organization, founded by advertiser Gavin Larkin and advocates for people to have conversations with others. The Larkin family has endured unimaginable loss over the past six years. He reminded us that while we are all challenged some people are suffering more than others. Thursday 13th is RU OK Day and we are encouraged to ring people in a positive way. From my experience an unexpected phone call when things are not going so well is not only a most pleasant surprise it makes you feel you belong to the out world. So Pres. Geoff is really right in reminding us to make THAT call. Then Pres. Geoff felt he needed to explain his absence from the Strategic Meetings run by Kevin with Helen’s help. Both He and Ron are councilors of Kingston City Council which meets every Monday and are unavoidable. He congratulated the club for the excellent attendance and the excellent results that are coming out of the points being made. He reminded us that our Guest Speaker is Mitch Fifield, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, will answer questions and it would aid the flow of the meeting if we send our questions to Pres. Geoff beforehand. He also informed us that the Board meeting was an extremely positive one and there was discussion of making sure astute giving of our money in donations. It was also noted that the Club Forum was most successful with more members attending. Now we were introduced to the Mystery Guest Speaker who was non-other than Past President Geoff Gartly! We thought we had guessed when Vicki came to our meeting! Geoff began his presentation by telling us that us that he has had so far an interesting life and no doubt everyone has an interesting story. He is married to Vicki and has a son, Aden and a daughter, Kaila . Geoff grew up in Seaford and went to Aspendale Tech which no longer exists. When he was young he joined the Scouts and was an integral part of the movement especially when his children joined and was able to spend valuable time sharing Scouting adventures. When he was 10 years old when he had his own scary adventure having camped on the end of the oval of our local primary school at Seaford North. Our teacher was going to sleep in one tent and he and the others in the other tent. They had gone to bed at about 930pm and the teacher was not too far away when at about 10:00pm a Kingswood station wagon grove onto the oval and drove through the space in the middle of the 2 tents. Geoff said he could still recall the headlights as we lay in the tent. They drove off with one tent under the back wheel burning the car we were told they thought they had killed someone! In his mid-teens, Geoff was diagnosed with Scheuermann’s Disease which is a condition affecting the upper back which becomes rounded so it looks hunched over. Geoff needed to wear a contraption for 2-3 years which did not help socially or mentally as one could imagine. Many kids thought he was a freak and he had to carry a spanner as bolts had to be undone at the neck during summer as it became itchy and invasive and nonflexible. Geoff said he had not met anyone else who suffered from the same thing. The alternative was surgery and six months in recovery. It resulted in me needing facial jaw surgery as a result of the brace. Geoff told us that his sisters were diagnosed but not as invasive as his. When the brace was removed Geoff felt like a rag-  doll but was SO happy.  From the age of 15-21 Geoff worked at Hills Industries, firstly part time on school holidays and then 3-4 days during university, where his father was the branch accountant.  He told us he learnt many skills dealing with people from different races. He also learnt how to operate the large overhead crane and carted clothe lines, steel and mufflers. Geoff felt it taught him to and had to gain the respect of the workers being one of the boss’ sons. In hindsight Geoff felt it would have been easier and better to have worked at Macca’s. In early 20’s  Geoff joined the Brighton Yacht Club and joined the crew on the “Great Expectations”. Again another dangerous adventure! Geoff did not go on the ill fated voyage from Devenport where  6 people lost their lives in the Bass Strait. Being community minded Geoff joined the Young Liberals and made many friends and met Ron Brownlees and Jeff Kennet. He became very involved and manned the booths for election days in Mentone. He joined YHA Bushwalking in his mid 20’s  for walking trips and met Vicki during walking, snow camping and other adventures. Geoff and Vick were married 19th April 1997. He felt it was the “best day ever”. Vicki and Geoff went to Geoff’s ancestral home in Gartly where the Gartly castle still remains and reconnected with history. Geoff joined the Springvale Jaycees and in the mid 80’s joined Bentleigh Lions and was introduced to the Rotary Club of Bentleigh Moorabbin by the late Barry Neve. Geoff’s father was also an accountant and died of bladder cancer in 2009 on his 69th birthday and Geoff talked about his fathers struggle with the cancer. Geoff became one of 8 Founding Directors of the Ormond McKinnon Community Bank and spent 7 years as their treasurer. In 2012 formed a “Conquer Cancer” called “Team Gartly” and helped towards raising 27K. The team rode their cycles to Healesville and back. The feeling for all who joined in this venture, found it most rewarding especially as they were clapped and cheered on the way. He was instrumental along with Sandra Mywoda with the organizing Chinese Festival with McKinnon Primary School. It was a good way to learn about a different culture.  Geoff also became very involved in Student exchange with his son eventually going to Finland. Geoff also was President of our club in the year 2007-2008. Giving back to the community is high on Geoff’s list and he has certainly achieved this well and truly. Thank you for sharing the travels of your life and may you have many more exciting adventures in your “Holiday House on Wheels”. Geoff was asked what were the highlights of Rotary for him and he answered “making friends” and the “involvement of his children” in rotary events. Thank you Geoff for your amazing presentation and proving how important it is for us to get to know our fellow Rotarians.
Zilla (Bulletin Reporter)