Shortbread Man’s legacy
The name Rowena Ball probably means very little to you unless you were fortunate enough to attend the inaugural Joe Hollomby Memorial lecture.
It was held at the Geraldton Universities Centre last Friday night.
Joe Hollomby was known as the “Shortbread Man” and he raised more than a million dollars for charity by selling his shortbreads around town.
I was one of many people who bought his shortbread and jam tarts.
However, he was sadly taken from us nine years ago when he was murdered at his home in Geraldton.
It was decided after his death that the charitable legacy Joe Hollomby had created should become part of the Geraldton Universities Centre.
And so was born the Hollomby Foundation which provides scholarships to needy university students.
And now the GUC has further commemorated his work with an annual lecture, the Hollomby Lecture.
I was lucky enough to attend the first one, and what a brilliant night it was.
Rowena Ball is a mathematician and a chemist but also a researcher into the origins of life. She provided a wide ranging presentation that covered engineering, climate change, stability and chaos theories, colonialism, fractals and indigenous knowledge.
I’m not about to explain what a fractal is here but if you are brave enough to do some googling you’ll see how beautiful our world of fractals is.
Dr Ball’s engaging manner was almost akin to being hypnotised.
Everyone sat in absolute silence as she took us on a journey that I dare say very few people in Geraldton have been on before.
The work that Dr Ball is doing is at the forefront of Australian science so we were incredibly privileged to hear from her.
But the story of Rowena Ball is just as strong and empowering as the subjects she talks about. Dr Ball, who now works at the Australian National University in Canberra, is of Irish and Aboriginal descent.
She was a young mother living in remote NSW when her husband died in the 1980s leaving her to raise three young children.
Through determination and will she studied by correspondence and eventually gained a university degree.
What a lovely tribute to Joe Hollomby. Well done and thank you sincerely, Dr Ball.