Short­bread Man’s legacy

Geraldton Guardian - - Opinion - Grant Wood­hams Grant Wood­hams is chair of the Hol­lomby Foun­da­tion and vice-chair of Ger­ald­ton Uni­ver­si­ties Cen­tre board.

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.

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