LIVE AND LEARN

World travel, rais­ing two AFL premier­ship play­ers and jug­gling busi­ness with her own sport­ing ca­reer makes life ver y in­ter­est­ing for Kay Reid.

North East Living Magazine - - Contents - words Si­mone Ker­win pho­tos Marc Bongers

NEVER stop learn­ing. That’s been the phi­los­o­phy of lo­cal busi­ness­woman Kay Reid through her ca­reers as a teacher, tourism op­er­a­tor and travel agent, and has fired her sport­ing en­deav­ours, and her ap­proach to moth­er­hood.

“You should be learn­ing all the time; that’s one of the fan­tas­tic things about hav­ing staff at dif­fer­ent ages – I learn from them, just like I learn from my own kids,” she said.

A chat with Kay - travel con­sul­tant, former St Kilda bas­ket­baller, wife of one-time VFL player Bruce, and mum to AFL foot­ballers Ben and Sam - re­veals just how she has lived her de­sire to ab­sorb all life has to of­fer.

Kay Humphry grew up on a cit­rus farm in Murra­bit, a Mur­ray River town sit­u­ated be­tween Swan Hill and Echuca.

Con­jur­ing a scene like those in ‘Pippi Long­stock­ing’, Kay re­calls rid­ing her horse, Petty, to school.

“I hated bikes; I re­mem­ber rid­ing my bike to school once and get­ting stuck in the sand, so I threw the bike, and af­ter that I was al­lowed to ride the horse un­til I was in grade six,” she said.

Kay’s in­ter­est in sport be­gan in pri­mary school, where she was one of only 30 stu­dents at Murra­bit, and con­tin­ued when she stepped into the larger world of high school in Kerang, among 800 stu­dents.

She moved on to teach­ers’ col­lege in Bendigo, where she stud­ied to be­come a mu­sic teacher – and also met her fu­ture hus­band, phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher and as­pir­ing foot­baller Bruce Reid, who she mar­ried in 1977.

Af­ter col­lege, the cou­ple moved to Mel­bourne, each fol­low­ing their sport­ing dream in be­tween teach­ing.

Bas­ket­ball had be­come Kay’s fo­cus (“be­ing six foot tall and left-handed was an ad­van­tage”), and she de­vel­oped her game over three years with St Kilda, while teach­ing mu­sic at a mul­ti­cul­tural St Al­bans school.

“We had a lot of Mal­tese and Ital­ian stu­dents, and I taught a pro­gram which in­cor­po­rated their lan­guage,” she said. “I loved work­ing with the kids.”

Kay also taught pi­ano af­ter hours, with a young Eloise Southby (former Aus­tralian net­baller) among her stu­dents. “She was one of those kids you just knew was go­ing to suc­ceed, you could see it even then,” she said.

Mean­while, Bruce was carv­ing out a ca­reer in foot­ball. Hav­ing won the Michel­son Medal in Bendigo in 1976, he fol­lowed in the foot­steps of his fa­ther to the Western Oval, where he played 86 games with Footscray be­tween 1977 and ’82, coached first by Bill Goggin, then Don Mcken­zie and Royce Hart.

Re­lo­cat­ing to Carl­ton, he racked up another 33 games un­der the tute­lage of David Parkin and Robert Walls be­tween 1983 and ’85.

Be­hind the scenes, the Reids opened a Moonee Ponds travel agency, Travel Life, in 1979.

“I had a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in travel, but no­body would em­ploy me be­cause I was young and mar­ried,” Kay said. “I worked for noth­ing for about a year on Satur­day morn­ings to learn, then would drive from Keilor to Men­tone to train for bas­ket­ball for two and a half hours, and then ar­rive at the foot­ball all hot and sweaty.”

It wasn’t long be­fore the “dive of a shop” in Moonee Ponds be­came too small for the grow­ing travel agency, and the Reids’ busi­ness moved to Ascot Vale, op­er­at­ing with five con­sul­tants.

“Bruce pre­ferred be­ing out­doors more than in the of­fice, so we bought a small­go­ods busi­ness; he’d start at 5.30am, de­liv­er­ing to schools and cafes, and fin­ish in the early af­ter­noon to do the ac­counts at the travel agency, then go to train­ing three nights a week.”

Kay’s bas­ket­ball was up­ended by knee in­juries re­sult­ing in re­con­struc­tions, but she has fond mem­o­ries of a ca­reer that in­cluded win­ning the Vic­to­rian Women’s Bas­ket­ball Cham­pi­onships with St Kilda in 1979. >>

“I never made the state side, but we had five state play­ers in our team, in­clud­ing Ma­ree Jackson (Bas­ket­ball Aus­tralia hall of famer and mother of Lau­ren Jackson),” she said.

When Bruce’s foot­ball ca­reer wound down, the Reids were keen to move back to the coun­try, and found The Coach House in Bright.

A school camp of­fer­ing ski tours based from the North East tourist town, it catered for week­end groups trav­el­ling from as far as Ade­laide and Queens­land, with Kay tak­ing on the cater­ing role. “That wasn’t a drama at all, be­cause I al­ways liked to cook,” she said.

Never strangers to hard work, the Reids, who had by now wel­comed el­dest son Ben, de­cided there was a need in Bright for ski hire, so they added it to their of­fer.

“I was do­ing the cater­ing for The Coach House, we still had the travel agency in Mel­bourne, which I could as­sist from Bright,” Kay said. “And ev­ery two weeks I would go to Mel­bourne with Ben.”

When younger son Sam ar­rived, com­mut­ing be­came more dif­fi­cult, so Kay be­gan a travel busi­ness in Bright. “I started by work­ing off the end of the bench in the ski shop,” she said.

The Coach House later evolved to in­clude a restau­rant, so at one time the fam­ily was op­er­at­ing a ski shop, travel agency, restau­rant, and 18 ac­com­mo­da­tion units, which were run as a mo­tel dur­ing au­tumn and spring.

Kay even re­turned to teach­ing mu­sic in Bright when Ben started school.

In be­tween all that, the Reids helped their sons fol­low their own sport­ing path­ways.

“Bruce coached footy and I coached bas­ket­ball and rep. bas­ket­ball,” Kay said. “It was busy, but we never, ever said we couldn’t do things for the boys be­cause we had to work.”

As Ben and Sam’s sport­ing lives grew busier, the Reids de­cided a move was in or­der.

“The boys did pri­mary school in Bright, but I was on the road three nights a week with bas­ket­ball to Wan­garatta,” Kay said.

“Then Ben was in­vited to play at Rovers in the un­der 18s, so in 2006 we moved here (Wan­garatta) and Ben did year 10 and 11 at Galen, and Sam did nearly all his sec­ondary school here.”

The fam­ily found a house in Ovens Street, and drew on their ren­o­va­tion ex­pe­ri­ence from The Coach House (which they sold eight years ago) to make it their home – and later the base for Travel & Cruise Wan­garatta.

Life is as busy as ever now for 59 year old Kay, be­tween fol­low­ing her sons’ foot­ball ca­reers (“I went to 42 games in 2012”), man­ag­ing the Bright and Wan­garatta travel cen­tres, and another in Yar­ra­wonga, and en­joy­ing time with Bruce in the fam­ily’s Buckland Val­ley base sur­rounded by their horses, cats and chooks.

“I do like be­ing busy, and in our busi­ness, you need to have five or six things on the go all the time, but it’s re­ally no dif­fer­ent to a sand­wich shop,” she said.

Kay loves the flex­i­bil­ity her busi­nesses of­fer their cus­tomers.

“We can make de­ci­sions based on what’s best for the client, and not what we have to sell,” she said. “We talk to them about what they want, and just sug­gest ideas.

“Ul­ti­mately, the abil­ity to lis­ten is the most im­por­tant thing, then the abil­ity to as­sess what’s best for them. These days, peo­ple say, ‘ You can just do it on the in­ter­net’, but the in­ter­net can’t ask a ques­tion, and I’m sure that’s why we learnt to talk – so we can speak to each other.”

Kay en­joys her in­ter­ac­tion with peo­ple through her busi­ness, and when she trav­els.

“I like peo­ple, I just find what­ever peo­ple do re­ally in­ter­est­ing; ev­ery­one has a story to tell, and ev­ery story is equally im­por­tant,” she said.

Kay res­ur­rected her bas­ket­ball ca­reer in the early 2000s through the over 35s World Masters Games.

She com­peted at games in Mel­bourne (2002), Ed­mon­ton, Canada (2005), Syd­ney (2009) and Turin, Italy (2013), win­ning gold in Mel­bourne and Italy, bronze in Canada, and sil­ver in Syd­ney.

“No- one is as quick as they used to be, but it’s very com­pet­i­tive and en­joy­able,” she said. “It’s all about hav­ing fun; it gives you a goal. It’s another ex­pe­ri­ence, and isn’t life all about ex­pe­ri­ences?”

“I like peo­ple, I just find what­ever peo­ple do re­ally in­ter­est­ing; ev­ery­one has a story to tell, and ev­ery story is

equally im­por­tant.”

GOOD SPORTS \ Kay and Bruce Reid sup­ported each other through busy sport­ing ca­reers, Kay as a St Kilda bas­ket­baller, and Bruce as a VFL foot­baller with Footscray and Carl­ton.

KAY’S BOYS \ Hus­band Bruce with sons Ben ( back) and Sam.

SHAR­ING THE SPORT­ING GLORY \ Kay and Bruce, with son Ben ( left), were

able to share in youngest son Sam’s

AFL premier­ship glory when the Syd­ney

Swans de­feated Hawthorn in 2012. Ben, too, has an AFL premier­ship medal,

won in 2010 when Colling­wood de­feated

St Kilda. Kay and Bruce are ex­pect­ing another busy foot­ball sea­son, shar­ing games to watch both their

sons in ac­tion.

SAD­DLED UP \ Kay ( far left) rode her horse to school

un­til grade six af­ter shun­ning her

bi­cy­cle. Decades later she still en­joys

horserid­ing and is pic­tured be­low with hus­band Bruce rid­ing

in Ne­vada, USA.

BUSY AT WORK \ Kay with her Travel and Cruise Wan­garatta staff mem­ber Ta­mara.

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