Roy is a man of many tal­ents

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - NEWS - Sam Gibbs

Have you ever got a job by mis­take and stuck around the in­dus­try for 35 years? That’s what Burekup res­i­dent Roy Smith did when he joined the Lon­don Fire Brigade on Fe­bru­ary 12, 1966.

You see, he was just try­ing to help out a mate.

“My friend was try­ing out and failed the writ­ten test,” Roy said.

“I said I’d do the test and get the an­swers for him to try again, but I got in and thought I’d give it a go.

“If you find some­thing you like do­ing then you’ll never work a day in your life.

“I felt like I haven’t done much hard work in that re­spect.”

Roy worked for a cou­ple of fire sta­tions in south Lon­don be­fore de­cid­ing to make the move to Aus­tralia.

“I got fed up with Eng­land, I needed a change, to get away from the rat race,” he said.

Roy said there was a lot of civil un­rest in his neigh­bour­hood of Peck­ham, south-east Lon­don, which was one of the rea­sons his fam­ily quickly packed their things.

Aus­tralia was not the first coun­try on the list. The Smith fam­ily wanted a quick get­away and had rel­a­tives in Canada.

“We drove to Lon­don to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­i­ties of mov­ing and we went to Canada House but there was no park­ing out the front,” Roy said.

“So we kept driv­ing and the next one was Aus­tralia House and there was plenty of park­ing there.”

It wasn’t a purely im­pul­sive de­ci­sion – Roy’s wife Au­drey had an un­cle in Perth.

The Smiths were one of the last Ten Pound Poms, part of the Aus­tralian As­sisted Pas­sage Mi­gra­tion Scheme.

Roy said his fam­ily flew to Aus­tralia on December 30, 1972, just be­fore the scheme ended.

“You could only bring your­self and a suit­case,” Roy said.

“It was prob­a­bly one of my bet­ter moves.

“We ar­rived with our snow coats, gloves, all our win­ter gear and stepped out of an air-con­di­tioned plane into a 40C sauna.

“I thought it would be warm but no one told me it would be that hot.”

The Smiths orig­i­nally set­tled in Ar­madale where Roy joined the Perth Fire Brigade in Oc­to­ber, 1973.

Fast for­ward to 1992 and Roy ap­plied to be of­fi­cer-in-charge of the Bun­bury Fire Sta­tion, fill­ing the role left by for­mer sta­tion boss Harold Bird.

A year into the job and Roy was one of three fire­fight­ers to re­ceive a Chief Of­fi­cer’s Award for res­cu­ing three men from a house fire in 1993.

Af­ter six years with the brigade, Roy re­tired to Burekup and kept up his life­long hob­bies of build­ing fur­ni­ture and pho­tog­ra­phy.

“I just re­ally en­joyed it, it’s rather magic to point your cam­era, press a but­ton, put the film into colour­ful wa­ter and pull out a photo,” Roy said. “It’s in­cred­i­ble.”

Then about three or four years ago Roy de­cided to branch out from fur­ni­ture and into the world of build­ing model cars from re­cy­cled wood.

This year Roy en­tered the Brunswick Show’s wood­work­ing com­pe­ti­tion for the first time and took home the ti­tle for chil­dren’s toys – the only cat­e­gory that fit.

Roy has built 15 mod­els, mostly based on 1930s clas­sics, and of­ten works with do­nated or scrap ma­te­ri­als.

Parts of his lat­est model were sourced from an old door frame in the Burekup Hall.

The mod­els in­clude fea­tures such func­tional doors and Roy builds ev­ery­thing him­self ex­cept for the wheels, which he now plans to do him­self.

Pic­ture: Jon Gell­weiler

For­mer Bun­bury Fire Sta­tion of­fi­cer-in-charge Roy Smith in his work­shop where he cre­ates de­tailed model cars out of wood.

Roy’s mod­els are mostly based on 1930s clas­sics.

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