Gwebi College of Agriculture logo Gwebi College of Agriculture address

News about former students

Course 20

Robert Oswald Baier (Course 20)
Rob's parents grew up in Eastern Cape of South Africa. They met and married there. "My Dad came into the marriage with my half sister Eleanor, who was six years older than me. I was born in February 1948. Following me two years later, was my sister Rosalie. All three of us were born in King Williams Town, now known as Bisho.
"In 1952 my Dad decided, as did many people from SA and UK, to move to Rhodesia. He took up a job as a Land Development Officer (Extension Officer) based in Gutu. His main work area was in developing Small Scale Commercial farmers in the then very wild areas beyond Gutu. While in Gutu, two more brothers were born, Graham and Neville.
"After being taught by correspondence I went to Gwelo to start Std One, going to Cecil John Rhodes as a boarder at aged eight during January of 1956. When it was time for me to move on to High School I went on to Chaplin as did most of my classmates. This was in 1961 and I left at the end of 1966. In the meantime, my parents had moved to Henderson Research Station and then a year before I went to Gwebi my Father moved onto the Poultry Section of Gwebi under Pete Keene.
Kay and Rob Baier, student from Course 20 at gwebi College of Agricutlure"I had, at this time determined to go through Gwebi, but before I could go, I first needed to raise some money to make it possible. Consequently, instead of working for a season on a farm as pre Gwebi experience, I worked for two years as a trainee field technician at the Research Station behind Ian Smiths official Residence in Salisbury. These two years counted as pre Gwebi and allowed me to accumulate enough cash to get to Gwebi. I also secured a loan from Government that required me to return to Government service on completion of the Course. Other Chaplin guys at Gwebi were Alan Hossack from my Course and Keith Coventry and Tony Watson who were my peers at school but were now ahead of me in Course 19.
"Dad remained on the Staff at Gwebi for the duration of my first C20 year. It was a little strange to attend poultry practical with my Dad and also to have him lecture on practical poultry. A year prior to me enrolling on C20 Dad took on a small holding near Norton and was growing vegetables to be sold on the Salisbury Municipal Market. Some of my spare time during pre Gwebi and during first year was spent doing various jobs on the small holding and in carting produce to the Municipal Market. At the end of first year Dad sold up and also resigned from Gwebi taking on a cattle/irrigation unit near Lupane. Hence, I was listed in the Gwebi records as having come from Lupane.
I lived with my parents on the Gwebi grounds for a little over a year prior to the start of our course. During this time, each day I would drive myself and my mother to work and on route drop off my three younger siblings at school, then drop my mother - collecting them all again in the late afternoon.
"First year Gwebi went very well. I benefited much from it and enjoyed it. I however, had a setback during first year because I contracted hepatitis and missed a big chunk of lectures and missed all sport for first year. “Prickle” Thorn kindly duplicated his notes for me which enabled me to catch up quickly. It was much appreciated.
"By the time the long “Vac” came about my Dad had just moved to the ranch at Lupane. I had a great desire to go there for the Vac but badly needed more cash to see me through. Hence, I put my name down for a posting to a farm for the duration of the Vac. I was accepted by Alec von Memmerty in Mazoe, close to the Hereford breeders, Archie Black. It was quite thrilling for me to be close to the Blacks as we had Herefords on Gwebi. I, years later, ended up buying a flat in the Avenues of Harare for use while in town, and Alec was retired in a flat over the road.
"Immediately prior to going off to work in Mazoe, I spent about ten days on the ranch. The cattle handling facilities were broken down and had an inefficient, cumbersome layout. My task for that short time was to get the cattle handling facilities into a working order in time to accommodate the arrival of the first big batch of wild heifers and steers from Kana Block near Wankie. The Gwebi training helped hugely for this because I had a clear picture of what could be made of the existing setup and what was needed to be achieved within budget.
"Second year progressed well. I was very happy at having chosen to go through Gwebi. The majority of us at Gwebi had not yet gone through our military National Service. Consequently, a huge consignment of us were drafted in at the same time and were posted into the same intake for Llewellin Barracks. Being a large group of us all together made it much easier for us, and I think we made a difference at Depot in areas such as the rugby team, etc. After basic training we were posted to Wankie for the balance of our 9 months Service. There were no hostilities at the time.
"Immediately on demobilization, I returned to the Research Station, but instead of remaining in Salisbury I applied for a transfer into Conex and was posted to Enkeldoorn in the Small-Scale sector. It was a new challenge and was satisfying because we saw a lot of change in the level of small-scale production and improved standard of living for them. During this time, I also worked as much as possible with the Staff from the Commercial farming areas to keep myself up to date.
"Among my siblings, my sister Rosalie married and eventually move to South Africa. My next brother Graham also went through Gwebi, C24, a few years later, before going on to do a degree. Neville the youngest, went on to train as a Baptist Minister.
During this time the war had begun, so it was not long before I was called up and involved with 10RR based in Gwelo. I saw service with 10RR starting in the North, then in the East, then Southeast and finally in various parts of the Midlands.
"Towards the end of the war, I was promoted in my work to be Group Officer for the Small-Scale Areas but soon also oversaw the Commercial Farming Group. A few months later I was transferred to Karoi in the same capacity.
"Conex employed both degreed and diploma Staff-maybe 50-50 ratio. We were expected to do the same work and went through the same in-service training. What struck me during these early days was that even though the degreed fellows had a far greater academic knowledge, the diploma fellows had their feet more firmly on the ground and produced equally good results. Our training at Gwebi had been so very well thought out by such great Rhodesians and the guidance we received throughout the Course was so up to date and appropriate. The diploma graduates fitted into Conex and the farming community far easier and more quickly than the degreed fellows. At this time in history, the Gwebi training was really worth its salt.
"Whilst in Enkeldoorn, apart from the Extension work, there was also a great need for conservation work in the form of protecting arable lands from erosion, gully control etc. This also continued into Karoi. However, in Karoi, as in most Commercial farming areas, there was a need for ameliorating the effects of mid-season droughts and also to extend the season growing length. To this end there was increasing need for farm dams to be constructed. I became very involved with the development of dams in Karoi/Tengwe.
With the coming of independence and Zimbabwe, the opportunities for white officers in Government became limited. I resigned and joined Windmill as their Animal Health and Stockfeed Manager and technical man for animal matters. Windmill allowed us to run our own side businesses so I continued with my involvement with dams. I now registered a company and began my career as a consultant for dams. By this time, I had built up a lot of contacts among Engineers and the Department of Water Development etc and qualified to make application to be Gazetted as a Civil Engineering Technician for dams. This was duly approved by the Engineers’ Board. I was busy and kept properly afloat until the political disturbances again raised an ugly head.
"While Zimbabwe was falling apart, Zambia made a sudden change for the better. Many farmers then moved up to Zambia. I also found some small opportunities in Zambia to engineer dams at the start of 2000. This business very quickly developed, resulting in me being fulltime employed on dams all over Zambia. There was a big need for engineers for dams and I arrived at just the right time. I am still busy with dams all over Zambia to the present.
"Coming from Zimbabwe was a help because our standards and attention to detail were a lot higher than what was common in Zambia. Most dams in Zambia were engineered and constructed by a Government agency at low efficiency. There was only one private competent Engineer active among Commercial Farmers when I arrived in Zambia. All the Zambian systems were based on the same as was in Zimbabwe but were neglected and not adhered to. Zambia as of now is very much better than in the early 2000’s.
"Zimbabwe’s loss was Zambia’s gain in a number of ways. The many Zimbabweans who came up to Zambia to farm completely changed the farming face. Crop yields went up dramatically, Zimbabwean farms paid proper wages to labourers and developed proper housing, as was done in Zimbabwe. It was good for Zambia and the country soon changed from being a net importer of food to being an exporter. We were privileged to have grown up and spent our early life in Rhodesia. There had been such a good foundation set for us by our predecessors.
"Living in Enkeldoorn was not unlike any other farming community. We were all one community. The Club was the centre of social life with its normal spread of activities. Sport wise I was involved with rugby, squash and bowls. I enjoyed fishing but did not concentrate too much on it while in Enkeldoorn. The war took up a lot of my time so I concentrated my remaining recreation time on hunting. I had many opportunities to hunt in both the Small-Scale farms and on the Large-Scale farm in Enkeldoorn. In addition, I was a member of the Midlands Branch of Hunter’s Association who had camps in the Gatooma area and access to National Parks Hunting Areas. Through my Enkeldoorn days I spent a lot of time doing such hunting. After moving to Karoi hunting became too expensive and family circumstances changed. However, with Small-Scale still under my wing on the edge of the Zambezi Escarpment I still had good opportunities for a number of years, to hunt big game that came up from the ‘Valley”. Being in Karoi the Zambezi and Kariba became easily available for fishing, which I also availed myself of.
"Even though we had some ‘interesting’ times, my parents, myself and all my siblings got safely through the war, but a few years later my elder sister Eleanor and her husband died within a few months of each other resulting in me taking on three of their four children ranged 11 to 18 years. The two boys were soon to leave school and quickly established themselves in successful careers while their young sister remained with me through part of junior school, all of Secondary School and Secretarial College. I was not married at that stage but the Karoi community, especially the ladies from Church helped a huge amount.
A few years after my “children” were off my hands I “met” and married Kay Simpson in 1995. She had been widowed in Karoi a couple of years previously. Kay had three children. At the time of our marriage the eldest a girl, Joey, was at University while one of the boys, Robin, was mid Secondary School at Peterhouse and Gordon was in his last year at Rydings in Karoi. He went on through Peterhouse.
"Because of circumstances it was best to live on the Simpson home farm, Good Hope Farm. I continued my business and kept an eye on the farm. The cropping was let out while Kay ran the cattle under my direction. I also developed game on the farm. The starting tenant on the farm was Neil Saywood for five years. Followed by Shaun Madgewick until the Farm was eventually taken from the family in 2002. The farm had been in the Simpson Family since 1948. Both tenants were outstanding. The tenants each grew 60ha tobacco followed by Maize followed by Rhodes Grass. We grazed the stover and the grass. We built up both good bird hunting and game animals including big Sable, on Good Hope, and very good fishing in the new farm dam.
"While on the farm I set up a short duration high intensity grazing system over the whole farm. This completely changed the nature of the herd. The smaller cows did well, the bigger ones fell by the wayside, calving per centage and weaner weight went down but overall beef production from the farm increased by about 15Kg of beef per Ha of grazing. As the system progressed the calving per centage and weaning weights were steadily improving. The veld condition immediately improved and continued to do so. Of interest was that the Sable herd began a rotation of their own. They would follow about 4 to 6 weeks behind where the cattle had been. However, we were all evicted in the Zimbabwean upheavals before our Short Duration grazing or game enterprise had optimized. Good Hope Farm had around 125 families living on it, grew export crops, produced export traceable beef and forex earning wildlife.
"On account of the breakdown in Zimbabwe our families have had to move all over the world. Among my “children” Evans is in Canada, Brett and Owen are still in Zimbabwe. Christine sadly passed away in Zimbabwe fairly recently. Kay’s children, who were almost ready to take over Good Hope Farm, are scattered - Joey is in London, Robin is in Canada and Gordon is in Poole UK. All children have done well, are married and have their own children now.

Graham Elliott (Course 20).
Graham was Marketing Manager with William Bain.

Ken Forbes (Course 20).
Kenneth Ronald John Forbes was born in Salisbury in 1949 and was educated at St. George’s College in Salisbury. Lynette and Ken Forbes, student from Course 20 at Gwebi College of Agriculture
I did pre-Gwebi with Mr. Smith in Odzi and because of the severity of the drought that year I moved to Nidd Valley farm in Trelawney which was owned by Major Parsons.
I attended Gwebi between July 1968 - October 1970 and obtained my Diploma. I did national service at Llewellin Barracks outside of Bulawayo with most of the guys from course 20. This was followed by the usual regular territorial call ups.
I joined CONEX as an extension office in Enkeldoorn before moving on to join the Department of Research and Specialist Services at Salisbury Research Station and assisted with off station field trials.
I then moved into the commercial world and joined Agricura as a sales representative based in Rusape before deciding to try farming and worked as a manager growing tobacco for Pete Landos on Mwenge Farm in Inyazura.
I joined Windmill as a sales agronomist based in Hartley and worked my way up to the position of Marketing Manager in Harare.
Moved to Johannesburg, South Africa in 1988 and worked for ICT 2000, a subsidiary company of Sentrachem. I was made redundant when the company ceased operating and I had to make a decision whether or not to start on my own. It was on the beach at Balitto when a young lady wearing a Nike tee shirt walked past and I noticed the writing on the back " JUST DO IT ".
I opened Kenchem Trading in 1992 supplying agricultural chemicals to customers in Southern and Central Africa and have been in business for the past 28 years.
I met my wife to be Lynette Vermaak from Fort Victoria who was visiting friends in Rusape and we married in March 1976. We have two sons, Shane and Craig, both living in Johannesburg.
I enjoy gardening, playing golf, fly fishing, camping, visiting game parks, birding and wild life photography.

Malcolm Hamilton-Ritchie (Course 20)
After St Georges, Malcolm was cadet with the Forestry Commission but they released him during National Service and he signed up with the army and served with C Squadron, SAS, in Northern Rhodesia until the Federation was disbanded. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the British Army and was posted on the Rhine when he resigned after UDI was declared. He saved some cash as an assistant in Anglo American’s Geological Survey and enrolled aged 26 with Course 20 after completing his pre-Gwebi season at Chibvuti Farm with Charles Newmarch. Malcolm went on to earn a First Class Diploma with four distinctions in 1970.
He worked off his government bursary with CONEX in Karoi then returned briefly to the staff of Gwebi looking after the tobacco section and other tasks.
I then joined Arbor Acres (Rhodesia) Pvt Ltd in charge of the pure line breeding stock, GP and Parent Stock based in Salisbury South. I think it is now called Crest Poultry.
The tight hygiene requirements and my rather ‘different’ work compared to the norm of crops and larger livestock I lost contact with the widely dispersed ex Gwebi students.
After ’78 I left Rhodesia when I joined Ross Breeders developing a pure line breeding operation in India.
After Singapore, Zimbabwe, the UK, Papua Niugini and Malaysia, I landed in Australia in 1996. Bartter Chickens in Griffiths, NSW positioned me under their Pure Line Breeder Manager.
When Bartter bought Steggles Poultry, NSW, I was positioned in Maitland, NSW to assist the Contract Broiler Producers for quality production.
I retired in 2007 and have remained living in a retirment village in the Maitland Area. I am keeping gainfully active by improving my skills in Carpentry at the Men’s Shed nearby. Now in my seventies and in retirement.
I had 5 sons, unfortunately one was lost in an accident, and the rest are now living in UK, Japan and Australia.

Adrian Herud (Course 20)
“I grew up on Maora Farm where my father grew tobacco, maize and cattle in Karoi North.
“I went to Peterhouse School near Marandellas. I didn’t do a pre-Gwebi farm job but enrolled at Gwebi from October 1968 to July 1970 with C20.
Marion and Adrian Herud from Course 20 at Gwebi College of Agriculture“I worked for Mike Cadiz in Gatooma growing maize, soya beans and cotton for a year after Gwebi. Despite the UDI sanctions on Rhodesia I managed to get a visa to visit to Australia, so Willie Hughes, also course 20, and I went to Australia together and worked our way round the country for eighteen months.
“I returned to Rhodesia in 1975 and rented the home farm, Maora, and grew tobacco with an AFC loan. There were still sanctions in place and we were dealing with the terrorist war so farming was becoming difficult.
“In 1976 I met and married Marion Winter.
“I was with a Police Recce Unit and didn’t escape the constant call-ups and on Christmas Eve 1979 whilst on duty we had a road accident where three members of my Police Recce Unit were killed. Fortunately I escaped serious injury.
“Then in 1980, the year of Zimbabwe’s Independence, I purchased Ardingly Farm also in Karoi North, with the help of AFC’s Bank Manager, Alan Banks.
“At this stage we had two small children. We grew tobacco, maize and cattle on Ardingly Farm for nineteen years until we lost it in 2000.
“Marion and I then went to the South Island of New Zealand to join my brother, Chris (Course 23). With his moral support we purchased an orchard that mainly exported apricots to America.
“We sold that three years later and then managed a Vineyard near Nelson, also in the South Island. Twelve years later, Marion and I moved to Albany, Australia in 2013 to retire but find myself working even harder in the gardening industry.
“Andrew our son is here in Albany and Heidi our daughter is in England.”

Dave Humphreys (Course 20)
David Gordon Humphreys is in Queensland, Australia.

Keith Moore (Course 20)
Keith died in a motor accident.

Donald Parry(Course 20)
Donald Frederick Parry grew up in Salisbury and joined National Parks after Gwebi. Later he moved down to Knysna in the Western Cape.

Vale Dudley Herbert Rogers (Course 20).
Dudley was born in Bulawayo on the 29th December 1948. He was home schooled, attended REPS Primary, and then Plumtree School (and always stood by Grey house!).Dudley Rogers former student at Gwebi College of Agriculture
After leaving school Dudley farmed with his father in West Nicholson and also worked for Lemco on the Liebigs Ranches. While there he had an encounter with some elephant while driving home on a tractor, slightly inebriated, one night. He only figured out the true gravity of the story the next morning, realizing that the screaming that he'd heard had actually not been a problem with the tractor, as he'd thought at the time, but the enraged screams of the elephant chasing him! In 1970 Dudley enrolled at Gwebi Agricultural College with Course 20 and after graduating he moved back to work in farming, doing irrigation and raising cattle with Rogers Brothers and Son in West Nicholson. He was also an accomplished golfer and marksman.
Dudley was married to Tess, father to Clinton and Nadine, Nikki, Donna and Clive, and grandfather to Shannon, Michelle, Reagan and Jordan.
During that time Dudley was active in the West Nicholson Farmers' Association, serving as its Chairman for many years. While still farming Dudley opened up a new enterprise, Tshabezi Safaris, which was a business developed from what he loved to do most - hunting, contributing to and caring for wildlife, and building relationships with his clients, employees, and many others, opening up for them the beauty and wonder of the Zimbabwean bush and God's Love. As so many people can testify, Dudley was a generous, fun loving friend and storyteller extraordinaire.
Dudley was another one of the legendary Lowveld characters who worked successfully with all the people there who will miss him greatly. With the loss of his ranches he continued working there with CAMPFIRE and the local people, all of whom benefitted greatly from the work he so loved in that lovely environment. Although he has now moved on and will be greatly missed by the large community there, and overseas, he will most certainly not be forgotten as he has left a wonderful legacy behind him. So many will have such fond memories of him, many of which will be repeated many times around the camp fires for many years to come.
But Dudley's greatest passion was his personal relationship with his Saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord. He took God with him everywhere he went, and left Him with many people who allowed him to share Christ with them. This man led an inspirational life full of adventure, and he has passed that legacy on, not only to his children, but also to his precious grandchildren.
Dudley passed away on Wednesday, 23rd May 2018 from cancer.

Bob Swift (Course 20) deceased
Robert Derek Swift was born in Enkeldoorn on the 27th March, 1940, the youngest of four children, two brothers, Mike and John Anthony (J.A.) , and a sister, Jenny, to Pat and Olive Swift. Bob’s father joined the Ministry of Native Affairs which later became Internal Affairs, and he was posted all over the country rising to the level of Native Commissioner which encompassed the role of Administrator, Magistrate, Police Officer, Road Engineer and Doctor in the more remote postings. Bob’s mother Olive, in turn, was a resourceful, resolute and courageous woman in bringing up four children at these outlying stations.
He was schooled at Umtali Boys High School and hoped to study Veterinary Science at University but his father was retiring and finances were tight so he went overseas for six months before returning to Rhodesia and enlisting with the BSAP in December, 1958. Bob rose through the ranks to Chief Inspector after serving as Aide-de-Camp to Clifford du Pont, Officer Administering the Government in 1971/72.
Jenny and Bob Swift in 2021 Bob was stident course 20 at Gwebi College of AgricultureBob married Jennifer Waymark from Que-Que in February, 1969 and after twelve years in the BSAP decided instead to go farming on Bemthree Farm on the Sebakwe River in the Rhodesdale farming area in 1973. Here he turned a good farm into an outstanding farm where he grew wheat, barley, maize, paprika, marigolds, and sorghum seed and citrus under irrigation and bred pedigree Brahman and Simmental cattle. Bob also bred pedigree Dorpers and Wiltipers as well as Boer Goats. Bob practised the Savory system of grazing for his cattle and many Field Days were held for the farming community on his model farm. After some years Bob acquired the next door farm, Journey’s End also on the Sebakwe River, giving Bemthree more room for their expanding farming operations.
Bemthree was close to Rhodesdale Club, the centre of the social life in this farming area, and as such Bob and Jenny were closely involved with the upkeep of the Club and undertook all manner of responsibilities in regard to the Club. Bob was a keen and competent horseman and both he and Jenny played Polo Crosse and represented Rhodesdale at Inter-Club Tournaments throughout the country. They also both enjoyed their Tennis when they weren’t playing Polo Crosse and their two children, Nikki and Lloyd, thoroughly enjoyed their upbringing amongst this wonderful farming community.
Co-existing with his farming Bob started hunting safaris in 1982 with international clients who had a wide variety of wildlife to choose from on Bemthree. This hunting business required a safari lodge to accommodate these hunters which was built overlooking a particularly picturesque part of the Sebakwe River. His safari business gradually evolved into the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy which was formed in 1989 when twelve farmers in the Kwe-Kwe farming area banded together, initiated and driven by Bob, to remove all their internal fencing forming a safe and sustainable area for wildlife to live and breed. The area so formed amounted to 156,000 acres and is home to a small population of Black Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Sable, Kudu, Eland, Buffalo, Giraffe, Zebra, Impala and numerous other smaller species of wildlife. This Conservancy survives to this day but has recently come under threat from a new generation of land invaders.
Concurrently with all his farming and wildlife conservation work Bob involved himself with representing his farming community at the Commercial Farmers’ Union, firstly as Chairman of the Que-Que Farmers’ Association, then up through the various committee stages at the CFU to Chairman of the Cattle Producers Association for the whole country, then Vice President of the CFU and finally to President in 1998. Bob was an excellent choice for this position as he had a good understanding of a broad spectrum of farming activities from cropping, dryland and irrigation, to livestock production, both large and small, and then the integrated hunting and safari industry which many farmers had now adopted.
Bob returned as a Trustee of the CFU and later he Chaired the Farm Families Trust, a charity that helps displaced Zimbabwean farmers with medical problems.
During the land grab Bemthree was earmarked for an individual very high up the ZANU-PF ladder, the personal secretary to Mugabe and the Cabinet. The Swift family were forced to leave their farm in 2007 and they moved to Harare and both took up employment to make ends meet but continued to be the very hospitable couple that they always were. Their home at Goring Close in Highlands was never going to replace Bemthree, Jenny’s home since her birth, but it was a refuge during the torrid years. Bob took up breeding the most beautiful orchids and the miniature Sebright chickens giving Bob and Jenny a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction.
Bob’s health started to deteriorate several years ago and besides his heart problems it was discovered he had a type of leukaemia which was kept in check with medication but sadly he died on Saturday, 2nd April 2022 at his home in Harare aged 82.
The CFU, in their brief obituary, described Bob as “a wonderful man who cared deeply for his fellow farmers, and he will be greatly missed.” Yes, that is true, but he was more than that to many people – he was a mentor and role model to many younger farmers, an advisor always willing to listen and he helped numerous young Zimbabweans, both black and white, as they started off their careers in agriculture or whatever vocation they had chosen. Bob had integrity, ethics, morals and high standards all of which are in short supply in this day and age. He will be greatly missed by Jenny, their children, Nikki and Lloyd, nephew Jeremy and all their many friends from the farming community.

Hugh Thornycroft (Course 20)
Hugh Mytton Thornycroft was born in Harare 1950 into a family of five brothers being raised on the home farm Merryhill in the Wedza District. “Schooling was a mixed affair. We started out at St Michael’s Prep school then on to Hartmann House before entering St George’s College in Harare. This was short lived as four siblings at a private school became a bit much for the farm to carry so we were all shipped off to Umtali Boys High – which was a huge blessing as we all thrived there.
Verity and Hugh Thornycraft former student at Gwebi College of Agriculture“From school to work for Gavin Langham at Forrester estates in Centenary doing a year’s prep before entering Gwebi.
“Gwebi came and went all too quickly and it was into the army for a year’s National Service. I was selected to do the officers course – School of Infantry, Gwelo, but did not make the grade.
“After completing my year I wandered around the world for four years, starting in SA working on a pig farm, driving cranes in Durban Harbour and becoming a Fitter – all to earn money to go overseas. This I did by ship arriving in UK to land a position as Driver Courier for travel Company ‘Adventure International’ taking camping tours around Europe. All great fun and a good way to get to all countries on Europe including USSR!
“However duty called and I was requested to return and take over the running of the home farm – Merryhill. Growing tobacco, maize, pastures, timber and cattle. After three years of farming and fighting the bush war I called it quits and emigrated to the Argentine. A huge move but was fully occupied doing land clearing and crop establishment, growing soya beans, white beans and tobacco. This lasted three years and I felt the call of Africa and returned to SA where I joined up with Bernard Rhodes (ex-Principal of Gwebi!) and joined Shiloh Irrigation Scheme in the then Ciskei. A rebuild of the scheme doing dairy, lucerne and vegetables. There was a large amount of development which led me into the construction field later in life.
“I was head hunted to go and manage a Racehorse Stud Farm in the Natal Midlands called Invermooi Stud. We stood three stallions and developed up to 80 broodmares, their progeny and a breaking and spelling operation. There was also the production of eragrostis hay and the operation of a milling mixing plant for animal feed which I developed and ran.
“Having done this for twelve years I decided to get better qualified and went to the UCT Graduate School of Business PMD 44 and later a course in Project Management done by executive education.
“This led me into the world of Estate Development. Roads, water, power, golf courses, Architecture Panels and the operation of the Homeowners associations. I worked on Prince’s Grant (3 years) Zimbali Coastal Resort (3 years) and Palm Lakes(2 years.)
“Somewhere in that time I must have made an impression on my Project Management skills as I was contracted by the European Union to develop and operate a dairy plant in Uganda making yoghurt, ice cream, and pasteurised milk.
“I was then contracted to Bosch engineers to go and develop a 10,000ha irrigation scheme in Tanzania from virgin bush. The Estate was called Mtibwa Sugar and the development was Dakawa Ranch. It started with roads, housing, pumphouses, power supply and land clearing. Then the construction of major dams and the development of the irrigation scheme to planting and operation of the sugar cane crop. This went on for four years and was a terrific operation.
“Following on from that I was asked to go to a number of developments – Kilambero Tanzania in the construction of an Alcohol Distillery, Nakambala, Zambia in the construction of a number of upgrades to the Sugar Mill then Lusaka, Zambia operating a granite quarry and a housing development. All as an ex-pat and all great fun to be involved in.
“Then back to SA to the Eastern Cape to help a friend develop his three farms. Planning and installing irrigation schemes and establishing crops – Lucerne, cabbages, pastures and running a growing beef herd.
“And that brings me to the present where I am CEO and Director of an Engineering Consultancy (Design Point Consulting Engineers) operating mainly in the mining field but do carry out some designs in the water field of municipal supply and maintenance.
“I am happily married to Verity and have three children – all flown the nest. The eldest – Kent is married and living in the UK with two children. My daughter Lana is living in Sydney, Australia while my youngest son Blake lives in Hong Kong. My wife and I live in Beaulieu Estate in Midrand, Johannesburg.”

Cecil Tolmay (Course 20)
Cecil John Rhodes Tolmay has been sighted near Fitzroy Falls on the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia where he was farming.

William Alexander Torrie (Course 20).
Deceased 2021.

Brian van der Bank (Course 20)
Originally from Bulawayo, Brian was based in Howick, KZ-N, South Africa for Meadow Feeds after Gwebi and he was well respected in the dairy industry. He had spent time in the U.K. studying silage production. Brian was also an Honorary Game Ranger for the SA National Parks.
He married Lorraine and they have a son and two daughters. Brian loved coaching Rugby at the local high school.
Once his neighbour Alastair Paterson couldn’t start his car and Brian came along and asked for a hammer and proceeded to give the battery terminal a clap and the car started. His comment was “Remember what Fred Gilling taught us”.
Sadly Brian passed away from cancer 2020/2021.

Mike Venturas (Course 20)
Michael Anthony Philip Venturas has been involved in the tobacco industry and is living in Spain where his family has grown up.

Boetie York (Course 20) deceased
Noel Eric or ‘Boetie’, as he is known by everyone, lives in Bulawayo with his second wife Stella and is a man of many talents. Boetie and Stella York former student at Gwebi College of AgricultureHe is the go-to man for Matabelelanders with problems particularly in the agricultural sector. During the war he progressed through the ranks to Major with the Second Battalion, Rhodesia Regiment and after the war was often called upon to assist with tracking and follow-up on dissident gangs that attacked and murdered farmers or ranchers.
Boetie attended Plumtree School and is a dyed-in-the-wool Matabele boy and ranched on Circle Y in the Figtree farming district and moved for a while to Karoi. Since the land seizures and collapse of the Cold Storage Commission he has started his own abattoir, Mbokodo Abattoirs and Butcheries, on the outskirts of Bulawayo where besides selling beef he also exports hides. For several years Boetie was commuting between Bulawayo and Joburg where he has been receiving treatment for his cancer but passed away on 22nd May 2022.

Additional information to add to this page from family and friends is welcome. Please go to the Contact page.

Information and content has been supplied by other parties so no warranty (express or implied) is given to its completeness, accuracy or fitness for a particular purpose.

Return to Top of page and to Menus

©2022 Steve Bennett