Between the furrows
36 students enrolled with Course 17 in 1965.
12 were presented First Class Diplomas and 17 received Diplomas at Graduation Day in 1967. Full details are on this page, click here.
When news from Course 17 was posted in July 2019, it was considered that fourteen members may have passed away.
College photo 1966 with Courses 16 and 17
John R. Arkell
“I was born in Salisbury on 9th August 1946 and attended Springvale School in Marandellas and then Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town. After completing Matric in 1964 at Bishops, I was employed to do my pre Gwebi training with Es Micklem on Whaddon Chase farm in Umvukwes, after which I attend Gwebi Agricultural college with Course 17.
“ After graduating I was called up for National Service at the School of Infantry in Gwelo, passing out as a Second Lieutenant in November 1967. I then travelled to the UK with Stu Charlton and Pete Clark, both fellow students from Gwebi and The School of Infantry.
“On returning to Rhodesia in 1970 I joined my father on Fox Farm, the family farm of 990ha in Glendale and taking over the farm on the death of my parents in 1984.
“I married Deirdre McNulty in 1987 and have two step children Adam and Victoria.
“Fox was a mixed farm on the Mazoe River growing 200ha of seed and commercial cotton, 200ha of seed and commercial maize all under supplementary irrigation from the farm dam, Mazoe River and a Wenji dam allocation. We also had a 280 breeding herd of Tuli x Sussex beef cattle producing weaners for sale and a small Ayrshire dairy herd of fifty milking cows producing milk for local consumption in Chiweshe Reserve.
“In the early seventies, due to capital constraints minimum till was introduced with the last disced implement being used on the farm in 1984. This resulted in a huge reduction in production costs and improved yields and the awarding of the Dawson Trophy for conservation in 1994. “After being stopped from farming by the “fast track land reform” in 2000 we eventually left the farm in 2002 to go and live in Harare.
“On receiving our papers we immigrated to Bunbury in Western Australia in 2004 and bought into a fence manufacturing company to fulfil our visa requirements. We sold our share in the company in 2008 and I am still employed by them as the senior quoting/sales person. Jim M. Arrowsmith
“After leaving Peterhouse, I tried to join one of the big Tobacco Companies as a Learner Classifier on the Floors, but was told that I needed more practical experience on a Farm. Life in Salisbury was too good to give up at the time so I joined Government's Ministry of Agriculture for a while did my military service and eventually moved to Meadows Farm, Concession for my pre-Gwebi experience. Most of my school contemporaries had already completed Gwebi, namely Ollie Newton, Blondie Holden, Rich Harland and Derek Tomlinson to name a few.
“After College and being broke I went straight into work with David Smith on Little England , Nyabira as the Crop Assistant. In 1970 I married Elisabeth, and in 1971 we moved to the Bindura area to manage Glen Douglas for Roy Guthrie (Course 9) This was a Cattle breeding and Crop enterprise with Cotton the main crop. This was a very rewarding experience and Liz did a great job whilst I was off in the bush.
“In 1979 I leased Kwayedza, a crop farm in Glendale, eventually buying it in 1983. By participating in the construction of the adjacent Marodzi Dam there was plenty of water for irrigation but in 1989 I had to start diversifying into Citrus, eventually having 55 ha under drip irrigation. In 1994 my eldest son Garry joined me and set up a Rose project sending cut flowers to Europe. We were forced off the Farm by Tsitsi Gezi the Provincial Governor's woman who had her own armed militia. Previously she had been the wife of an assassinated Government Minister. We moved off the Farm in 2002 and emigrated to the UK in 2004. Here I purchased a domestic lawn-treating franchise which I ran until retiring two years ago.
“I sold my business here a couple of years ago and have been retired ever since.”
Dave P. Bashford. Deceased
David was born in Salisbury on the 8th September, 1946. After completing his schooling at St. George's College, David attended Gwebi Agricultural College with Course 17 where he graduated with a First Class Diploma and a Distinction in Practical. David was awarded the Campbell Shield for the best all round Second Year Student in Tobacco and was runner-up for the Romyn Cup and the Pfizer Prize for Livestock Judging.
After graduating Dave did his National Service with the Army followed by a period overseas, working for Goodwin’s Farmers’ Relief Service on various farming estates and learning about different methods of agriculture in the UK.
Upon returning to Rhodesia in the early seventies, he took over the family farm, St. Brendans, in the Karoi farming area, because his father, Pat Bashford, had become the leader of the opposition Centre Party and was based in Salisbury for much of the year. They grew tobacco and maize - the latter for home consumption and for fodder. Dave had a wonderful herd of Mashona cattle which was another source of income.
David later became Vice-Chairman of the Karoi North I.C.A. In 1975, David transferred his call-up commitment from the Army to the Police Reserve, and then followed this up by joining the local PATU section. Tragically David died from injuries received in an accident whilst on duty with PATU in Karoi. David, along with Warwick Lilford (C21) and Arnold Bathurst were in a pickup vehicle on the road between Karoi and Makuti, near the Vuti township turnoff, when they were sideswiped by a Swift pantechnicon on the 24th December, 1976. David was 30 years old and unmarried at the time of his death. He was buried in Karoi on 30 December.
Basil attended Ellis Robins School in Salisbury and once held the Rhodesian Schools swimming record for breast stroke. Basil was an accomplished sportsman and represented Gwebi at Hockey and Rugby. He went onto his Father’s farm at Bindura after College and was the Stick Leader in PATU in the late 70's. He married Grace from Bulawayo. He took over his brother-in-law Pete Starling's farm in Mtepatepa when Pete and his family were ambushed by terrorists and emigrated to America. Basil followed later and stayed in the USA for a few years. It is thought his visa probably ran out because he came back and farmed near Mazowe for a while. After that he returned to the USA and now lives in Plano, Texas.
Ant W. Baumann
Ant left Gwebi and went back to his parent’s farm in the Lalapanzi area. He married on 14th February 1970 in Fort Victoria. It is known that Ant became involved in politics whilst farming and stood unsuccessfully in the Selukwe Constituency for the Rhodesian Action Party against the Rhodesian Front candidate in the 1977 Elections. It would seem his parents emigrated to South America for a few years and then returned to Africa.
Rich A.R. Bedford
“I was born in Salisbury on the 30th May 1946 and was educated at Ruzawi, Peterhouse and Gwebi. From Gwebi I worked for my father the well known ‘JB’ of Poltimore Estates, Marandellas, a cattle enterprise growing a bit of maize to feed cattle. The main focus was a pedigree Sussex herd and a purebred but unregistered herd selling bulls. I remember when I started there that pedigree bulls were a 150 Guineas and grade bulls a 100 Pounds. We then graduated to Bull Sales on the farm conducted by Shapiro’s, the Cattle Auctioneers, with Scotty McDonald the first Auctioneer that I recall. How I loathed washing the bulls the day before the sale but the old man was justifiably proud of his cattle and wanted them to look their best. The top price we achieved was $5000, bought by Eric York of Figtree, a world record price for a Sussex.
“In 1974 I married Ngaere, a lovely lady from a Natal sugar farm and teacher by profession. I never wanted children and Ngaere accepted that, no doubt at great cost to her own wishes and well being. Sadly the wheels fell off that one in 1992 and we divorced. I then met a widow, Antoinette Schoultz and we married in 1995, the best thing that could have happened to me as she led me to become a born again baptised Christian. I have often read in Christian books that man has a void that he seeks to fill with cars, women, money, possessions but the only fulfilment is Jesus in one’s life. I guess I could be the poster-boy for the truth of that. I had such a fantastic life – a beautiful farm and lovely home, two new Mercedes in the garage, over 3000 head of cattle and a flourishing game park, and yet, I was not content. The contentment and joy came when I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life and has continued through the turmoil of losing the farms and so much else in the land invasions.
Because of my deafness I was exempted from the Army and therefore joined PATU and our part of the world remained relatively very quiet.
“I was mad keen on hunting and lived for the annual trip to the Zambezi or elsewhere. One outstanding hunt I had in July 1969 to Bumboosi in the Wankie area. The first buffalo I shot had a 46 inch spread, the next over 47 inches with a tremendous boss, a waterbuck over 33 inches and an elephant with 66 and 56 pound tusks.
“Norman Travers, not far from Poltimore, started his Imire game park in about 1971 and after a visit there a spark was struck to reintroduce wildlife to Poltimore where we only had duiker, steenbok, oribi and reedbuck. I did not expect it to be a roaring success with fences everywhere and competition with cattle. Was I ever wrong, and if my cattle were that fertile I would be a very wealthy farmer. Interestingly the sable to begin with did not shape, but once I started feeding them in winter they took off with 100% calf crop year after year. From 3 cows and a bull in 1973 and having sold 30 to 40 to South Africa there were about a 100 when the invading horde massacred them.
When the war closed the Zambezi hunting camps in 1977 I was fortunate to be introduced to Geoff Broom of Matetsi Safaris and I learnt a bit about the safari business conducting a few hunts for him in the game paradise of Matetsi. Whilst I had brought game onto Poltimore purely for my own pleasure, the time came when we could begin to offer hunts to foreigners as by then I had 12500 acres game fenced with access to many other farms particularly in the Lions Den area for big kudu. What a fascinating game that is, at least when one only has 3 or 4 hunts a year and not day after day for six months a year. Of course it was like shooting fish in a barrel but for first timers to Africa they were overwhelmed by the variety and abundance of game and lapped it up.
“Dad died in 1981 and the pedigree herd suffered as a result. I was never enchanted with pedigree breeding. When Mum died in 1986 I stopped breeding bulls and went entirely to cross breeding with Brahmans on Sussex cows and carrying everything through to slaughter, at the same time building up the numbers to ultimately, when the invasions started, 4500 head of cattle. Of those I had 1500 on a sort of CSC grazier scheme where I gave my surplus heifers to farmers who wanted to get into cattle but could not afford to. That, I believe, would have been a wonderful retirement plan but for the invasions. One of my graziers for instance paid me US$5000, in cash admittedly, for 200 head. We all went through the same mill there so I was lucky to get anything back.
“When the land invasions kicked off I believed Poltimore would be a prime target, bordering a TTL, on a good tar road and only 30kms from Marondera. I had another farm 20kms to the south and when my neighbour to that farm got a green card to the USA he offered me his farm on very favourable terms. Well I imagined that I might be able to escape notice in the backwoods and could still make a living on the two farms so I took it. My stepson was booted off his mother’s farm in Chivhu so he settled there and was followed not long thereafter by myself in April 2002 when the axe fell on Poltimore. We survived 16 months there before the storm hit that too and we moved to Marondera and bought a house out of town. I was able to move the cattle onto a black owned farm that I had leased previously.
“I looked around Mozambique and Zambia with the idea of farming there, meanwhile selling off the cattle to live on, until I realised decision time had come, the cattle were down to 200 odd. I bought Boran bulls from Forrester Estates in 2006 and began breeding again. Right now I am leasing three black owned farms and have just over 700 head, again carrying everything through to slaughter off the veld.
“So life is good and I am very happy to have been able to remain in Zimbabwe.”
R. Jim L. Bennett. Deceased.
Jim was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia to Herbert Kenneth and Caroline Isabel Bennett, farmers in the Barwick area of Rhodesia, on the 6th May, 1946. He was the younger brother of Kathleen (now Kathleen Berkau) and the older brother of Christopher (Tiff). He attended Ruzawi Primary school in Marandellas and then moved on to Falcon College in Essexvale, Bulawayo. He was always someone who preferred the outdoors to the confinement of four walls, Jim excelled at sports at Falcon, in his senior years being a member of the Athletics team, playing in the First Cricket XI and Captaining the Hockey First Team. Jim later went on to represent Rhodesia in this sport. Jim was also appointed Head of School in his sixth form year.
After high school Jim attended Gwebi Agricultural College where he gained his diploma in agriculture, also representing the College in Cricket and Hockey.
Jim graduated college and went to England for a "walkabout", where he worked a few different jobs including driving trucks from England to Scotland, fitting shelves in hospitals and warehouses, as well as working on several farms. He spent a few winters in Spain where he met a fellow Rhodesian, Janet (Jane) Duncan, whose father had been assistant District Commissioner in the Mvuma area. They became inseparable and after moving back to Rhodesia and a few years courting, they married in November 1974, and lived on Jim's family farm Holme Eden until 2002. In 1983 they had a son James (Jamie) and fifteen months later a daughter, Anthea.
In 2002, along with many other Zimbabwean commercial farmers, the Bennetts were forced off their farm and relocated to the town of Mvurwi and Jim took up the Manager's position at Rhimbick Sawmills. Jane passed away suddenly in 2007, and Jim remained in Mvurwi living near his brother until Jim also passed away unexpectedly on the 27th of April 2014.
Jim was always happiest outside and spent many hours in the bushveld, developing a keen appreciation of the natural world, a love he passed on to his children. He was always a quiet person happy with his own company, but enjoyed being with friends and family and used his quirky sense of humour to good effect. Being a farmer, Jim always had dogs around and after 2002 he was always seen around town with at least one of his two Labradors. Jim will always be remembered for his quick smile and quiet ways, and his willingness to help others whenever he could with as little fuss as possible.
Here is a short condolence note that was sent to Jim’s family after he passed away in 2014.
“I am writing on behalf of his friends from Gwebi Agricultural College who remember him with respect and fondness. Jim played Hockey and Cricket for Gwebi and everyone’s recollection of Jim was his fine sense of sportsmanship, his wonderful team ethic and, of course, his excellent skill at both games. Jim was always a fine ambassador for the College.”
John P. Berney
“I was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia September 1946. I went to St Michael’s Prep School, then Hartmann House and finally St George’s College. My pre Gwebi farm experience was on Rajke Fischer’s farm, “Wakefield Estates”, at Headlands.
“At Gwebi I was a keen sportsman representing the College at Cricket and Hockey.
“After leaving Gwebi College I did national service of 9 months which was spent between Gwelo and Wankie/Vic Falls. On completion of my army training I went farming first in Shamva doing mainly Cotton and Wheat, then to Glenara Estates learning all aspects of dairying, including wholesale and retail of the milk production on the farm.
“Armed with my limited knowledge of how Rhodesian Farms were managed I left for Australia and soon after landing in Sydney I secured a job, be it as a “worker”, at a cotton farm, approximately 300 miles north west of Sydney. What an eye opener. 2000 acres of flood irrigated cotton done with a workforce of ten, plus a foreman and the two owners who leased the land. I did work on another farm in the same area and the pay was very lucrative as the work was 24/7 and the machinery used was large and expensive and could not be left to stand idle.
“Using the money I earned, I hitch hiked around Australia and New Zealand quite extensively and saw most of the populated areas of both countries. However, I could not resist the pull of Africa and returned to Salisbury.
“I was employed by Cartwright Transport which was mainly for farmers in the Lomagundi area. I managed the Banket Depot. After three seasons with Cartwright I left and joined the Cotton Marketing Authority in a management role. During the time I was with them I was based firstly at Glendale, then Shamva and finally at Hartley.
“On my return to Rhodesia I was able to get back to my beloved cricket and played for several rural district clubs and met many members of the Mashonaland agricultural community. During this period I met and married Meg Mathew and we have a son and daughter who in 1978 were coming up to school age. The political uncertainty, the frequency and length of call-ups, and inconsistency with whom I would be serving was very upsetting for the family. We migrated to Britain where I have a brother - which helped.
“Since being in Britain I have drawn on my farming skills and worked for a very large family owned company and ended up managing one of their five piggeries. After 20 years the company sold the pig business and the new owner no longer required my services as he was going to manage it himself. I then went to work in a Supermarket for a few years but unfortunately developed chronic arthritis and was unable to work so retired and used the spare time to improve my computer skills and develop our garden.
“My wife and I divorced after fifteen years of marriage. I then spent several years on my own with the children. The children have both had a well-grounded education and my daughter teaches at a secondary school in London. I have three very active and sporty grandsons.
“I met and married a lovely women, Steph. We have now been together twenty-four years. She has three delightful adult children and six grandchildren. We live in the south of England and apart from working in the garden where we grow our own vegetables and have a few fruit trees, we like to travel and get away and explore this lovely country and sometimes go further afield.
“All my life I have always considered myself very lucky and privileged in my work and travel and the Rhodesian grounding has always stood me in good stead.”
Jim W. Beveridge. Deceased
Jim was killed in a vehicle accident close to Norton not long after graduating.
G. John Brebner
John was born to Nan and Gerald Brebner in Bulawayo 21 September 1947. He grew up in Bulawayo and schooled at Henry Low Junior School, going on to Hamilton High School where he completed his M levels. He did his pre-Gwebi training with Marion Rankin who was a dairy farmer in the Nyamandhlovu area and with Reg White on a tobacco farm at Palm Block, Mvurwi.
After completing Gwebi, John did his nine months’ National Service in the army and fortuitously, after a few days, he got chosen to do the Officers Training Course in Gweru – not through any desire to become a commissioned officer but it was a pleasure to see out his training away from Llewellin Barracks! National Service call ups in the army continued for a further five to six years before John transferred out to the Police Reserve to continue call-up commitments.
Once military training was out of the way, John worked in the Esigodini area for Stella Coulson until such time as her son, Alistair, had completed his Gwebi training and was able to take up the reins. John lived out at Nhlangano Ranch in the Balla Balla area and during a badminton evening at the Esigodini club, he met Jenny who, much later, was to become his wife. Jennifer was the daughter of Rita and Mort Poultney – Mort being a prominent rancher in Balla Balla. They married at St Stephens Chapel in January 1974 and their first home was at Riversbank Ranch in the Queens Mine area where John was then working for Joe Goode. Shortly before their first daughter was born, they moved house to Waterfalls Ranch also near Queens Mine. Bridget Nan was born in February 1977.
1978 saw John taking up a position with Lonrho. The family spent nine months at Mvuma on Central Estates while John learned the ropes in order to take over the Umgusa Group of ranches back in the Lonely Mine/Umgusa/Nyamandhlovu area. While at Mvuma, their second daughter, Carolyn Rita was born in February 1979. Braemar Ranch was home for the next few years with continuing problems, mainly due to the dissident element after independence was declared. Several horrendous and tragic incidents saw Lonrho making the decision to close down Umgusa Group and the family eventually relocated to Bulawayo during 1984. It was always assumed that another ranching/farming job would present itself elsewhere in the country but it was not to be and so they became city slickers. Burnside has been home ever since!
John’s first job with H E Jackson was not satisfactory or stimulating and it was with some relief that he started work in 1989 with Acol Chemical where he has been for the last thirty years. Once the girls were at school, schooling at the Bulawayo Dominican Convent, Jenny was offered a temporary job as the secretary for the high school there, ending up being the bursar for both schools for the next twenty two years. 2008 put paid to anyone trying to understand financial or money matters in this country and Jenny called it a day in December. She has since being “doing nothing” and is “a lady of leisure” (as everyone is quick to tell her). However, Jenny manages to keep herself busy with all manner of projects. John still has a mens’ four tennis game on a Monday evening, he used to play golf but has largely given that up and he is passionate about mowing the acres of lawn in the garden, which he refers to as his ‘recreation’ – when he’s not watching sport on the TV!
Sadly, as it is with most families in Zimbabwe, both their children are now residing outside the country, having settled in the UK. Bridget married a local yokel, Robert Dale and they have two sons and live in Carshalton, London. Carolyn chose a true blue Oxford lad, Thomas Harris, and they live in Cumnor near Oxford.
Both John and Jenny derive much pleasure from their “bush” and wildlife forays, belonging to BLZ (BirdLife Zimbabwe), MCS (Matobo Conservation Society), WEZ and are Friends of the Museum. For many years John was involved with WEZ (Wildlife and Environment of Zimbabwe) taking on the role of Hwange water project co-ordinator on the committee but due to many constraints, he gave that up and instead was invited to become a trustee of FOH (Friends of Hwange Trust), working closely with David Dell. John gets much more pleasure and satisfaction from this involvement and he and Jenny try to get up to Hwange as much as possible. John has taken over the reins of co-ordinating the annual black eagle breeding survey in the Matobo Hills. This is an amazing survey that has now run for over fifty years. While at times frustrating, it is a fascinating project to be involved with and each season brings with it new challenges and surprises. It also means John and Jenny have to make MANY trips out to Matopos during the survey months, which usually runs from April through to October, but that is always a pleasure!
Peter L.D. Bridges, aka “Flash”. Deceased.
Peter came from the well-known Bridges family who owned Devuli Ranch in the Rhodesian Lowveld. Peter was the son of Walter Despard ‘Boof’ Bridges and returned to Devuli after graduating. Peter never married and was unwell for many years which sadly resulted in his death on the 28th April, 2005.
Alan D.P. Burl
“I was born on the 12th February 1947 in Salisbury (now Harare) and I grew up on our Family farm, Mushangwe, 26 km south of Marondera. My Father had purchased the farm in 1952. I attended junior school at REPS in the Matopos from 1955 to 1959 ending up as Head Boy and Rugby and Swimming captain. Those 5 years were wonderful and still have many friends from those school days. Wonderful train trips from Marondera to Bulawayo and back each term.
“Senior school was nearer to home at Peterhouse which had just opened a few years earlier outside Marondera. Again a very enjoyable time with friends still today. I left after passing O levels ( Gwebi only required O levels so that was enough). Represented the school First teams in Rugby, Hockey, Athletics, and Squash. Was a school prefect in my final year.
“Post senior school did my pre Gwebi practical under Mr. Peter Gilpin on Dollanstown farm where he was one of the leading Hereford producers in the country. This was not far from where Rich Bedford also C17 and Pete Newby-Varty C13 also had farms. Played Rugby for Marondera 1st XV in those days in the super league.
“Gwebi, from 1965 to 1967 were two fantastic years with incredible chaps there, and memories to last a lifetime. Finished as Student Chairman and received a First Class Diploma with 5 distinctions being Engineering, Field Husbandry, Animal Husbandry, Farm Management, and Practical. Represented the college at Rugby, Cricket and Squash. Diploma day received the following awards: The Farmers Weekly Medal, The Rawson Shield, The Caltex Plaque and The Rhodesian Farmer Prize for the Best All Round Student of the Second Year. The Lilford Medal for Leadership and Example, The Farmers Co-op Prize for the Animal Husbandry Project, The Lord Acton Prize for Animal Husbandry jointly won with Rich Bedford, Tony Baumann, Benj Henson, Pete Froggatt and Clive O’Reilly as well as The Natural Resources Board Trophy for Farm Building and Planning Project.
Post Gwebi went straight into military call up for 9 months. Served in the Royal Corps of Engineers which changed to the Rhodesian Corps of Engineers. Initially with No1 Squadron, Bulawayo, then to No. 2 Engineer Squadron, Salisbury. Our vintage caught the war almost from its start right through to the end in 1980. 13 frustrating years of being a part farmer, part soldier. Very sad to know just how many of our Gwebi men lost their lives in that period.
From 1968 onwards I farmed with my Father between military call ups, which worked well as he was the Cold Storage Commission Chairman at the time so one could be away when the other was on the farm.
“I married Helen Rae Truman on 7th February 1970, and have just gone past our 48th wedding anniversary. We had two sons, Brendon born 1971, and Stuart born 1973. Sadly we lost Brendon in a motor car accident in 2006. He was a commercial pilot for 16 years flying corporate jets. He also served in Somalia flying for the United Nations up to the time America pulled out after the Black Hawk down scene.
“I was for a number of years early 1980’s Chairman of the Marondera Farmers’ Association, followed by being elected onto the Commercial Farmers’ Union Board as a Branch Chairman, then elected as Vice President of the Union for 2 years followed by being CFU President for 2 years during the time when there were still in the region of 4800 commercial farmers in Zimbabwe. Agriculture was the main driver of the economy in those years 1980 to 2000.
“Fast Track land resettlement took place from 2000 onwards which was politically driven and saw a massive collapse of the Zimbabwe economy, such that our currency was abandoned in 2008 due to hyperinflation rendering it worthless. We were evicted from our farm in 2002 exactly 50 years after having purchased it. We farmed Tobacco, Maize, Paprika, Citrus, Cattle and Pigs. Compensation for the loss is still not paid although there is a constitutional requirement for it to be done. We sit along with thousands of other farmers in the same situation.
“Our son Stuart, a Blackfordby graduate, who was also removed from his farm at around the same time as us is back farming on a farm he leases from an indigenous farmer who had purchased a farm around 1990. Helen and I moved into town (Marondera) once off the farm and keep ourselves busy where I have a building business, and Helen is assistant accountant at Borradaile Trust retirement village in the town. I was the Chairman of Borradaile Trust for a period of 8 exciting years as we went through the currency collapse and had to keep the place going for the 150 odd residents, many of whom lost their life savings, pensions, insurance policies and cash all at the same time.
“In conclusion we are surrounded by many wonderful people, have 5 lovely grandchildren, from our 2 super daughter in laws, and a son who is a diligent, hardworking farmer. Much of the work I do today throws back to things we learned at Gwebi and in the military engineers never knowing long back that we would be forced out of farming by politics.”
Stuart D. Charlton.
“I was born in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, on the 9th March, 1947 and attended David Livingstone Primary School in Livingstone before moving on to Falcon College at Essexvale, Rhodesia.
“I enrolled at Gwebi 1965, with C17 just before UDI and graduated two years later with a First Class Diploma and a Distinction in Farm Management. After Gwebi I went straight into the conscripted army for a nine month call-up, emerging as a 2nd Lieutenant from the School of Infantry in Gwelo.
“I then spent about two years working and hitch hiking in England, Europe, Canada, USA and South America ending up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From there I returned to Bulawayo where my parents and sister now lived.
“My first job was as the livestock manager on Handley Cross Farm, Chakari, for C.G. Tracey – a well-known and respected farmer and businessman. I managed his large piggery and Charolais cattle enterprise.
“While on Handley Cross I met Deanne Mennell, from Bulawayo, and we later married and our first daughter was born in 1974 while we were still with C.G. Tracey.
“I wanted my own farm and so bought a 1000 acre block, “Zawanda”, in the Gatooma area in late 1974. We left C.G. Tracey and moved onto the farm with our small herd of sheep. I got a job with the Farmer’s Co-Op to make ends meet.
“We then decided to sell “Zawanda” and move to Matabeleland. I got a job on Phil Williams’ farm in Turk Mine and here our second daughter was born whilst we were there.
“Very shortly after her birth we bought “Hope Valley Farm” from Cecil Wolhuter – a 200 sow piggery in the Kensington area outside Bulawayo. We mainly supplied baconers to Colcom although we found the Colcom quota system very challenging.
“Army call-ups became more and more frequent and I ended up as Company Commander with the rank of Captain/Acting Major.
“After Independence we continued farming on Hope Valley Farm but, after 13 years, at the end of 1989, we sold up and moved to Australia where Deanne’s family had settled.
“I decided not to try farming in Australia and started a steel fabrication business in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland – just north of Brisbane. We sold it after 10 years and I took on the “Care Pastor” role at our Church in Woombye, Sunshine Coast, where, for the next 10 years, I developed the small emergency relief office and shop into a large food rescue and low cost food outlet in our area.
“We were also involved in Family Foundations International, Australia and were the Australian National leaders for eighteen years before handing the ministry office over in 2018. We are still involved at a leadership level and continue to run “The Ancient Paths” seminars in Queensland.
“I retired from Suncoast Christian Care close to my 70th birthday and since then have put my heart into building a small organic market garden and chicken enterprise – mostly just to be self-sufficient and eat healthy organic produce for ourselves and our family in the area.
“As I look back now I remember very clearly, at Gwebi, Allan Savory coming and lecturing us on his concept of the intensive grazing of livestock. It was revolutionary at that time and very few of the students or lecturers thought it was at all practical. The conventional system of farming was the acceptable “norm” and “best practice” then. Now, as regenerative agriculture is becoming acceptable in many parts of the world, I am learning anew how to farm in a radically new way. Allan Savory is now 83 and has become a worldwide celebrity, lecturing and teaching on his system – the system that I rejected back in 1965/66!! Praise God for YouTube where I can listen to Allan Savory and continue my education into my 70’s!!"
Pete A.M. Clark. Deceased.
Peter was born in Salisbury on the 23rd September, 1946. He spent his early childhood on Gilnockie Farm in the Arcturus district. In his early schooling days he would ride his horse across country as the crow flies from Gilnockie to Goromonzi Club where school was held. Pete’s senior school was Falcon College and he attended Gwebi Agricultural College with Course 17 in 1965. Peter graduated with a Diploma in 1966 and was awarded the Barrett Shield for Proficiency in Clean Milk Production.
He did his National Service and was commissioned as an Officer in the Rhodesian Army in 1967 as Second Lieutenant in the Rhodesian Defence Regiment and he later went onto hold the rank of Captain.
In 1968 Pete managed to fit in some time in the UK where he met up with his friends from Gwebi and did the usual carousing in Earls Court, London.
He started his farming in Marondera working for the Kay family. Later he moved to Mount Hampden working for Rob and Libby Davenport. In the early seventies, he went out on his own and took over the family farm in Arcturus. His father, Douglas Clark, had always had a vision of gravity irrigation on Gilnockie Farm and Peter fulfilled his father’s farsightedness by constructing a small weir and narrow canals down the granite rocks into a reservoir. Peter then built a large gravity dam and laid underground irrigation pipes to irrigate 300 hectares across the farm.
Gilnockie Farm was situated before Arcturus Village and the Lonrho Gold Mine and Pete served on the Arcturus Rural Council Board and Water Board. Like many farmers he teamed up with local farmers and was active in helping to maintain the grounds of the Arcturus Rural Council School. In the early days, the Clark family frequented the Mine club for children’s Christmas parties and tennis. Peter then graduated to the bar where he excelled in snooker and darts! Peter built Arcturus Butchery in the heart of the village and befriended members of all the small business and butchery outlets in the rural areas. In the early nineties along with other local farmers he was instrumental in the building of Ariel School in Ruwa and served on the board for many years.
After being a casualty of the Land reform in 2002 he found himself working in Harare finding himself using different skills in many different jobs and meeting new and interesting people.
Pete died on the 26th December 2012 and is survived by his first wife, Sheila and their two children, Brett and Ashleigh, and his second wife, Ann and their two children Bradley and Sarah.
Pat N. Clothier. Deceased.
Pat was born in Lusaka but brought up in Salisbury with his siblings, Richard and Gillian. He attended Borrowdale Junior School and Peterhouse for his senior schooling. After graduating from Gwebi in 1967 where he was awarded the Fertilizer Industry Prize for the Farm Project and joint winner of the Johnson Prize for the Engineering Project. Pat fulfilled his military commitment in the Army, firstly with the Infantry and then transferred to Engineers and then to 4RR in Manicaland and ultimately to PATU.
In 1967 Pat and his father bought a coffee farm in Melsetter, which besides the coffee and processing plant, diversified into growing Maize, Napier Fodder, Youngberries, Pineapples, Guavas and Granadillas and then built a canning factory where much of his fruit was exported to South Africa for the yoghurt market.
In 1970 Pat married Sue Green from Chipinga, sister of Mike Green who was C17 at Gwebi with Pat. Tony, their first son, was born in 1971, Julie in 1973 and Bruce in 1975.
Pat was a very knowledgeable herpetologist so was the 'go to' person for anyone needing a snake removing (killing was forbidden), and he had a pit on the farm where he would temporarily house rescued or damaged snakes until they had recovered enough to take back to the wild. He was a 'Bundu' man through and through with a great knowledge of the bush, animals and birds but also a great fisherman.
By the mid-seventies, with Melsetter being so close to the Mozambique border, the terrorist incursions intensified and security for the Clothier family became extremely difficult with many of their friends and neighbours killed in ambushes, landmines and homestead attacks. Adding to the strain on the family were the constant call-ups that Pat had to undertake, both for PATU and secondment to the Engineers for the dismantling of booby traps and other explosive devices.
Finally in 1983, having seen out the bush war on the Eastern border, Pat sold the farm and moved with his family to Harare where he took up a position as a lecturer at Blackfordby for eight years. Pat enjoyed this work and by all accounts he was a successful and popular member of staff.
By 1991 the Clothiers made the decision to move to South Africa where they settled in Pietermaritzburg and Pat was employed by Gromed in a small town called Cramond, not far from PMB, where he managed a factory which converted pine bark to a growing medium for seedlings. This was a very successful process resulting in the export of this product overseas.
Pat was hugely concerned about the 'abuse' of the planet and, particularly in South Africa, wrote frequently to environmental agencies with regard to the lack of stream bank regulation. He also had a great love of fishing and, in line with his beliefs, he would only fly fish in his latter years and wound his own flies, with great success, for that purpose.
Sadly Pat passed away in Pietermaritzburg on the 27th March, 1996 from cancer at the relatively young age of 49.
Wilfred A. Collen
Wilf was a keen Tennis player and represented the College in this sport. He came from Nega Nega in Zambia but is now living in South Africa and worked in Real Estate for ten years. He and his partner now run a guest house.
A.M.G. Conybeare, “Drew”
Drew was born in Scotland on 3rd December 1944 and came to Rhodesia in 1957 with his parents after they had spent time in Portugal, Egypt and the Sudan. In Salisbury he attended St. George's College until 1962. The family moved to Northern Rhodesia in 1960 and he did another year at Gilbert Rennie High School in Lusaka.
Drew got his pre Gwebi experience as a tobacco assistant in Kalomo and Mkushi before joining Course 17 at Gwebi College. He was awarded the Imperial Tobacco Company Shield and the Fertilizer Industry Bursary for Best All round student of the First Year, the Fertilizer Industry Prize for Agricultural Science and the Shell Prize for Engineering. He graduated with a First Class Diploma.
Drew joined the RNFU as Assistant Crops Secretary for a year before joining the Department of National Parks and Wild Life Management where he worked for 25 years. In 1974 he took unpaid study leave and enrolled as a student at the University of Rhodesia, graduating in 1976 with a B.Sc. Hons. First Class in Botany and Zoology. He then returned to National Parks and in 1992 obtained a D.Phil. for work on elephant/habitat relationships in Hwange National Park. Drew had obtained his Private Pilot’s Licence which was of great help in his research work with elephant.
Drew married Barbie in 1969 and they had two sons, Allan and Michael, but separated in 1992. Drew moved to Victoria Falls in 2006 where he still lives doing wildlife consultancy work.
Nigel A.P. Dodman. Deceased.
Nigel was brought up in Bulawayo and his parents owned Thelwall Shell Garage opposite the Agricultural Showgrounds down from Gifford School and his older brother Jeremy managed the Garage.
Nigel married Margie Perkins, who was a nurse and they met when she was training at Bulawayo General. They had two sons, Paul, married and lives in the UK, and Craig who lives in Australia.
They farmed at Figtree milking Jersey cows and irrigated maize for silage. Nigel sold the farm and moved to Liwondi Farm, Goromonzi where they continued milking their Jerseys and grew tobacco successfully as well as maize for silage and grain to feed their dairy herd.
Nigel passed away several years ago and Margie now lives in Queensland, Australia.
Robbie K. Fletcher. Deceased.
Robert Kenneth Fletcher was born in Que Que on March 7th 1946, to Ella Fletcher and Robert Kenneth Fletcher, known as Kenneth. He was the youngest of five children - two half sisters, Pattie and Roslie, and two full sisters, Winkie and Raye. Robbie’s Paternal Grandparents came up to this country even before it was called Southern Rhodesia, with one of the great treks - Robbie's father, so the story goes, was born on the banks of the Orange River - there was always some debate about his actual birth date even though his birth was recorded in the front of the family bible. Robbie and his Father belonged to the Pioneer Society of Southern Rhodesia.
Robbie was home schooled until Standard 5 and he then attended Que-Que High School. His best friend throughout his school days and adulthood was Joe Hossell and together they were great pranksters and were considered delinquents. Another one of his other very good friends was Trevor Cross who now also lives in Australia.
After completing school Robbie went straight to Gwebi College with Course 17 and graduated in 1967. As with all the rest of C17 he fulfilled his military call-up and volunteered for the Rhodesian Corps of Engineers and was posted to Nos. 1 Combat Engineers Squadron and was called up every six weeks for six weeks at a time throughout the war years.
After Gwebi he came home and worked on his father's farm - Haven Estate outside Que-Que along the Que-Que river on the Gokwe road.
He ran his father's gold mine called Primrose and opened his own gold mine called BD with a partner Ted Annadale. Both mines were in the Gaika area close to the famous Globe & Phoenix mine - he also had other mining interests near Bulawayo.
Robbie married Terry Moffitt, the girl who lived on the next door farm, on the 15th of June 1973, and had three sons - Robert Kenneth, known as Kenneth, born 11th January, 1978, Raymond Alexander, born 23rd January, 1980 and Rory James, born 21st December, 1981.
Robbie gradually mechanised Haven Estate, all the mines he ran, and the Moffitt farm next door which was called Mimosa Park which he also managed. Mimosa Park, although much smaller than Haven Estate, was also a mixed farm with a breeding beef herd, a small dairy herd, poultry, sheep, pigs, horses, crops for the animals and food for the labourers and homestead. On a larger scale on Haven Estate Robbie grew irrigated wheat, maize and commercial vegetables and bred beef cattle and goats. Robbie’s mother ran a substantial poultry concern which supplied much of Redcliff and Que-Que’s demand for eggs.
Part of the Fletcher farms that grew the irrigated wheat was appropriated by the new regime soon after independence and Robbie, Terry and their three boys, seeing the writing on the wall, emigrated to South Africa on the 1st August, 1982.
Whereabouts unknown but after graduating with a First Class Diploma and a Distinction in Farm Management Peter fulfilled his military commitment and was selected for leadership training at the School of Infantry in Gwelo. Later he was working for the Rhodesian Wattle Company in the Eastern Districts during our bush war.
Mike L. Green.
After graduating, Mike completed National Service in the Army and trained in Infantry then Sappers. He purchased Dwoli Farm near Chipinga for coffee and tea production but severe frost damaged the coffee crop In 1973 Mike took up the position of Farm Manager on Eryl Farm in Centenary and married Sheila Hawkings from Norton. Travels to the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand saw a return to Rhodesia in 1977. Mike joined the poultry enterprise called Webbs Country Foods in Dorset, UK. His son Douglas was born in 1982 and Keith followed. He was moved to Sway in New Forest with Webbs but the company was sold in 2001. He joined a poultry import business called Crown Foods for five years. After completing a contract with Chitty Foods, a beef production company, Mike retired in 2006. He has taken on numerous interests including conservation work, various charitable and volunteer activities, beekeeping, butterfly recording, sailing, woodturning, running an allotment.
“My family came from Somabhula originally and I attended Milton High School in Bulawayo. Denise and I retired just over four years ago and live down the South Coast of Kwazulu Natal, about 12 kilometres North of Port Shepstone, in a little village called Sunwich Port. We left Zimbabwe in 1980, then in Pietersburg for 7 years, and then in Greytown with Pioneer Seed, now called Pidelta, for 23 years and sadly we have lost touch with a lot of family and where they all went to when they left.
“We have three daughters Tabitha, Tessa and Tanya, and four grandsons. My elder daughter Tabitha is not married and lives in Louis Trichardt. Tessa married Rob Ribeiro, also a former Zimbabwean, and they have three sons, they live just down the road. My youngest Tanya has one son and she lives in Kenya with her husband Kevin Hutton from Pietermaritzburg. We have visited them in Nairobi and what an eye opener, no road rules at all, but we spent a week in the Maasai Mara and had a fantastic time.
”I fish from the beach most mornings and I thoroughly enjoy it. I also try to keep fit walking up and down the hills and I also farm-sit quite a lot in Winterton which keeps me busy. Other than that, we enjoy the quiet life. I try to get to Zim once a year to see Denise’s Uncle in Bulawayo and Noel ‘Boet ‘York from C20, and go fishing at Olive Beadle or surrounds, but haven’t been for over a year now.
A.W. Hawkes, “Tony” aka "Tsoko".
“When I finished college I did an AI course with Animal Breeders before going overseas to the UK.
“There I worked at Penatock Herefords, Hay-on-Wye, Wales.
“There was a Foot and Mouth outbreak when I was there, not on the farm that I was working on, but nationally and thousand of livestock were slaughtered, both sheep and cattle. The first country to accept cattle from the UK when the outbreak was clear was South Africa and I looked after the first exports to RSA which were Herefords for Quinton Smith of Val, Transvaal. The ship was the Southampton Castle and we offloaded the cattle at Durban.
“I returned to Rhodesia, and was introduced to Sheila my wife-to-be through my sister at the Nurses’ Home.
“I worked for my Father on Collace in Wedza for a season, played rugby for Marandellas club with Alan Burl. I then worked for the Grain Marketing Board for a while
“I worked for George Whaley on Msasa Estates Beatrice for a season, and got married that same year.
“We returned to Lizziesdale at Marandellas with my father but with call-ups increasing I ended up working on the Agronomy section at Grasslands Research Station. With two children, Tracy and Glynn, we emigrated to the UK.
“Worked for the Orpington Council driving a tractor mowing fields and carting garden rubbish. Returning to Zimbabwe in 1981 I worked for Allan Wiliamson on Manengas, Lions Den doing the cattle before moving onto Highbury Estates, Lions Den/Mangula for four years as cattle manager. Then on to Mangula for Pete Viljoen.
“From there I ended up with Rumevite as the dairy feed rep. I was sales manager for Speciality Animal Feed Company in Harare.
“Eventually going across to Agricura as their livestock rep. and ending as Technical Manager Livestock.
“A short spell at Millborrow, going to Botswana on a feed lot and animal feed factory for a few years followed by butchery work back in Zimbabwe and I’m now working for N. Tselentis as the Dispatch Manager."
Eugene’s whereabouts are unknown but he is presumed to be in the United States. His father, an American, had been posted to Rhodesia before UDI. Eugene enrolled at Gwebi but failed his First Year so, as an American, he was drafted into the American Navy for service in Vietnam. This marked the end of any contact with Course 17.
Miles R. Johnson
“I was born in Bulawayo in 1946. I have a twin brother Tim who still lives in Harare where he, after graduating from Rhodes University, initially joined the family business Johnson and Fletcher and subsequently became CEO of Astra Corporation and the local director of the Beit Trust. My eldest brother Peter died a few years ago but my second brother Anthony lives in Botswana where he has a game farm near Francistown.
“I was at Falcon College with Jim Bennett and Stu Charlton. Jim was Head Boy in our final year and Stu was in George Grey House with me. I seem to remember Stu grew up in Livingstone.
“I did about six months with Frank Parkes at Mazoe before going to Gwebi, a further six months on a large estate in Buckinghamshire in the UK and a couple of years with Meikles Ranches at Shangani under David Tredgold. On David’s advice and encouragement I left Meikles to go the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg where I graduated in 1974.
“After leaving University I purchased a small farm at Lions River outside Howick where I developed a 400 sow piggery and ran an intensive beef herd on pastures fertilized from the pigs. I became a director of Eskort Bacon Coop in 1986 and retired from the board as Vice Chairman in 2001. I sold the Lions River farm in the 1999. During the time of active farming I served on the Council of the Natal Agricultural Union and also as a Director and Chairman of the local farming supply company.
“I officially emigrated to South Africa in 1974 so had no further military commitment in Rhodesia but did become involved in the local Howick Commando Unit where my Llewellin Barracks training was put to good use.
“I have three children by my first wife. My eldest daughter is married and lives in London, my son is with Anglo American and currently working in South America, and my younger daughter lives and works in Pietermaritzburg.
“I remarried in 2000 and went to live in the UK for four years, returning to Natal in 2005 when the marriage dissolved. Since then I have been effectively retired but still very active.
“In the early 1980’s I fulfilled a long term desire and learned to fly, progressing from a PPL to a commercial licence. The commercial licence enabled me to be employed as a part time and standby pilot for the Natal Parks Board for whom I did a lot of flying and as I maintain my commercial licence I still do the occasional flight for KwaZulu Parks. I own a Cessna 210 aircraft in which I fly all over Southern Africa with friends and family, visiting Kariba, the Zambezi, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia. The aircraft enables me to pursue my enjoyment of the outdoors, fishing, shooting and game viewing and visiting friends and family in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa.
“Of interest, and as a beside, I had an Uncle Miles Johnson who was killed just before the end of the Second World War. He was a Wing Commander and Squadron Leader of 237 Rhodesian Squadron. He flew with Alan Burl’s father. They were shot down in North Africa, Miles broke his leg in the crash and had to walk for several days assisted by Alan’s father until they found a friendly village. A nice coincidence that we should have ended up at Gwebi together.”
A.D. Kee, “Tony”.
Tony’s family owned the well-known Chinese Restaurant, The Bamboo Inn, on Manica Road in Salisbury. Tony told us that he was sent to Gwebi so that he could learn to grow the vegetables and livestock needed for the voluminous menu at this famous eating place.
He was horrified and overwhelmed by the initiation meted out by C16 and fled back to Salisbury after the first night, explaining to his family that the fan kuei or foreign devils out at the College were quite mad! However one of his fellow students followed him in and persuaded him to return to Gwebi which he did most reluctantly. Having overcome that obstacle not only did Tony settle in and graduate but he became the main money lender amongst his fellow students, a most important role at the College. It is known that Tony continued to hold the firm belief that many Gwebi students were slightly unhinged.
Tony’s oldest brother, George Kee, who owned the Bamboo Inn, was brutally murdered on the premises by being strangled with his own tie and under mysterious circumstances in 1999. This famous eating house never reopened in Manica Road after this tragedy. However, the restaurant did open under the same name some fifteen years later on College Road in Alexandra Park, Harare under the management of yet another brother, Greg Kee, but only lasted for a few years before closing down again. It is thought that the remainder of the family, including Tony, had already emigrated to Canada after the murder of George.
J.S. Martin, “Marty”. Deceased
Marty was born in Pretoria, South Africa and came to Rhodesia as a young boy with his parents and two sisters. He was educated at St. Thomas Aquinas in Bulawayo and St. George’s College in Salisbury where he excelled in Rugby. On completing senior school and much against his wishes he enrolled at the Pietermaritzburg campus of Natal University to study for a degree in Engineering but withdrew before completing his first year. Unknown to his parents he then enrolled himself at Gwebi which was more to his liking and more suited to his future career plans. He completed his pre-Gwebi practical training with the Smythe family on Liston Shiels Farm in the Sinoia area.
Marty entered Gwebi as a member of Course 17 and thoroughly enjoyed the ethos of the College where he was awarded the prize for Practical Engineering. After graduating from Gwebi he joined a group of Gwebi friends in the UK, namely Rob Beaton, Greg Tams, Colin Lowe and Brian du Preez. He worked on the oil rigs in the North Sea and West Africa with Colin, and together they also travelled much of Europe and Israel. Marty was soon a committed oil man and spent several years taking up contracts in West Africa, the Caribbean, the United States and the Far East. Although this lifestyle was very well paid his interest eventually waned and he yearned to get back into farming in Africa. After he completed his last contract in Indonesia, and after an incident filled and adventurous overland journey across India and boat trip to Mombasa, he settled in Zambia. He initially worked on Wangwa Farm, north of Lusaka which was owned by Bruce Landless, C8 at Gwebi, where he met and married Christine Garner in the early seventies. He then took a job with Water Valley Farm near Mazabuka which was owned by Geoff Godson, C12 at Gwebi. In 1977 Christine persuaded Marty to join her father on Hagiar Kim Farm, also near Mazabuka, where they grew sugar cane and coffee under irrigation. By this stage they had two daughters, Camille and Shar. Marty managed the Garner family sugar cane farm and, after Christine’s parents passed away, owning it in partnership with other members of the family. Marty further expanded the family’s farming operations by purchasing a cattle and crop farm some distance away and then a Banana Farm on the Zambezi River.
In 1998 Marty was diagnosed with cancer and so started a lengthy and courageous rear guard defence against this disease. Although all the farming operations had been sold, Marty and Chris continued to live in their home amongst the community they had come to know so well. Marty, besides being a successful farmer, was a well respected business man and sat on the boards of several commercial companies as well as the Board of Governors of Musikili, a well known private school, built on the farm which the family had donated the land.
Sadly Marty succumbed to his illness in 2013.
Doug L. Mouritzen, aka ‘Shavulu’. Deceased.
Doug was born in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia. He was educated at Lusaka Boys’ Primary School and Gilbert Rennie High School. On completing his education he worked on the family farm Kasamu Kalamfu, and later at Sanje for a year. Doug then enrolled at Gwebi Agricultural College with Course 17.
Doug enjoyed his time at Gwebi, participating and enjoying his rugby. He was awarded the Wightman Cup for Poultry Husbandry in his First Year, although he detested chickens! On graduating Doug was awarded a First Class Diploma with Distinctions in Farm Management, Engineering and Practical. Whilst at Gwebi, Doug met his future wife, Barbara Anne Bradbury who he married in 1968 after graduating from the College.
Doug worked back at the family farm for a short while and then moved to Mazabuka where he worked on Mendham Farm for Roan Selection Trust to gain experience. After a few years, Doug went on his own where he rented land in Mazabuka from Bevis Coventry where he grew maize. He also farmed beef cattle on a share basis with Sandy Ritch.
In 1974, Doug and Barbara Anne moved back to the family farm in Lusaka, where they farmed beef cattle and row crops. In the 1981 July and August editions of the South African Farmers’ Weekly there were articles about Doug’s outstanding and productive farming practices.
Sadly, shortly afterwards, in the August of 1981, Doug was murdered on the family farm. He is survived by his wife Barbara Anne and two children, Tania and Erik.
Peter D. Newhook
Pete and his wife Joan farmed up the Nyanga road from Rusape but have moved on.
Richard Alan Norvall. Deceased.
Richard was born in the Lady Rodwell Maternity Home in Bulawayo on the 9th June, 1947 to Allister and Mary Norvall. The family owned Silver Spring dairy farm near Bulawayo and Newcross cattle ranch at Nyamandhlovu. Richard was the youngest of six siblings – Dawn, Frank, John, Shirley and Wendy.
Richard had an idyllic life growing up as a farm boy with space, freedom and animals - horses, dogs, and his pet kudu, which was successfully relocated to the Matopos Game Park when he was fully grown. He loved animals and when at boarding school he kept a pet night ape which he kept hidden in his shirt. From an early age he was a member of the Bulawayo Pony Club and rode in gymkhana and cross-country events.
Rich was educated at REPS in the Matopos and Plumtree Senior School and was a boarder at both schools. He excelled at rugby and waterpolo.
Rich entered Gwebi Agricultural College in 1965 after a year working on the family farm. He met Sally Jones in Salisbury where she was working as a secretary - there were numerous occasions when Sally and her friends met up with the Gwebi boys. Richard and Sally decided to get married but this unfortunately precluded him from finishing his course as only single students were allowed at the College.
In 1966 Rich was given the task of travelling to Cape Town to collect a consignment of Charolais cows, which had been shipped from France. He travelled from Cape Town to Rhodesia with them by train, travelling and sleeping with the cows in the cattle truck.
Sally met the train at Plumtree and travelled with them as far as Salisbury - they were docile, beautiful animals! Rich delivered the cows to their new owner, Peter Hadingham, C13 at Gwebi and who farmed at Bromley with his ‘Glenavon’ Pedigree Charolais herd.
Rich and Sally were married in October 1966 and moved onto the Mazoe Citrus Estate, where Rich had the job of monitoring and organising a cattle feed lot, where the cattle were being fed orange peel silage as an experiment. Obe Veldman and his company, Cattle Breeders Services, were contracted to artificially inseminate all the cows and heifers in this feedlot. When this project came to an end Rich left Mazoe Citrus Estates to manage the Prison Farm at Chikurubi, and they lived in a flat in Avondale, Salisbury. It was during this period that their beautiful baby girl, Nicola, was born in the Lady Chancellor Maternity Home, Salisbury. Sally remembers being in labour, but Rich had to finish watching 'Bonanza' on TV before he would take her to the hospital in a taxi, as they didn't have a car at that stage!
Rich had not worked on the Prison Farm for long when his parents asked him to move back to Bulawayo to run the farm with his father, whose health was failing and both Rich's brothers had previously left the farm. They moved into one of the houses on Silver Spring, on top of a kopje, with a wonderful view of the valley. Rich planned to build a new house and swimming pool, and 'practiced' by first building a very attractive guest cottage behind the old house. Sadly, the new house and pool never materialised but Rich undertook many improvements on the farm - with a weekly trip to check the cattle, facilities and staff at Newcross Ranch in the Nyamandhlovu farming area.
In 1971 their beloved son Gary was born at the Mater Dei Hospital, Bulawayo. Rich was devoted to his children - they had a wonderful life on Silver Spring. Rich was a young, adventurous, dynamic, 'fun' Dad and they adored him. They rode horses together, he taught them both to drive at an early age on the farm roads, he made them a cable slide from the top of our hill to the bottom, where they dropped off the slide into a haystack. He also made a go-kart with Gary, which Gary and his picannin friends would pile into and hurtle down the steep, rocky road from our house. Just a few of the many things they did together. He also took his family on two wonderful holidays to Fish Hoek, holidays to Sally’s parents in Umtali and to Beira, as well as a camping holiday along the Transkei coast. He always made sure that they visited Sally’s parents and grandmother regularly - either in Umtali or they would come to the farm for holidays. The two families were very close friends, and Sally’s parents, brothers and grandmother loved Richard - he used to take my father on endless drives around the farm discussing aspects of farming; he took Sally’s mother horse riding; and he and Sally’s Gran would do crosswords together ...
When Rich became a full-time farmer, polocrosse became his sport. He was a skilled rider and polocrosse was an obvious choice. Richard was a founder member of the Bulawayo Polocrosse Club – which was formed in about 1970. It started off on the dusty field of the old Bulawayo Hunt Club and soon became a popular sport in Bulawayo with many members. The Norvall family drove to polocrosse practice every Sunday. Rich made a make-shift wooden structure which fitted onto the back of his Mazda truck, and his horse 'Planet' would be coaxed up a ramp into the back of the truck, with the family crammed into the cab. It was a somewhat precarious journey to and from Bulawayo every Sunday! This arrangement lasted for one season, with just one mishap - Planet spotted a donkey when they stopped in the car park of the Windermere Hotel on our way home. He reared up in terror and down came his front hooves onto the cab, causing a significant dent above their heads. Rich then organised another mode of more suitable transport for his polocrosse horses.
The polocrosse club changed venues several times, until Rich obtained permission to use the Umgusa Club and the land around it as their new polocrosse club and fields. He ploughed and levelled a field and soon Umgusa Polocrosse Club became a popular venue for players, their families and spectators. Unfortunately the bush war intensified and people were reluctant to drive out on the Victoria Falls Road to Umgusa. The club reluctantly moved back into town to the Queen’s Club fields.
The Polocrosse team and their families travelled to various locations in Zimbabwe for tournaments, which were great family gatherings and loads of fun. Riders, horses, grooms, kids, dust, mud, tents - and plenty of braais and beer. Rich once went to a tournament without Sally and the children, and was found in the morning fast asleep in a hammock strung between the posts of a polocrosse goal. Rich was a spectacular polocrosse player and his play was exciting to watch. His horsemanship was excellent and he made sure Nikki and Gary both had professional riding lessons to learn how to ride 'properly'! Sally had to drag them off to the lessons, as they thought they were quite accomplished enough - leaping onto their horses and galloping off into the wild blue yonder. Anyway, the lessons certainly paid off in the long run.
In 1975 Rich bought one of the Umgusa Irrigation plots - 'Greenfields'. Here he successfully grew one crop of wheat and then lucerne and maize for the dairy cows. The old thatched house on Greenfields was unoccupied and, in June 1977 it was used as the venue for their combined 30th birthday parties, together with Barbara Parsons and Candy Schermbrucker who also had their 30th birthdays in June. Everyone was invited! Murals of horses and cartoons were painted on the inside walls and hay bales set up for seating. A large wooden and hay bale bar was built and a popular band from Bulawayo was hired and came out for the night. There was plenty of food and drink and noise was not an issue - what a party it turned out to be, but sadly Rich's last birthday celebration.
Rich had also previously organised a polocrosse fund-raising braai in an area of Silver Spring Farm which was called 'The Badlands' - an area of deep gullies and erosion similar, on a small scale of course, to the American Badlands. A stark but beautiful venue for a party with a difference. It was a great success – it was advertised far and wide and people came, despite 'the situation'. Rich had African drummers, actually some of their farm workers, positioned up on the cliffs with their drums, paraffin lanterns, hay bales, a plank and hay bale pub, large braai pit, battery-operated music system .... all giving a wonderful atmosphere to the party.
The bush war was always the shadow hanging over them, and Rich set up the security fence around their home, grenade screens on the windows and taught Nikki and Gary how to handle the FN and the PM9 pistol, and what to do in the event of an attack. He modified an old jeep into a landmine-proof vehicle for use on the farm roads and in the bush. He was given the responsibility by the local security co-ordinating committee for our district's fully-equipped first aid backpack. This he would carry on his back, using one of his horses to ride through the bush to the casualties - thus avoiding landmines or ambushes on the roads.
In his mid-twenties Rich was elected Chairman of the Matabeleland Branch of the Rhodesia Dairy Producers' Association (RDPA). He was very successful in this role and enjoyed being involved in the dairy industry countrywide.
For his National Service in 1967, Rich had been selected for the Officers' Course at the School of Infantry at Gwelo, from which he successfully graduated. When the Norvall family moved onto the farm, he became a member of the Police Reserve and had regular call-ups to the Beit Bridge area, as well as local patrolling.
On the moonless night of 14th October 1977, Richard and his brother-in-law, in full camouflage uniform, decided to privately patrol an area alongside the Victoria Falls Road, which included a section of their farm. They were attempting to ascertain the route taken by insurgents infiltrating the Bulawayo African townships. Having separated, Richard was accidentally shot by his brother-in-law, who mistook him for the enemy. He had three wounds and later died, in the early hours of the morning of 15th October, their 11th wedding anniversary, in the Bulawayo Hospital, whilst undergoing surgery to repair his aorta.
Richard had a tremendous 'joie de vivre', a strong character and an infectious laugh, which both Nikki and Gary have inherited.
He had a kind and caring nature and was much loved by his family, friends, business associates and his employees.
Clive attended Jameson High School in Gatooma and has never left the Eiffel Flats and Kadoma area after graduating from Gwebi with a First Class Diploma. He is married to Estelle and together they are enthusiastic supporters of the Charity, Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund, in that part of the country. Clive is a resident of Westview Retirement Home.
Mike N. Peirson
Mike was born in Salisbury on the 24th October, 1947. After completing his schooling at Plumtree School, Michael attended Gwebi Agricultural College with Course 17 where he graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture.
After graduating he worked first for Mr. Bob Field, on Msinje Pagomo Farm in the Banket area for one year and then Mr. John Budge on his farm in the Bindura North area for two years. On Bob Field’s farm they grew Burley tobacco, Maize and Sunflower as well as running a herd of Hereford cattle, while on John Budge’s farm they grew Virginia tobacco, Maize and Cotton and also ran a herd of Hereford cattle.
Following those three years he worked at Alaska Mine initially surveying an EPO between Alaska mine and Mangula mine. This was followed with a stint in the Geology Dept. On the mine, mainly working underground. Then it was a break with a three month trip with a friend hitch-hiking through Europe.
On returning to Rhodesia Michael had several short-term jobs from maintaining a small fleet of transport trucks in Tengwe to selling TVs and HiFi’s in First Street, Salisbury and then as a relief sales rep. for Lever Bros. During which time he covered almost every part of Zimbabwe. It was during this time, when he spent some weeks in Bulawayo that he met his wife to be, Liz Groves, who was a student at Teachers Training College at the time.
On returning to Salisbury Michael joined Arbor Acres, the chicken farming company, on their Langford farm just South of Salisbury. His position there was in the workshops and consisted of maintaining all the machinery on the farm from boreholes, generators, hatchery, mill, soya processing plant, staff housing, water reticulation. He was also involved with a herd of cattle and a 12 acre irrigation scheme where they grew asparagus and green mealies. On 18th Dec 1976 Michael and Liz were married. The next year Michael did a two month stint in Iran, where Arbor Acres had started a chicken farm in partnership with the Shah of Iran. Liz had to stay behind, because she was teaching and couldn’t get away.
During his time at Arbor Acres Michael did his initial call up with the Army for four months at Llewellin Barracks near Bulawayo. After that he was transferred to the Armaments Workshop at KGVI Barracks in Salisbury, and was called up for stints of 6 weeks in and 6 weeks out on a regular basis.
After leaving Arbor Acres he joined a company called Savonuts Products based in Pioneer Street, Salisbury. This company was mainly catering for farm rations for the workers on farms. He was there for over 30 years becoming a share-holder until the company changed hands in 2009.
Now retired, but without a pension, which was reduced to almost nothing during the time of hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe, he is making ends meet by doing general handyman type jobs in the Northern suburbs of Harare. Michael and Liz had a son and daughter, both married. They have two grandsons and a granddaughter all living in Europe with their parents.
Liz passed away on Tuesday, 30th July in Harare. She had woken up early to do some baking but died after collapsing in the kitchen.
John S. Spencer, aka ‘Lug’.
At one stage several years after leaving Gwebi John was self-employed as a water diviner on farms in Mashonaland.
John S. Sprowson
John is living in Malawi where he and his wife run a very successful garden nursery called ‘Four Seasons’ in Lilongwe.
Keith Robert Watson, aka ‘Bucky’. Deceased.
Keith was born in Gwelo on 15th October 1945, the oldest of two other siblings, Tony and Gill. He attended Cecil John Rhodes Junior and Chaplin School in Gwelo where he was an excellent athlete and sportsman in his younger days and held the record for the 220 yards which stood for some time. On completing his schooling he enrolled at Gwebi with C17 and graduated in 1967.
Thereafter he moved to Triangle where he worked in the research station before becoming a Section Manager growing sugarcane. Keith steadfastly remained a bachelor, and in those early days during the bush war left his home open to a steady stream of married women with babies whilst their husbands were on call up! He was known to be generous gentleman with a wicked sense of humour.
Keith applied for and was given a border farm called Rungudzi in Sipolilo (Guruve) where he grew tobacco but he was mortared and attacked twice by terrorists which prompted him to lease a section of Chipiri Farm in Mvurwi where he continued to grow tobacco before going into partnership with David ‘Tubby’ Watson on Goromawkwa Farm in Centenary in 1991. This partnership proved to be a successful and long lasting arrangement but came to an end when the farm was illegally acquired in April, 2002. He was a very active and social member of the Mvurwi and Centenary Clubs.
After a series of farming jobs at Raffingora and KweKwe he joined his brother Tony at Hunter’s Road, actively helping them on their farm. Sadly he passed away on Sunday 24th June 2018 after a short illness.
Although he never married, Keith loved life and was loved in turn for his generosity of spirit, his steadfastness and his sense of humour.
Keith "Bucky" Watson. Deceased.
Keith was born in Gweru on 15th October 1945. He attended CJR Junior and Chaplin School in Gweru. He received a Diploma in Agriculture, Course Keith Robert Watson was born in Gwelo on 15th October 1945, the oldest of two other siblings, Tony and Gill. He attended Cecil John Rhodes Junior and Chaplin School in Gwelo where he was an excellent athlete and sportsman in his younger days and held the record for the 220 yards which stood for some time. On completing his schooling he enrolled at Gwebi with Course 17 and graduated in 1967.
Thereafter he moved to Triangle where he worked in the research station before becoming a Section Manager growing sugarcane. Keith steadfastly remained a bachelor, and in those early days during the bush war left his home open to a steady stream of married women with babies whilst their husbands were on call up! He was known to be a gentleman, generous in nature and with a wicked sense of humour.
Keith applied for and was given a border farm called Rungudzi in Sipolilo (Guruve) where he grew tobacco but he was mortared and attacked twice by terrorists which prompted him to lease a section of Chipiri Farm in Mvurwi where he continued to grow tobacco before going into partnership with David ‘Tubby’ Watson on Goromakwa Farm in Centenary in 1991. This partnership proved to be a successful and long lasting arrangement but came to an end when the farm was illegally acquired in April, 2002. He was a very active and social member of the Mvurwi and Centenary Clubs.
After a series of farming jobs at Raffingora and KweKwe he joined his brother Tony at Hunter’s Road, actively helping them on their farm. Sadly he passed away on Sunday 24th June 2018 after a short illness.
Although he never married, Keith loved life and was loved in turn for his generosity of spirit, his steadfastness and his sense of humour.
Acknowledgements to the following for providing information to Colin Lowe:
Ian Johnstone (Archivist), Dr. W. Matizha (Principal of Gwebi), Libby Garnett (Dave Bashford’s sister), Rich Bedford, Helen and Alan Burl, Christine Martin, Mike Peirson, Andrew Newmarch, Ann Clark, John Eastwood, Erik Mouritzen, Sue Clothier, Derrik Hapelt, Anthony de la Rue (Cousin of Peter Bridges), Drew Conybeare, Commercial Farmers’ Union, Jane Watson, Jeanie Bell and Kelvin Hein (friends of Keith Watson), John Arkell, Sally Norvall, John Berney, Tony Hawkes, Chris Rogers (friend of Nigel Dodman), Anne Smith (Number 1 Detective Agency), Jim Arrowsmith, Terry Fletcher, Miles Johnson, Jamie Bennett and Robert Berkau (Jim Bennett’s family), John Brebner, Rob Beaton, Rob Smart and Stuart Charlton.
Iinformation 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.