Former members of staff
List of Staff members
|Ade, E C Rex||Field Section|
|Armiger, Geoff||Field Section|
|Ascough, Elizabeth M C||Hostel|
|Ascough, W Jeremy||Engineering Section|
|Baier, Arthur||Poultry Husbandry Section|
|Baldwin, E M||Admin|
|Balmain, Mrs M||Hostel|
|Barnes, Denis||Field Section|
|Bate, G C||Field Section|
|Bates, Denis W G "Twiggy"||Engineering Section|
|Beevers, Dave J||Field Section|
|Bell, John A||Engineering Section|
|Bennett, Steve R "Wonder Boy/Mr Wonder"||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Bircher, E A "Ted"||Engineering Section|
|Blackwood, J Bruce McK||Poultry Husbandry Section|
|Borsboom, H Mary||Hostel|
|Bosman, Roelf le Roux||Field Section|
|Boyd-Clark, Gerald||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Broster, Patrick||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Campion, Colin G||Animal Husbandry/Field Section|
|Chard, Jose F||Hostel|
|Chard, Peter G D "Sheriff"||Field/Animal Husbandry/Farm Management|
|Coates, Malcolm A||Poultry Husbandry Section|
|Craddock, Arthur C E||Field Section|
|Davenport, Rob E||Animal Husbandry Section|
|de C MacDonnell, P D "De Ert"||Field Section|
|de Satge, A P "Scratch"||Poultry Husbandry Section|
|de Waal, Henry||Poultry Husbandry Section|
|Dimond, R 'Bob' H||Engineering Section|
|Donovan, Dr P A "Tony"||Field Section, Farm Management Section|
|Dunckley, Bob W B||Field Section|
|Dunckley, Naomi||Poultry Management Section|
|Elson, Rob||Farm Management Section|
|Ferrans, James S "Jimmy"||Engineering Section|
|Fielding, Dr W L||Principal|
|Foort, Mary F H née Sutherland||Hostel|
|Fundira, M||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Gilling, Fred W||Engineering Section|
|Gilling, Joan V||Admin|
|Green, Lloyd "Lou"||Field Section|
|Hamilton-Ritchie, Malcolm D||Field Section|
|Hardy, G E||Hostel|
|Hawkes, Al J||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Hendrikz, V R "Chibuku"||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Hill, R H K "Botany Bill"||Field Section|
|Hodierne, E K||Admin|
|Hodierne, H Stan||Hostel|
|Hunt, Pete||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Hunter, Willie||Field Section|
|Izzett, Guy||Poultry Husbandry Section|
|Jerrard, Ken||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Jones, John Lloyd||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Joseph, Mike||Field Section|
|Keen, Peter R||Poultry Husbandry Section|
|Keenan, Paul B.||Field Section|
|Kok, E Mike||Animal Husbandry/Farm Management Section|
|Landsberg, Tim M||Engineering Section|
|Lane, W Jack V||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Lane, Shirley A||Hostel|
|Lang, Derrick A||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Langley, Doug G||Field Section|
|le Grange, Rob F||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Lloyd, G L L||Animal Husbandry Section|
|MacDonald, C G||Admin|
|McCarter, F M A||Field Section|
|McCarthy, Cuan N||Animal Husbandry Section|
|McLean, Hugh J "Pip"||Field Section/Principal|
|Muggleton, BUD "Mugs"||Admin|
|Muggleton, Kate E née Rolfe||Admin|
|Mundy, H Rod "Chief"||Animal Husbandry Section/Principal|
|Newton, M W||Field Section|
|O'Donovan, W Malvin "O'D"||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Parker, Cecily M||Hostel|
|Paterson, Alastair G||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Petheram, R John||Field Section|
|Pratt, Dave||Field Section|
|Prinsloo, Glynis J||Admin|
|Reece, Vic||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Rees, Gerda B A||Hostel|
|Rhodes, F Bernard||Animal Husbandry Section/Principal|
|Rowlands, E A "Bucky"||Field Section|
|Scott, Elwin B "So long"||Field Section|
|Stewart, Rob||Field Section|
|Sutherland, Mary F H||Hostel|
|Tattersfield, J Rex||Field Section|
|Templeton, H A||Engineering Section|
|Thorne, A P||Field Section|
|Trehane, Guy N||Animal Husbandry Section|
|van Aardt, Mary-Jo||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Walsh, James W. "Jimmy"||Field Section|
|Walters, B A, Mrs||Hostel|
|Waters, B H||Hostel|
|Webster, Gerry S||Animal Husbandry Section|
|Webster, Ron A||Engineering Section|
|Weekes, Ron||Engineering Section|
|Whitworth, Peter W "Bolt"||Field Section|
|Winkfield, Richard A||Animal Husbandry|
|Zappas, Mike R||Field Husbandry|
News about former members of teaching Staff, farm, administration and hostel
E. C. Rex Ade
Edwin Clifford Rex Ade was born at Bonda Mission in Inyanga in 1949 which was probably the only place that could be described as being “like a hospital” anywhere close to Inyanga – probably still is. We owned a farm there growing apples and did some Dairy.
I was the youngest of a pretty huge lot of “Ades” being his, hers and “not sure”. Most of the children were of the female variety – not sure whether that was a good or bad thing. My eldest brother, actually half-brother, was in Course 5 at Gwebi and ended up being a very successful tobacco farmer in Banket. The family is quite seriously separated, mainly through political problems, but also because of the wide variety of ages - I was once introduced to an opposition tennis player at Wedza who turned out to be one of my elder sisters!
I did correspondence school for kindergarten and can distinctly remember listening to some schooling on a blue circular radio which ran off a car battery - more interested in the whys and wherefores of the radio than in what was actually being said. Junior schooling was at Chancellor Junior School in Umtali – obviously the best school in the country! I spent most of my time there avoiding any organised sport, smoking in our “fort” and receiving punitive action from the tacky of Dale-Jones and the cane of Morrison-Young. I loved it all. I also happened to be at school with my future wife, Sue Gilling, but was stupidly unaware of her then.
Senior schooling was at Sinoia High School where I became interested in all sorts of sports here – even giving up smoking for my last year.
After various jobs - mainly in government departments – culminating in a few years in Internal Affairs based at Nuanetsi (I loved that area), I joined Course 22 at Gwebi in October 1970. What a ball for two years! I worked just hard enough to pass at the end of the course and also to be engaged to Sue of the famed Gilling clan. Fred, who sadly passed away in August 2019, and Joan Gilling lived close to us in Dorchester, England.
There were many varied jobs after Gwebi including one attempt at being a chemical rep in the Hartley/Gatooma area. I then spent a couple of years lecturing at Gwebi in the Field Section. It was quite an advantage being an ex-student in that one knew exactly what they were up to all the time.
I returned to farming growing tobacco as the main crop in Trelawney, Hartley then Wedza. I had a chance to go on my own in Wedza in 1980 and am very glad that I didn’t - worst tobacco prices for years!
I joined Mazoe Citrus Estate for a couple of years then onto Simoona Estates, which was owned by Anglo American, near Bindura although our main area of entertainment and sport was Glendale Country Club. Our main crops were cotton, maize and soyas (quite large areas of each) - all dryland which seemed a little silly as we had 11 kms of river frontage with the Mazoe river. After I became General Manager we introduced some irrigation, but this was during the various farm invasions and it wasn’t too long before the situation at Simoona became untenable and I moved out of farming and into the same sphere in which my wife, Sue, had been trained in - schooling.
I spent a year at Peterhouse as Assistant Bursar. We were then offered a joint partnership at Barwick School in Concession - Sue as the Headmistress and me as (another very long important sounding title) School Manager. Great fun! Unfortunately the government became interested in owning all private schools and we eventually decided to leave and go to England, landing here on 31st December, 2004.
Sue has been teaching in various positions close to Dorchester and I have been Mess Accountant at The Royal School of Signals in Blandford (about twenty miles away). Both our children moved to England before we did. Our daughter, Tammy, qualified as a chartered accountant while in Zim, then moved over here where she has taken various other degrees and is doing incredibly well in a job that neither Sue nor I understand. She is happily ensconced with an ex South African who has qualified as an anaesthetist. Our son, Bradley, followed Tammy a couple of years later and has also taken a degree (computer science), become a member of MENSA and is presently in the “Quantity Surveyor” business and also doing very well for himself, wife and son. We are very proud of both of them.
Although both Sue and I were very sports orientated when we were at Glendale, the only sport we have attempted here is golf which we enjoyed for a short while but seem to have lost a bit of interest? As you get older there seems to be less time for things!
Edited from Rex Ade's contribution to Colin Lowe's Course 22 newsletter, July 2020
Geoff came from New Zealand and decided that Rhodesia was "the most beautiful place in the world". He worked in Field Section.
William Jeremy Newton Ascough
Jeremy was born in Wolverhampton, England. Just before leaving Reading University where he did his degree in Agricultural Engineering, Jeremy saw an appeal for young people to work in Southern Rhodesia on the notice board. He went to listen to Charles Murray’s presentation in the evening and within a few months he was on a ship to Africa – a place he loved and made his home for the rest of his life.
Jeremy started working as a Conex Officer in Mtoko and was then moved to Chipinge where he met his wife, Elizabeth Kotze. Jeremy decided he should learn to speak Afrikaans as his new family and many of the farming community were Afrikaans speaking. After they were married, they moved to Nyazura where Jeremy surveyed many more dams, water furrows and contours for new land to be cultivated as well as other work.
Jeremy then went to Gwebi College. Then after 14 years of teaching there, Jeremy left in August 1973 to be a lecturer in the Department of Agriculture at the University of Zimbabwe. Engineer Ascough, as he was known, had a keen interest in appropriate technology and ways to help people (especially in rural areas) improve their standard of life. He started up the Appropriate Technology Department at the University of Zimbabwe and became its first Director. During this time he started up a Rabbit Breeding Program; worked on and promoted Solar Energy, biogas plants, Tanning, Leather work and soap making. Jeremy wrote several papers, presented workshops and travelled overseas attending conferences, doing research and consulting for various organizations worldwide. Jeremy was a student counselor too. He also set up a rabbit and tanning section at the University farm out on the Mazowe road before his retirement. Jeremy was also moderator (set or checked examination papers) for other Agricultural institutions for some years.
Jeremy and Elizabeth were involved with the Ploughing Association of Zimbabwe, for which they were both judges at many ploughing competitions. They were members of the Tree Society for many years. Jeremy was very involved with the setting up / development of Mukuvisi Woodlands in Eastlea, Harare where many school children and visitors have learnt about our natural resources and bush skills or just been able to enjoy time in nature.
Jeremy retired in 1997. He and Elizabeth moved from Harare to Bulawayo in 2001, where their youngest daughter lived and they enjoyed a much quieter life.
Elizabeth passed away in May 2005 from cancer, at 66 years of age. During her illness, Jeremy would often sit at her bedside reminiscing about their travels around the world. Jeremy moved to Zambia with his youngest daughter and son in law.
Jeremy had done sketching as a young man during his year of national service in Malaysia and again during his ‘Bright light’ stints when he had time to kill. In his last years Jeremy did a lot of drawing/water painting/sketching. He drew and painted a number of homesteads from photos, many of which hang on walls as a memory of happy days. He visited family and friends including his brother in France, his eldest daughter in Harare and second daughter in Mozambique. His family was always very dear to him and he was a wonderful “Oupie-Dad” to his grandchildren. He loved spending time with them in the bush and outside enjoying nature.
Before retiring Jeremy bought a computer and learnt very quickly how to use it to keep contact with family and friends. He often wrote to those without computers. It was also helpful for drawing up project proposals which he had done many times.
Whilst Jeremy was visiting his brother in law and wife in Chipinge he died of a sudden heart attack in April 2008, at 77 years old after a late afternoon walk on the family farm he knew so well. He was buried next to his beloved Elizabeth in Chipinge Cemetery.
He is survived by his 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren.
With all the corruption, collapse of the farming and agricultural side of Zimbabwe and the devaluation of the Zimbabwe Dollar, Jeremy wondered at times as a widower, if his lifelong commitment and hard work to the people of Zimbabwe was ever worth it – all the farms he had helped develop and seen flourish as some of the best tobacco, maize, wheat and cotton farms, and now there was nothing! All the projects he had started up and had running to the benefit of others now no longer there. However, he influenced and touched many lives and what he did was good and right. Many experienced a better life. Above all, he would have missed out on all his family and the many happy memories we all share and this had him conclude that he was glad he came to Africa.
Written by his daughter Annamarie Vermaak, Lusaka.
Came from the Lowveld having worked on ranches there, and was approaching retirement when he joined the poultry unit at Gwebi.
Mrs Balmain left the hostel to become Matron at Jameson High School.
Founding lecturer at Gwebi, Denis shared the Basic Sciences lectures with Tony Donovan. Denis did the Geology and Soils lectures, and they both shared the Farm Management course.
Denis, who had obtained his degree in soil conservation at Wits after the war, completed his Masters degree in veld management while on the Gwebi staff.
Denis was born in Folkestone to a policeman. He served his apprecentice as a Marine Engineer with the Merchant Navy. In 1951 he went to the British Cameroons, moved to Blackpool and then on to Nyasaland. Cheryl was born when Denis and Jean were with the Tobacco Research Board but after five years there they moved to Gwebi. In 1972 he became Head of Engineering.
Denis and Jean went to Keiskammahoek in 1982. They moved to Stutterheim in 1984.
Denis passed away on 8th September 1990 and Jean followed.
Dave J Beevers
Dave joined in 1977 as an Instructor in Field Section and came from Shuttleworth College in England.
He left during 1979 with his family to go to Bible College in USA.
John was Building Instructor in Engineering and left Gwebi to join the Hatcliff staff in 1974.
Steve was posted to Gwebi as Lecturer in Animal Husbandry in November 1973 having been awarded a government bursary to attend the University of Natal to study animal science. Three lecturers had left Stock Section during 1973 so Peter Chard was transfered from Field Section and within a week of Steve's final exam at Pietermaritzburg on 21st November, he started at Gwebi despite having expected to be sent to Matopos Research Station.
At the end of the next Gwebi academic year, he reported for National Service with most of Course 24 to Llewellin Barracks. After three phases of infantry training and a MAIII course, he completed NS in 1975 operating from JOC Bindura.
Steve was promoted to take over as Senior Lecturer when Peter Chard moved out to set up Farm Management as a stand alone section. While running the national beef crossbreeding research cell on Gwebi South, he had developed a leaning towards practical beef so joined Keith Kirkman at Donnington Farms, Norton. As stockman, he ran the Angus, Brangus and Tuli studs and fattened the terminal Charolais over commercial criss-cross Angus with Tuli. Angus, Tuli and Brangus bulls were sold in a production sale on-site. Dorper lambs were pen finished for butchers in Salisbury.
Shortly after Independence, Steve joined Hoechst Zimbabwe as Technical Representative in animal health. He married Lynn Chamney from the Farmer magazine and served on the Council of the Society for Animal Production and was Newsletter Editor and responsible for publicity for ZSAP events. He was visiting lecturer on Beef Husbandry at Gwebi and gave presentations to Blackfordby Institute until he was promoted to run the agricultural division for Hoechst in Zambia and Malawi in January 1985. He was Chair of the Zambian Agrochemical Association and was involved on projects to suppress East Coast Fever and sleeping sickness in communal herds while also running the commercial side.
Steve left Hoechst in 1990 and moved his young family to Australia. He worked for CIBA-GEIGY as Area Manager, northern New South Wales out of Tamworth, then as Site Manager in Brisbane and State Sales Manager for Queensland, Northern Territories and Papua New Guinea. He was moved to Sydney into marketing during a merge but subsequently during Lynn's illness the Administration Manager position was created. Lynn passed away in 2000 in Sydney from chronic lymphocytic leukaemia but they have two daughters.
After 17 years with Syngenta he moved to Armidale as CEO for the Australian Wagyu Association.
He returned to Sydney in 2012 and trades as Wagyu International. Steve lives in Hornsby, on the northern leafy fringe of Sydney.
Edward Arthur Bircher was born near London, England in 1910 and as a young man worked in his own furniture upholstery shop in London and became skilled on diamond leather upholstery for selected pieces of furniture.
He later became a Fire Officer in London and was posted to India as Chief Fire Officer during the Second World War. During the course of his fire-fighting duties he and his team put out fires in several cordite factories which were extremely hazardous operations. After the war he returned to England and married Evelyn Pitt, and during this time he qualified as a Building Inspector while living in London. From a young age Ted was interested in motor racing and was proud of the fact that he circuited the famous Brooklands Race Track near Weybridge in Surrey at over 100 mph on his 350cc Velocette Motor Bike. England was a miserable place after the war with severe food rationing, a shortage of work due to the huge influx of returning servicemen and, of course, the terrible weather and after two years Ted and Evelyn left and went by boat to Southern Africa to start a new life in Rhodesia.
Ted worked for the Rhodesian Government on many building projects and most notably was Clerk of Works on the building of Salisbury Airport, which when completed, had the longest runway in the world, and also the Lady Chancellor Maternity Home in Salisbury. Ted often joked that both projects were airports – one for aircraft and the other for storks!
Evelyn had trained as a speech and drama teacher in London before the war and Ted also became interested in acting. They were among the founding members of REPS Theatre in Salisbury and acted and helped produce several plays there in the 1950's including ‘Death of a Salesman’.
Ted continued to enjoy motorbikes once he had settled in Rhodesia and raced at the Coronation Park Speedway, Salisbury in 1952 on his Velocette and carried on racing for a few more years. Another passion of his was Vintage Motor Cars. For several years he was asked to travel and stay in South Africa while he commentated live on the Vintage Car Rallies. He made copious notes and could talk about the cars and their drivers for several hours a day.
He also enjoyed participating in the Mobil Economy Run where the idea was to save as much petrol as possible over a given distance. In 1961 he was the winner of Class B driving his Borgward TS.
By the time Ted transferred to Gwebi in the early sixties to head up the Building Department his family had increased with two children – Petronella, known as Petrie, and Dominic who sadly passed away in 2011. Ted and Evelyn were divorced in about 1960. He was a very good story teller and raconteur and his children were fascinated when he started into his story telling. They were spellbound with his tales of India, his travels and growing up in England. Later, when he was in his fifties and sixties, he wrote short stories which were read on the radio with the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation in Salisbury.
He loved animals and the family owned three Dalmatians. They were all pedigree dogs and during the school holidays the children learnt to show the dogs at Dog Shows in Salisbury, Zambia and Malawi. The dogs all became Champions and the family started breeding from them, having at one stage twenty-two Dalmatian puppies in the house. Sir Roy Welensky, the Federal Prime Minister, took one of the puppies.
He took up archery in the 1960’s. He and fellow archers would add a bit of drama to the Sherwood Arms Hotel once a year when they dressed up as Robin Hood and his Merry Men and would shoot an arrow down the banqueting hall and make off with some of the banqueting food which they would take to a nearby Charity. Of course, the hotel would have been warned in advance and would have made extra food for the occasion.
One afternoon during an Archery competition he shot an arrow into the gold on the archery target and managed to shoot the next arrow into the shaft of the first arrow. Ted received a certificate of recognition for this incredible feat from the Nippon Archery Association.
He did take his Archery seriously and decided to put something back into this sport by coaching younger paraplegic archers. He became the Founder and Chairman of the Rhodesian Paraplegic Games Association. The Rhodesian Team of four male and two female competitors with Ted as Manager flew to Tokyo and took part in the 1964 Summer Paralympic Games. They did well and came home with 10 gold medals, 5 silver and 2 bronze, coming fifth out of twenty-one nations having participated in the disciplines of Archery, Swimming, Javelin and Discus. Ted was awarded an MBE in 1965 for his commitment to the Rhodesian Paraplegic movement.
After leaving Gwebi in about 1971 he worked as a Clerk of Works and Building Inspector again in Salisbury until he retired. He moved into the BS Leon Trust, a retirement home in Avondale, Harare in his late seventies and passed away in 1990.
Ted is fondly remembered by the many students that he taught for his white Borgward vehicle, his Dalmatian dogs and his Short Wheel Base Series 1 Land Rover that he used around the College. Ted was a humble man, had no pretensions about himself in spite of his many notable achievements, and was popular with the students for his practical and down-to-earth advice on agricultural buildings. Any notes taken by students during his lectures were never out of date, relevant and often referred to long after graduation. A great teacher.
Written by his daughter, Petrie van Dam, for Colin Lowe.
J Bruce McK Blackwood
Bruce ran the Poultry section when he replaced Malcolm Coates in 1976. He married Cheryl, daughter of Denis & Jean Bates, also of Gwebi. Bruce left Gwebi in 1979 and worked for the Harare Council then moved to the Cape with Cheryl. He worked in the poultry industry then in the mines. He did not fully recover from a leg amputation after an accident and passed away a few years later. They had a son and a daughter and Cheryl is on a farm and works in administration on a gold mine.
Mrs H M Borsboom
Mrs Borsboom became Senior Matron in the hostel when Mrs Ascough was farewelled in 1974.
Roelf le Roux Bosman
Roelf was born in Shabani on the 19th February, 1961. His parents farmed at Enkeldoorn where he attended Enkeldoorn Junior School along with his sister Marina. Later on he attended Bothasof Senior School in Salisbury. Roelf had a typical Rhodesian upbringing on his parent’s farm in the Enkeldoorn area.
Hoping to study Agricultural Science at University in South Africa he was required to fulfil his military commitment first but was deferred in order to rectify his hearing problems. It was while attending to this medical issue that he took up employment on the Field Husbandry section at Gwebi College as Assistant to the Farm Manager, Doug Langley C15, between March 1979 and January 1980.
Although Roelf was not involved with instructing the students he was very much engaged, under the direction of the Farm Manager, with running the practical side of the farm which of course had to continue functioning as a commercial farm when the students were absent because they were on farm tours, vacations and examinations. His duties included overseeing the tobacco crop from seedbeds to curing, doing the land preparation of all the other crops from ploughing to planting as well as supervising the African staff.
Roelf was about the same age as most of the students and got to know them very well at ‘Mundy’s Folly’ which he often frequented in the evenings after work. In the week before Rhodes and Founders a group of about fifteen students decided to drive up to Kariba and spend the long weekend at Caribbea Bay and they invited Roelf to join them.
Roelf was very keen to go with them but unfortunately he had been told by the Farm Manager that he had to be on duty over that long holiday weekend. The students refused to accept that answer and told Roelf at the bar, “Don’t worry, we’ll hatch a plan and arrange something to release you from that duty.”
On the Friday morning, which was the start of the long weekend, Roelf was in the Farm Office getting instructions from the Farm Manager as to what his duties would be over the holiday when three or four students burst into the office and threw a hessian sack over Roelf, tied it up and bundled him into the back of a pickup and drove off, shouting as they left that they had kidnapped him. A startled Doug Langley could only watch in disbelief as his Farm Assistant disappeared down the road.
Of course, as soon as they reached the Gwebi gate on the main road to Kariba the ‘kidnappers’ untied Roelf and he joined the driver in the front whilst the others dispersed to the other cars in the convoy.
Roelf recalls that they all had the most wonderful weekend at Caribbea Bay, partying like only Gwebi students could which consisted of drinking, dancing, singing to all the music, swimming to cool off and most importantly chatting up all the young girls and even the not-so-young ones. The level of enjoyment was so high that it took some time before Roelf realised that Rhodes and Founders had come and gone and by the time his ‘kidnappers’ deposited him back at Gwebi he was several days late for work. Roelf guessed that Doug must have turned a blind eye to the student shenanigans remembering the time when he was a student and his C15 friends kidnapped Sue Sexton, the UCRN Rag Queen, and held her in a pig sty at Gwebi for several days. Roelf reckons his rather flimsy excuse of 'kidnapping' must have held good because the authorities never fired him.
Once Roelf’s medical issues were resolved he was called up to Llewellin Barracks in January 1980 where he served with the Infantry until February 1981.
Thereafter he moved to South Africa where he and two partners were involved in a broad spectrum of security services but decided to relocate to Livingstone, Zambia in 1993 where Roelf managed a lodge on the Zambezi with his two colleagues. Despite contracting Guillain Barre Syndrome, which is life threatening, Roelf has courageously overcome this condition and, along with his partner Lucy, now own and manage Kubu Crafts which manufactures high quality Zambezi Teak furniture, as well as managing Kubu Cafe, the well known social centre in Livingstone.
Gerald graduated from Natal University and lectured at Chibero and Gwebi Agricultural Colleges.
He tells his story from his time at Gwebi "In September 1966, I married Françoise Rosset, whom I had met four years previously while studying at the University of Natal and when she was nursing at Grey’s Hospital, Pietermaritzburg. We set up home in one of the staff houses at Gwebi and shortly afterwards I was asked by Rob Davenport (who, by then had moved from Gwebi to his family’s recently-acquired Stapleford Farm at Mt. Hampden) if I’d help him develop from scratch, a 100-sow pig enterprise and manage the beef herd on Stapleford, while he concentrated on cropping.
Early in 1967, my wife and I joined Rob and Libby on Stapleford Farm and after the birth of our first child, Natalie, 18 months later, we moved to my grandmother’s Castle Zonga farm at Inyazura, which she had vacated after the death of her husband (my step-grandfather).
Castle Zonga and my father’s own Mount Zonga farm were then consolidated into a single unit and I took over management of the livestock, principally the Zonga Friesland herd. Due to its susceptibility to international sanctions, tobacco production was discontinued and after converting the tobacco barns on both farms for alternative uses, we embarked on a diversification project centred on increased maize production. This involved increasing the size of the dairy herd, establishing a small Angus beef herd and introducing pigs, poultry and chinchillas, which were housed in the disused tobacco barns.
In the end, however, the economic realities of small scale enterprises and the distance from markets meant that some of the enterprises had to be shelved – not, however, before Mount Zonga was awarded the Eastern Districts N.R.B. ‘Rosebowl’ in 1970, for its “advanced farming practices, farming diversity and excellent yields in milk production and maize”.
We reluctantly dispersed the Zonga Friesland towards the end of 1978 and early in 1979 I was appointed General Manager of the Friesland Cattle Breeders Association of South Africa and I emigrated with my wife and four children on 5th March 1979, to settle in Bloemfontein – where we lived for six years. In this position I was fortunate to be able to travel extensively throughout South Africa and to visit Zambia, Europe, Canada and the USA on business.
In June 1985, I moved with my family to Australia, to take up the position of Chief Executive Officer with the Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society of Australia, based in Albury – a delightful town with a population of about 35,000, which is located on the Murray River that separates New South Wales and Victoria. Apart from its proximity to water activities (the hydro-electric Hume Dam), Albury is close to the Victorian Alps ski-fields - which provided us all with a ‘soft landing’ in Australia!
However, after only a few months with the Murray Grey Society, I was offered the position of CEO with Australia’s largest breed organization, the 3000-member Holstein-Friesian Association of Australia - which I accepted. The HFAA head office was in Melbourne, and since we had purchased a house in Albury (with mortgage!) and our children had settled well into their new environment, I moved alone to Melbourne, renting a small flat and commuting ‘home’ to see my family over weekends - a 600km round trip! This went on for almost three years until we were able to sell our Albury house and buy a home in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston, on Port Phillip Bay. We have lived in this house since December 1988 and having done some renovating over the years and establishing a garden, we don’t look like moving out anytime soon!
Since 2008, Françoise (who retired in 1998) and I have been free agents, enjoying a quiet lifestyle, pursuing our hobbies of gardening, bush walking, camping and travel. We are blessed with eight grand-children, three each in Melbourne and Sydney and two in the UK."
Provided by Gerald 2017
Patrick D Broster
Patrick joined the Animal Husbandry section in 1978 as an instructor and ran the Piggery.
Colin G Campion
Colin was a new arrival to the country from the UK and became an Animal Husbandry Instructor in 1977. He transferred to Field Section in 1979.
Peter, from Scotland, joined the staff in Field Section and in 1974 took over Animal Husbandry - replacing Cuan McCarthy. He set up the Farm Management Section in 1977 with Mike Kok and was replaced in Stock by Steve Bennett. His wife, Jose, replaced Mrs Balmain as Deputy Matron.
After Gwebi, Peter was involved with correspondence education and moved to South Africa. He passed away in Howick after a short illness on 9th May 2010. Peter's work from Gwebi was the basis for the Nosa agricultural course which was subsequently endorsed by the CFU. His son-in-law, Peter Dick (Course 25), is MD of Nosa Agricultural Services and Alastiar Paterson (Gwebi staff) is a director.
Malcolm A Coates
Malcolm was Poultry Instructor in Stock Section in 1972.
After nine months he was called up for nine months National Service in the army where he lost his very distinctive moustache.
He and Sue returned to the UK in 1976.
Arthur C E Craddock
Arthur came and went as an Instructor in Field Section. His second return was in 1974 for a few more years.
After graduating at Gwebi in 1960, Rob enrolled at university in South Africa. He returned as a lecturer at Gwebi and has been farming at Stapleford with Libby and reclining at Hermanus.
Henry de Waal
Henry lectured Poultry in the 1960s.
He had represented South Africa playing Hockey.
Robert Henry Dimond was born on 25th November 1917 in the little town of Inistioge in the Co. Kilkenny Ireland. He was a farmer’s son, one of 9 children and as a young boy found a hand grenade in the river near his house. He opened it and was showing the other kids how the gun power danced in a pan on the old wood stove, when he put too much in the pan and the explosion blew off 3 of his right-hand fingers. Something he never talked about and we only heard the story when we visited family in Ireland in 1976.
He did ‘proof reading’ for one of the newspapers in Ireland for money as a young man and helped out wherever possible with screening movies in the movie houses. He did his mechanics apprenticeship in New Ross, Co. Wexford, Ireland, and in his spare time he joined a rowing team for competition rowing. He worked for several garages as well as the tyre company Firestone.
He married Violet Coulter from Mallow, Co Cork, Ireland in September 1946, just after the end of the second world war. Due to the soldiers returning to Ireland jobs and accommodation was hard to come by which put pressure on him to move out of Ireland to Africa.
Bob’s brother-in-law was offered a position in South African with the South African milling company and in 1947 he left Ireland for Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Eventually Bob decided in 1949 he would also go to Africa So he at 32 years old and his wife, sold everything he could and sailed for Port Elizabeth, only again to struggled with work and accommodation. He saw a newspaper article about work in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia and he decided to apply. Their stay was short in Bulawayo and in about 1952 he accepted a post at Gwebi Agricultural College, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia and joined the Engineering Section.
Bob had 3 children, Irene born in Bulawayo 1951 who unfortunately lost a battle to cerebral cancer in 1985, she was married and had 3 children. Sheelagh born 1954 and is married with 3 children living in Pretoria, South Africa and son Leslie born 1960. Leslie married, but could not see a future in Rhodesia (then Zimbabwe) in 2005 and left for New Zealand with his wife and two small children.
The Dimonds lived at Gwebi until about 1966 when Bob got a new job at the Salisbury Polytechnical College and the family moved to town staying in Mabelreign, Salisbury. After retiring from the Salisbury Polytechnic, he took a job at a training school out near Beatrice but travelling got the better of him and his health started to fail. He passed away on 19 October 1981 in Pretoria, South Africa, after quite a battle with prostate cancer. His remains were repatriated to Rhodesia and is interned at Warren Hills Cemetery. Violet passed 18 September 2007 and is interned in Pretoria, South Africa.
With thanks to his daughter, Sheelagh, who was contacted by Colin Lowe.
Dr Tony Donovan
Tony Donovan was a graduate of Cambridge University and had an illustrious career in Agriculture – mainly research but also lecturing and then consultancy. He had worked in The Gambia in West Africa on research into rice and was offered a position at Matopos Research Station in Southern Rhodesia but was persuaded to first lecture in Crop Husbandry at Gwebi in 1950, making him a foundation member of staff. Here he stayed for over five years becoming the Vice Principal along the way.
“While on leave from the Gambia in Scotland I requested and was offered an appointment in Rhodesia. The appointment offered was as Research Agronomist at the Matopos Research Station which I thought would be ideal. However, on arrival in Salisbury in April 1950 I was persuaded to take the post of Lecturer in Crop Husbandry at Gwebi Agricultural College on a temporary basis until a suitable permanent incumbent could be found. The College had just opened under the first Principal, Dr WL (Bill) Fielding who I had met two years earlier at Mount Edgecombe and whose wife Jose was a friend of my mother's in Johannesburg some years before. The College had also not been able to fill the lectureships in Basic Sciences or in Farm Management so I shared the Basic Sciences course by doing the lectures in Botany and Genetics with Denis Barnes who did the Geology and Soils lectures; he and I also shared the Farm Management course. Denis, who had obtained his degree in soil conservation at Wits after the war, did his Masters degree in veld management while on the Gwebi staff.
“After two years both our shared posts were filled, Basic Sciences by Jimmy Walsh and Farm Management by Rob Elson. Jimmy Walsh went on to become the founding Principal of Chibero College for African students, and much later joined me in Head Office as Head of the Branch of Agricultural Education; he performed with distinction in both posts. Two other members of staff with whom we have kept in touch over the years were Jack Lane and Jimmy Ferrans. Jack, who was the College's Animal Husbandry Instructor, lead the South African troops into Berlin after its fall to the Allies in WW2, while Jimmy Ferrans, the Building Instructor, was a Scot from Autermachty who had been an RAF pilot in WW2.
“After two years I was asked to take on the newly created post of Vice-Principal and continue lecturing in Crop Husbandry. With my lecturing load lightened it was possible for me to do some field experiments of a husbandry nature, primarily to give the students an understanding of the value and importance of field trials and how they are conducted. The results of the trials perhaps added little to local crop knowledge but it was enough compensation that one of the students became sufficiently interested in that kind of work to choose crop research as a career. That student was Rex Tattersfield who went on, after completing a first class diploma at Gwebi, to Natal University and obtained a first class Crop Science degree. He returned to take over my crop lectureship at Gwebi when I moved to Matopos. Later he moved into the Research Department and had a distinguished career as one of Rhodesia's top plant breeders. After retiring Rex was in demand in Southern Africa as a consultant soyabean breeder and was awarded a Gold Medal by the International Soybean Association for his contribution as a breeder.
“Fortunately for me, the Senior Research Agronomists post at Matopos Research Station, where I should have gone originally, became vacant again and I applied for it and was appointed.
“The five and a half years at Gwebi College was good experience and the interaction with the students, almost all of whom were very fine mature young men, was very rewarding. Outstanding among them were Noel Waller, Bill Carter and Guy Hilton-Barber. They all became successful farmers and leaders in the country's agricultural industry, as they had been at College, until dispossessed of their land. We are still in touch with Bill Carter and Guy Hilton-Barber; sadly Noel Waller died of cancer a few years ago.”
Tony Donovan then spent seven years at Matopos Research Station where much of his work was on crop ecology in that marginal and drought prone area of the country. Charles Murray, Secretary of Agriculture, suggested that he visit the United States to attend a leadership programme which he did and at the same time he visited several sorghum and synthetic maize breeding stations, all relevant to Matabeleland agriculture. No sooner had he returned to Rhodesia than he was transferred to the Department of Research and Specialist Services in Salisbury to become Head of the new branch of Horticulture which had been set up within that Department. This move was preceded by study visits to South Africa, Kenya and Israel to get an understanding of their successful programmes of horticultural exports.
The Federation broke up on the 31st December, 1963 at which point Tony Donovan was promoted to one of two Assistant Directors of DRSS but still with a responsibility and oversight of the horticultural branch. This new position entailed much travel to the western world in order to keep Rhodesia at the forefront of agricultural research in Africa. The DRSS was an extremely successful agency within the agricultural structure of Rhodesia but gradually over the years as politics began to afflict the country, the Donovan family decided to move to South Africa which they did in 1974.
With his excellent track record Tony Donovan had no problem in finding employment with the South African Sugarcane Research Institute as the Chief Research Officer based at Mount Edgecombe in Natal and after two years became the Assistant Director. After eleven years and introducing many innovative methods and ideas he officially retired from SASRI in 1985 but soon after this embarked on the difficult task of studying for his Master’s Degree in Agricultural Management which he obtained in 1987, and followed it up with a PhD in 1990. In 1988 he joined the Tea Research Foundation, based in Mulanje in Malawi, flying there from Durban on a regular basis to serve as a Trustee and Board Member until he finally retired in 1996 and moved to Cape Town. Dr Donovan undertook several independent consultancies and presented numerous scientific papers on his research findings, attended countless seminars, conferences, symposiums and conventions often contributing, and on several occasions, giving the keynote speech. He also visited innumerable research stations all over Africa and further afield, not only to learn from them, but to pass on his knowledge from his vast experience. Dr Donovan’s autobiography lists the detail of his full life and huge contribution to research on this continent.
Sadly, after a lifetime of selfless service to Agriculture in Africa, Tony Donovan died at Rondebosch, Cape Town on the 19th December, 2018.
Contributed by Andrew Donovan, his son
Bob and Naomi Dunckley
Born in Ndola, Bob attended Whitestones in Bulawayo then St Andrews College in Grahamstown. He was awarded a First Class Diploma with Course 8 in 1958. After National Service he graduated with a B.Sc.Agric from Natal University and returned to the family farm. After marrying Naomi they worked in Canada for seven months then returned home before joining Lever Bros. He was Farm Manager at Gwebi from 1972 to 1975 then worked for a year with Peter Thomas and Associates as an agricultural consultant based in Nelspruit. He returned as Head of Field Section in 1977 when Hugh McLean was promoted as Principal. Naomi ran the Poultry Section at Gwebi from 1979. Bob subsequently succeeded Hugh McLean as Principal in the 1980s.
Bob was farming in Enterprise through Land Invasions then moved to Blackfordby in Banket where he became Head.
They have been in the UK for 10 years. Bob turned 80 recently and they are moving to Norfolk.
Rob Elson was appointed lecturer in Farm Management after Gwebi had been open for two years as it had been a shared role when it first opened.
John and Beatrice Everitte had two daughters and went to Crocodile Estate, Nelspruit, South Africa after leaving Gwebi.
James "Jimmy" Ferrans
James Smith Ferrans was born in Scotland, in 1920, in the small town of Auchtermuchty, Fife which was a Royal Burgh until 1975.
The Ferrans family lived in Dunshalt, a village neighbouring Auchtermuchty. Jimmy had two brothers and a sister.
During the second world war he joined the Royal Air Force and rose to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. After the war ended, Jimmy was sent to South Africa to help with the training of SAAF pilots, serving in Dunnotar and Port Alfred.
He met Joyce Alexander in Johannesburg who was to become his wife.
The couple had a trip to Scotland to help decide whether to move there permanently, or not, but climate and the seduction of Africa served to dissuade them from the move and they returned to South Africa after the late John was born in June of 1947 in the Scottish town of Perth. Jimmy was offered a career in the RAF or demobilisation. He chose the latter and, falling back on his pre-war training in carpentry and construction, sought work in the construction and engineering industry. During this time Joyce`s family had settled in Rhodesia, and the lure of new opportunities took the couple to Umtali where Jim worked in the building industry.
Neil was born in July 1948. The family lived two more years in Umtali, until the opportunity arose to become one of the foundation members of Gwebi Agricultural College.
Recruited as Building Instructor into the engineering department of Gwebi. Jimmy embraced farm planning, building skills and all aspects of construction for farming, such as tobacco barns, workshops, labourer accommodation, and as an add on, ensured the building of a squash court for students and staff, as well as tennis courts and a swimming pool.
Jimmy and family had many happy years at the college, but in 1960, while on holiday in South Africa, Jimmy was convinced by his brother-in-law in Johannesburg to join him in business, which was already established in mining and engineering supplies. In 1962 the family relocated to the small Western Transvaal town of Klerksdorp, in the heart of the gold mining area of the Transvaal.
The partnership with his brother-in-law dissolved after a short time and Jim went on to grow the business alone into a successful business which attracted the interest of a large conglomerate who bought out the business in about 1980.
For a number of years Jimmy and Joyce settled into semi-retirement during which time they involved themselves in a few attempts at keeping busy, and moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and back to Johannesburg.
Finally in 2004 they retired to Port Elizabeth. Joyce died in 2012, James died in 2013 at the age of 92. Happily, Jimmy and Joyce had kept in touch with their friends and neighbours from Gwebi, Jack and Shirley Lane as well as with Tony and June Donovan. Sadly all six of the former friends have passed away.
Having being raised at Gwebi from 2 to 14 years of age, Neil returned to Rhodesia after he had finished schooling in South Africa. He volunteered for National Service with Intake 81 at Llewellin Barracks. On completion he joined the Veterinary Service on the Borrowdale Road and served in the Wildlife Research Division under Dr John Condy. His last call-up was with RAR at Milibizi in 1978.
Dr W L Fielding
Dr Fielding did post graduate work at Rothamsted Research Station in England in the thirties and forties. He came out to Southern Rhodesia in 1949 to join the Ministry of Agriculture and was specifically tasked with starting an agricultural college at Gwebi offering a two year diploma course. Dr Fielding, in his understated and quiet way, was responsible for laying the foundations of this college that became known throughout the country and region, and whose Diploma was recognised worldwide. By the time he left Gwebi, just over five hundred students had graduated from the College.
After fifteen years establishing Gwebi and as head, Dr Fielding moved on to take the Chair of Agriculture at Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda.
More detail on his background is on the Principals page, click here.
Joan and Fred Gilling
Frederick William Gilling was born in Hammersmith, in the UK in March 1926, and his father died in 1929. His education consisted of elementary schooling in Middlesex and Oxfordshire, before training as a mechanic from August 1940. He served with the British Army from August 1944 to February 1948 in The Royal Engineers. This included a six months course on engines and pumps at Chatham and twenty months in India. On demobilisation he had attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. He married Joan in February 1951 and they were happily married until his death on 18th August, 2019. They have three daughters and a son.
He made an effort to fill in perceived holes in his education and with the aid of correspondence courses, ticked off chemistry and physics at ‘0’ level and pure mathematics and applied mathematics at ‘A’ level, all as separate subjects. In 1952 he accepted a position in what was then Southern Rhodesia, where his work experience embraced various levels of vehicle, mechanical equipment, civil and electrical engineering. A highlight was to accept a short term position with the ILO/FAO branches of the UN in Burma. The brief was to lecture and instruct on the mechanisation associated with timber extraction.
Fred was appointed as Engineering Instructor in the last half of 1966 to replace Bob Dimond. He made a strong impression during his first lesson by using a 24 inch bobbejaan spanner as a pointer for his chalk diagram. He went on to Blackfordby and Watershed colleges after Gwebi so ultimately taught engineering to hundreds of young men and women. He was an iconic figure in the eyes of his students, they appreciated all the technical and life lessons that they learnt from him. Equally able to dispense a lesson, a joke or a disciplinary spanner – he was a true character that left a lasting impression upon them. This is evident from the many touching tributes that have been received from his former students.
He always maintained a high level of interest in “Things” mechanical as well as motor racing and cycle racing, and in 1942 he became an early member of the London branch of The British League of Racing Cyclists. He twice rode in the Brighton to Glasgow six day stage race, a great sport, before leaving the UK. He has also played football, cricket, tennis and snooker as an adult but lays no claim to being particularly talented at any of them.
Joan worked in Administration at Gwebi College.
Steve Bennett from contributions from Colin Lowe and Fred's son-in-law, Rex Ade from Course 22.
Miss Di Grantham
Di was appointed secretary to the Principal in 1977.
Lou was Farm Manager in the early 1970s
Malcolm D. Hamilton-Ritchie
After St Georges, Malcolm was cadet with the Forestry Commission but they released him during National Service and he signed up the army and served with C Squadron, SAS, in Northern Rhodesia until the Federtaion was disbanded. He was commissioned 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 with Charles Newmarch. Malcolm earned 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.
Malcolm moved to Salisbury South in charge of breeding stock for Arbor Acres in 1974 then moved to India five years later.
He worked in Singapore, Zimbabwe, the UK for 8 years, Papua Niugini, Malaysia and Australia.
Malcolm is in NSW, Australia where he is “in retirement, rushed off my feet”.
Forwarded by Colin Lowe.
Al was an Instructor in Stock Section and accompanied Anne and their daughters to Wales, UK and farmed there after leaving Gwebi at the end of April 1977.
Ray was in the Field Section and continued working within the Department of Research and Specialist Services after leaving Gwebi but has passed on.
G J "Minx" Hillman
Minx joined the Engineering Section as Building Instructor in 1978. He had been with Internal Affairs in the Mrewa district where he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
Stan took up the position of Warden at Gwebi on 17th September, 1956. He was awarded his shooting colours for Rhodesia in 1960 and has moulded many students but would help any that had a problem that needed fixing. He announced his retirement in 1977 but was still serving in 1979.
Pete worked for about three years in Stock Section at the time of Ken Jerrard and Jack Lane.
Pete returned to the UK with his new wife from Salisbury.
Tim Landsberg and Ken Jerrard
Guy was in the Poultry Section at Gwebi.
He had studied at Hopckey Poultry Institute at Harper Adams Ag College from 1961 to 63.
He joined CIBA-GEIGY as sales administrator from 1985 to 88.
Guy and Afra moved to Perth, Australia and he set up ESIX in 2010.
Ken was a lecturer in Animal Husbandry at the College from 1966 to 1973 and shares his story:
“I was born in South Africa but came to Bulawayo with my parents when I was three years old. “I attended Hillside Junior School and Gifford Technical High and then went to Natal University, Pietermaritzburg and studied Animal Husbandry. As a student I worked each Christmas vacation at Matopos Research Station which is where I met my wife to be Shirley Schwim. Shirley was the daughter of Willy Schwim who worked 40 years at Matopos and was a friend and work colleague of a number of the Gwebi staff such as Rodney Mundy, Denis Barnes, Tony Donovan and Paul Kennan who all worked at some point at Matopos Research Station.
“On leaving University I went straight to Gwebi in December of 1966 and took over Lectures from Gerald Boyd-Clarke who was about to leave. Over the years I took on more and more related lecture subjects and covered such topics as Beef, Dairy, Sheep breeds, Pig and Sheep Husbandry, Genetics and others. I had a particular interest in Pigs and Sheep and took over the running of the Sheep flock which was predominantly Black Head Persian (Rodney Mundy’s favourite) and I obtained a Dorset Horn Ram and started what turned out to be an interesting cross breeding programme using Teaser Rams which the Students and I ‘doctored’ and we upgraded the overall production of the flock.
“Having played a lot of Squash at University I continued and played both for Salisbury University, as an external member, and also for Gwebi where we played against various farming and country clubs in the winter league.
“In August 1967 I was called up for nine months territorial military service and in the years ahead had numerous call-ups just as with most others. I was away from Gwebi quite a lot as my military involvement increased and I eventually rose to the rank of Major.
“In 1970 Shirl and I got married and I moved out of the Bachelors’ Mess and we moved into one of the small cottages on Gwebi. Shirl was teaching and had to travel into Salisbury every day.
“In 1973 Rob Stewart, a fellow lecturer from Gwebi, and I both joined Windmill Fertilizers as Agronomists/Salesmen. Initially I was given the intensive farming area from Salisbury to Norton and Salisbury South, but soon after that I was transferred to Bulawayo to cover the whole of Matabeleland as Windmill was moving more into Animal Nutrition and Veterinary lines.
“After 13 years with Windmill I joined United Refineries, initially managing the stockfeed section but later running the whole Refinery. In 1988 I was appointed CEO of Davis Granite, a position that I have held ever since.
“In the meantime Shirl and I had purchased a small 47 hectare virgin piece of land near Matopos in 1975 and developed it into an intensive pig/poultry/sheep family farm which is where we still live today. Shirl and I have two sons Mark now in South Africa, and Ross in Jersey, Channel Islands and both are married, each with a son and a daughter.”
John L Jones
John ran the Piggery as Instructor in the Stock Section. He returned to Wales to retire in July 1977.
Mike joined the Field Section in 1978 and lectured botany and zoology.
He joined Windmill Fertilizer Company when he left Gwebi in 1979.
Peter Keen was lecturer and ran the Poultry section for nearly nine years. He was very active with cricket at Gwebi.
Peter took up a transfer in 1975 to Henderson Research Station with the Poultry Research Unit.
He later worked for National Foods in Harare.
Peter was a former Zimbabwe Cricket Union board member and chairman of the Mashonaland Country Districts Winter Cricket Association, serving on the committee for about 30 years. Don Arnott recalled "The thing that stands out the most about him was his dedication and his total love of the game."
He died on November 25, 2003 at the age of 60 after a long battle with cancer and is survived by his wife Betty and two sons Gavin and Andrew.
P B Kennan
Paul was in the Field Section in the 1960s. He and Margory had three children.
Paul is deceased. Margaret was in Mt Pleasant with Margory and siblings were Patrick and Judy.
Essius Michael Kok was from tobacco farming stock in Inyazura. Antoinette and Moira were his sisters and Stanley his brother. Mike attended Umtali Boys School and he graduated in Agricultural Production at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. National Service was completed with the BSAP and he joined the Department of Conservation and Extension in Gwanda.
Mike transferred to Gwebi College in July 1974 as Lecturer in Animal Husbandry to fill the gap for one year when Steve Bennett was called up to the Army for National Service shortly after his appointment. Mike ran the dairy briefly but his interest was more inclined towards Farm Management so when Peter Chard headed that new section, Mike joined him.
After leaving Gwebi, Mike taught at RTA’s Tobacco Training Institute on Blackfordby Farm and also worked at Rattray Arnold Research Centre. He completed his M.Phil and lectured at the University of Rhodesia/University of Zimbabwe. Blackfordby College of Agriculture was established and Mike became Head.
Over a number of years he taught at Harare Polytechnic Night School, St Georges College, St John’s College and also established ‘Kugona Kurima’ Agricultural Consultants (“Where money grows”).
More recently, Mike was a founder teacher when Greystone Park Academy opened and he taught 'A' Level. Tributes were paid at an assembly after his passing on 26th November 2019 and it was very comforting for his daughters and Sue to hear their appreciation to his dedication.
A bout of colon cancer had been eliminated surgically a few years previously but tragically he succumbed, probably from a heart attack, after prolonged surgery for strangulated hernias at the age of 71. Mike had been married to Sue (née Bennett) in 1981 and they had two daughters but all emigrated to either Australia or the UK a while ago. Mike never contemplated leaving. His love of the country never wavered and his fluency in Shona was exploited during the early days of the MDC opposition party.
Tim graduated with a First Class Diploma and was awarded the Fertilizer Award for the Farm Project in 1962 with Course 12. He lectured in Engineering then spent a few years working on cotton and tobacco at Gatooma Research Station and the Tobacco Research Board. An MBA from Cape Town University led to a job with Shell in Johannesburg. Experience there opened a role with FMC Corporation. Tim was based in Greece and he covered all of Africa except South Africa. After extensive and testing travel he and Christine were transferred back to Johannesburg to run Southern Africa. In 1986 he moved to Melbourne as Managing Director for FMC with responsibility for Australia and South East Asia. In the early 1990’s he left FMC and spent the rest of his working life managing major projects, most commonly related to the food industry. The last big project was the upgrade of a huge abattoir at Rockhampton, Queensland but by then he had had enough of the inside of aeroplanes.
Now retired in Melbourne, Tim visits African wildlife – principally monitoring at Mana Pools - touring around Australia, playing golf and enjoying family time which includes four grandchildren.
Summarised from an article for Colin Lowe.
Jack and Shirley Lane
Walter Jack Valpre Lane was his full name but he was known as Jack. He was so much part of Gwebi’s history having been there since 1948, even before it was an Agricultural College, up to 1972, so probably every student between C1 and C23 knew him.
Jack was born on the 18th December, 1915 in East London, Eastern Province of South Africa and was schooled at the High School in Pretoria and was a boarder for most, if not all of his schooling.
Although Jack was very reticent in talking about his war time experiences it is known that he served with distinction in the Second World War. He was commissioned and served as a Lieutenant with the 7th Armoured Division in North Africa and in Italy where he was wounded. After convalescing in England he landed in Europe on D Day plus one, and served throughout the European campaigns. At some point he was seconded to the Queen’s Royal Regiment and there is very strong evidence that he was the first operational South African soldier to enter Berlin after it had fallen to the Allies. It was in this city where he bought a wristwatch that he wore for the rest of his life.
Upon being demobbed after the Second World War Jack attended Grootfontein Agricultural College near Middelburg in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. He was regarded as 'too old' to be able to utilize the returned serviceman's scheme of going to University and so came up to Southern Rhodesia in 1948 where he was employed at Gwebi when it was still a Research Station. Gwebi Agricultural College opened in 1950 with Course 1 so Jack was 'foundation staff' and was in charge of the practical side of the Animal Husbandry section. This was also the year that Jack married Shirley in Seymour, Eastern Cape and they had two children, Wendy, born in 1952, and Barry born in 1955 and they in turn gave Jack and Shirley four grandchildren.
Most of the staff children in those early years attended school as day scholars with a very efficient 'lift club' organized and run by the Gwebi mothers. Some children from nearby farms were also included. This lift club continued throughout the petrol coupon rationing time with the children remaining oblivious to those challenges.
He was generally referred to as 'Boss Jack' by students or ‘Chimombe’ by the early members of staff. Later Boss Jack was it! Story was that he didn't mind students calling him Jack as long as they included Boss! When the first grandchild came along in 1976 and a few years later started referring to him as 'Boss Jack' Granny Shirley wasn't too amused and said, 'Many people call him Boss Jack but there's only one person who can call him Grandpa!'
He was a well known and registered Judge for both Friesland (Holstein) and the Hereford breeds and was often called upon to judge at the Agricultural Shows. He always enjoyed doing the Show circuit with the Gwebi pedigree cattle at the different agricultural shows held annually throughout the country with attendant volunteers from the student body. Jack was the consummate cattleman and his practical management of all the livestock at the College was imparted to the hundreds of students that passed through his hands, and they in turn, put into practice on their farms what they had learnt at Gwebi from him. Jack, together with Rodney Mundy and the others from the Animal Husbandry faculty, were a formidable team of livestock breeders and the College developed a fine reputation in this respect. Jack loved animals of all sorts, but wasn't that enthralled with sheep. When they stood in a group all facing inwards he claimed they 'were thinking of a new way to die!’
Jack and Shirley’s dogs at home were dachshunds. First Otto and later Hans. Both would invariably accompany him daily to the dairy. The students were forbidden from drinking the milk, fresh or cooled, when on duty, but the dogs would be offered one or the other, and sometimes both, to see which their first preference was! Some students became obsessed with pilfering a glass or two of the forbidden ice cold milk, and this preferential treatment of the Dachshunds seemed to heighten their craving. Consequently they would manufacture an excuse to get Jack out of the cooling room and down to the other end of the dairy giving them the chance to gulp down as much of the this delicious ice cold milk as they could in the ten minutes that he was absent. It was always important for these pilferers to wipe away the dead giveaway of the white tell-tale sign of milk from their top lip.
In the early years Jack played cricket for the College team. He often affectionately referred to Gwebi as the college of limited knowledge. He was quietly spoken, had a dry sense of humour and incredibly patient with students but when they were being particularly stupid, which was a fairly regular occurrence, was heard to mutter, ‘You know, I think my dairy cows have got more brains than you guys!’, but wherever Jack went, throughout his life, he always enjoyed seeing his students. Jack transferred from Gwebi College to the Dairy Branch of Research and Specialist Services during 1972 after 23 years on the staff of the College. With his new role at Dairy Branch he thoroughly enjoyed travelling the country, advising on dairy problems and having contact with numerous ex students. Jack was forced into retirement from Dairy Branch at Independence in 1980 and about a year later he and Shirley retired to Port Elizabeth where they both originally came from. Here they met up with their close and old friends from Gwebi, also retirees, Joyce and James Ferrans.
Shirley had worked at the Hostel at Gwebi as a nurse and in administration.
Boss Jack died in 1990 and Shirley in 2014.
Wendy and Barry Lane.
D A Lang
Derrick was in Stock Section in the 1960s.
Doug G & Ruth Langley (Course 15)
I did not attend Graduation Day as I was working in a new job at Bancroft at Chililabombwe in the northern Copperbelt and decided that I would not get the time off or be able to afford the trip so I received my diploma in the post.
For the next two years I was Farm Assistant on Bancroft Mine Farm owned by Anglo American. The farm was there to firstly supply the mine employees with farm produce so we grew a whole range of vegetables under irrigation, a Jersey dairy herd and broiler chickens. One of my main duties was to help a soil consultant from Lusaka find 5000 acres of land suitable for Cigar Wrapper Tobacco that would be grown by the local people on a small holding basis. I grew this crop on Bancroft Mine Farm on a trial basis to find out if it could be grown. I spent some months with myself, my horse and 16 labourers digging soil pits up near the Congo border. I left Bancroft in 1967 before this project was finalised so do not know what happened but with Zambian Independence happening in 1964 I suspect this was put on the back burner. I had also met Ruth who would become my wife in 1969 and still is in 2017 so decided that a better paid job was required.
I was Farm Manager on Shiwa Estates Ltd at Chisamba. The farm was 4500 acres with a large commercial Friesland dairy herd and a pedigree Sussex beef herd. The crops grown were maize and jack beans to produce 2000 tons of silage per annum to feed the livestock. I left Shiwa Estates due to being offered better employment.
I moved to Good Hope Farm in Chisamba as Farm Manager from 1968 to 1976. The farm was 16000 acres made up of three old commercial farms. Commercial beef breeding herd of 800 females basically of Afrikander type and I imported from South Africa 2 Hereford bulls, 2 Simmental bulls and 2 South Devon bulls to carry out a cross breeding programme.
In April 1976 we left Zambia and emigrated to the UK.
In August 1976 we returned to the then Rhodesia and was employed by Gwebi College as Senior Crop Husbandry Instructor and Farm Manager. I managed and instructed students in all field operations excluding Livestock which were handled by the Animal Husbandry staff. Ruth replaced Glenys Prinsloo in Administration in 1979 and I was Farm Manager until April 1981 at which time I was head hunted and moved to the Lowveld.
Arda Chisumbanji Estate from 1981 to 1983 as Field Manager with 2500 ha. flood irrigated cotton followed by up to 1500 ha. winter wheat with some trials of cassava and seed sugar cane. 400 ha. of this crop was given over to settler farmers who numbered 113 and I was responsible for their cropping programmes.
Zimcor Ltd from 1983 to 2006 on Kent Estate at Norton as General Manager. The Estate was 9,500 ha. of mixed agriculture. In 1983 the estate was basically a major maize producer with a small area of soya beans and a commercial beef breeding herd of Sussex cross type cattle being fattened off fertilized Star grass pastures and sold in April of each year. Ariston Holdings took over Kent Estate in the late 1990’s and I became Managing Director of Ariston Management Services trading as Kent Estate which position I held until 2006. Kent Estate was a producer of approximately 2500 carcases of beef a year fed in a feedlot and fed home grown maize and roughage mixed with a protein supplement. The Estate also produced 1.3 million broiler chickens/annum contracted to Suncrest and fed home grown maize and extruded soya beans, Roses and Hypericum flowers exported to Europe from 5 ha. rose greenhouses and 30 ha. Hypericum. 1100 Ha. Game park selling live game annually, Cropping included Commercial maize, Seed maize Soya Beans, Michigan Pea beans for Heinz, Giant Rhodes Grass for hay and litter and Eucalyptus gum plantations for firewood and poles. At its peak Kent Estate employed 5 managers Ruth being my office manager as well as 600 workers both male and female all of who were housed on the Estate.
In 2006 when I left and emigrated to the UK due to life becoming untenable in Zimbabwe due to Mugabe’s policies (I had already been involved in ceding over to the government 4000 ha. of land for resettlement)
I lived in Devon from 2006 to 2009 and worked for a double glazing company and did odd gardening jobs.
A return to Zambia for four years at Rosebloom Pvt Ltd at Ngwerere on 400 hectares on irrigation growing fresh produce for Pick & Pay supermarkets which were supplied via our large pack shed on the farm and also soya beans and winter wheat. I was asked to come and try and sort out this farm as it had got itself into a financial mess and this I managed to do.
I finally retired for good in 2013 and now live in North Devon with Ruth, who works night shifts as a care assistant, my son lives in a small town called Ossett in West Yorkshire and is employed by a firm called Chrysal that supplies flower foods and other post-harvest chemicals to the flower trade and my daughter lives in Worthing West Sussex and works for the Inland Revenue. They both have 2 kids each, my son has a daughter and a son 14 and 11 years old and my daughter has 2 daughters 14 and 16 years old respectively.
Rob F le Grange
Rob was appointed Lecturer in Animal Husbandry in 1978 having acquired his B Sc Agric in Peitermaritzburg.
He resumed his studies in Cape Town, South Africa in 1979.
Hugh was born in South Africa, grew up in the Cape and graduated at Stellenbosch University.
He attended Cambridge and earned his diploma in Tropical Agriculture at Trinidad and captained the hockey team there.
In 1953 he married Dulcie and they moved to Tanganyika to work in extension.
They left Tanganyika in 1966 and toured South Africa where Hugh was appointed Principal of Gloag Ranch Mission.
Hugh was appointed lecturer at Gwebi in Field Husbandry in January 1967 and was soon promoted to Head of Field Section. He was promoted to Vice-Principal in 1970.
He was appointed the fourth Principal in November 1976 and served six years as head.
Hugh's background is given in detail on the Principals page, click here.
Cuan N McCarthy
Cuan was Senior Lecturer of Animal Husbandry.
He was a South African cricketer who played in fifteen Tests from 1948 to 1951. At six feet two inches (1.88m) tall he was a bowler of genuine pace who could command a deadly off-cutter. He was no batsman and stands as one of the few cricketers who have taken more wickets than they scored runs. Cuan remarried in 1972 to Valerie Joan Parham of the well known Rhodesian tobacco family and they had a son Angus.
He returned to farming in Natal in 1974 and passed away on 14th August 2000 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Bernard "BUD" & Kate Muggleton née Rolfe
Mugs was Bursar in Administration for many years. He was Honorary Vice President of the Old Gwebian Association and Kate was Secretary/Treasurer.
Kate Rolfe worked in Administration providing Secretarial support and in the Library before marrying Bernard.
Mugs and Kate went to Keiskammahoek in 1981 from Gwebi. They moved to East London in 1984 where he worked for the council for several years. They both passed away within about a month in December 2010 and early 2011.
Rod attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 1947 then he was posted to Matopos Research Station before the transfer to lecture Animal Husbandry at Gwebi. Despite his research and academic background, he was primarily a practical man with a strong bias towards Animal Husbandry with a particular fondness for Hereford beef cattle and Holstein dairy cows. Rod, as Head of the Animal Husbandry section, had also been Acting Principal whilst Dr Fielding had been away as an advisor to the FAO and UNESCO in various countries, so his transition into the position of Principal in 1965 was seamless.
Cricket played a big part in his life at Gwebi after the award of a Blue at Oxford. Rod is best remembered as an umpire, sitting for hours on end on his shooting stick in the blazing sun. Tragically, cancer was to intervene and he passed away in July 1970. More information about his life and contribution is on the Pricipals page, click here.
W. Malvin “Don” and "O'D" O’Donovan
“I got married to a girl from South Africa during my last few months at Gwebi. Many will no doubt remember her. We are still together by the grace of God and have been blessed with three lovely, talented children and subsequently with 7 grandchildren. The eldest of which has just written his matric exam. Our eldest child, a girl named Donette, married a Mr. de Beer and they have two daughters both of whom are excelling academically and at swimming. Our second child, a boy, Clarke married a Miss Stone and they have two boys (excellent rugby players) and much later a little girl. Our third child, another boy Charl married a Miss Rothman from Durban. They have a two academically very talented children (a boy and a girl).
”I left Gwebi at the beginning of 1965, after 3 years of lecturing, and joined Dr Dick Elliott at Henderson research station, out on the Mazoe road. Approximately 8 of my happiest, working life, years followed. Dick was a brilliant scientist and a fantastic boss. During my 8 years there I was able to do research under his guidance that eventually enabled a PhD to be conferred on me in 1973. The same was true for Dr Peter Johnson and Dr Eric Cowan. Work done at this fantastic Research unit also resulted in Masters degrees for Johan Zietsman, Isak Groenewald and Peter Rudert. I visited the station recently and nearly cried. There is absolutely nothing left there - all ransacked and not a whole window.
“I also visited Melsetter (now renamed Chimani) in June this year and went and showed my wife the home etc. where I had the privilege of spending my teenage years whilst my dad worked for the Rhodesian Wattle Company as a Forester. WOW, what a revelation! It was totally obliterated by BUSH. The farm has been the subject of a land grab some years ago.
“After a very happy stay at Henderson I came back to South Africa after a “very good” job offer from the company Rumevite. The first couple of years were fantastic with Mr P.K. van der Merwe as my boss. I planned and built for them a second Henderson research unit in Natal of which I was in charge, near a place known as Fort Mistake. However, following a change in the hierarchy of the company the “Broederbond” came into play and changed the entire equation... I just had to resign after 7 years.
“I then joined a Mr Anton Mammes on the West Rand, an entrepreneur involved in the making of animal feeds. He was a true entrepreneur, who unfortunately died of lung cancer in my first year with him. Thereafter I was made CEO of the company that had been left to his Widow. The lady held me responsible for everything but without allowing me any say -the proverbial toothless bulldog. I left after only three years. However, the experience gained there was invaluable.
“The next 10 years saw me trying to establish myself with my own businesses, but I failed and that mainly because I was so naïve. I just had the knack of employing the biggest “rogues” imaginable. Advantage was also taken by my staff of the fact that my elder brother who was helping me, was murdered in our factory one night having survived two farm attacks and a bullet ridden bakkie, whilst travelling in a convoy, in Rhodesia. His was one of the first political Uhuru murders pre / post Mandela’s inauguration as President here in the RSA in 1994. I then left the business.
“After 1995 I consulted to Stock Owners in Natal and was responsible for the dissemination of information and help to the stock farmers in Northern Natal. I had 11 beef study groups under my wing and was responsible for 3 meetings for each group per annum where various invited speakers and topics were on the agenda. I enjoyed this challenge very much and learnt a lot from the best stock farmers in that area.
“My contract with them came to an end in 2002. I was then also diagnosed with the big C (prostate) Since 2002 I have busied myself with consulting to feedlots here and there and starting a small animal feeds business in a little town of Hennenman in the Free State, together with my two sons.”
Don sent this note to Colin eleven years after his diagnosis and, having exceeded his three score and ten, was extremely grateful for what he has enjoyed and achieved. He is undoubtedly strengthened by his strong belief in God.
Don contracted COVID-19 ten years later and was admitted to hospital. Tragically, after a week, his heart stopped beating and he passed away on 22nd October, 2021 at the age of 81.
Frank Percival Orsmond
Frank Orsmond was employed as an Agriculturist at Gwebi when the institution was a Government Experimental and Demonstration Farm in the Department of Lands. He left in 1950/51 and Frank and Verna were presented with this magnificent Smiths Enfield Mantel clock. He had been demobbed from WW2 in November 1946 so Frank may have worked at the research centre for about five years and his departure co-incides with the shift from research to education. Over time, what had been an experimental and demonstration farm became a Gwebi Variety Trials Testing Centre (VTTC), Department of Research and Specialist Services on the college grounds. Colin Atkins was administrating it in the 1970s.
A similar clock was presented to Mr Lilford on his retirement as Chairman of the College Council by Mr Alex Robertson, Chairman of the Gwebi Old Students’ Association in 1958. Mr Lilford had served as Chairman of the Gwebi College Council from February 1950.
Frank and Verna lived next to barns near the old entrance and they started farming at Mazoe after leaving the institute. Subsequently he owned two farms.
Frank was born to 1820 settlers in Bedford, South Africa in 1906 but moved to Rhodesia.
He was working for a farming company as a farmer before serving in the Southern Rhodesian Artillery for 20 months. He was posted as Battery Sergeant Major to the 17th Rhodesian Battery in 1943 when they were deployed for training in Egypt and then had a successful campaign in the liberation of Italy.
His son, Dr Les Osborne, was the veterinarian at Avondale Vet Surgery. Ryan has inherited his grandfather's clock.
Presently, Gwebi Variety Testing Centre (NRIIb) is one of four primary research centres that comprise the Crop Breeding Institute (CBI). The head office is located at Harare Research Centre with responsibility for the development and release of varieties of various field crops.
Cecily was Matron at the Hostel but has passed on. Her daughter was married to Brian Eastwick (Course 12) when he was killed farming at Centenary in 1979.
Alastair Paterson (Course 15)
Alastair enrolled with Course 15 but had to leave for an operation on his back during his second year and decided whilst recuperating to study for a B.Sc. in Agriculture instead. This he did and then went on to obtain his D.Sc. Agric. followed by 3 years lecturing in Animal Husbandry at Gwebi until August 1973.
After 8 years with the Johannesburg Municipal farms, where he developed the Bo-Velder breed of cattle, he moved onto Natal where he consulted with the 7,000 members of Stockowners Livestock Cooperative. Don O’Donovan and Frank Norval (from Bulawayo) were in the consulting team. Alastair has been working as a private Agricultural Consultant from Howick for the past 12 years visiting over 60 countries.
He emphasises that his year at Gwebi was the most constructive and valuable year which contributed significantly to his success in the field. He thanks Jack Lane, Al Hawkes and, at a later stage, Bernard Rhodes for their input into his practical knowledge. He is a director of Nosa Agricultural Services which has updated the Gwebi course developed by Peter Chard (lecturer in Field, Stock and Farm Mangement from Course 23) and markets these courses throughout Africa. The “New Gwebi” is interested in buying and using the course!
John took a year off to complete a M.Sc at Bangor University in north Wales. A few months after returning he transferred to Salisbury with the Department of Research and Specialist Services in January 1977 but lectured until the end of the academic year.
He travelled to Australia with Nicky and John is still engaged in academia in southern Victoria.
Glenys J Prinsloo
Glenys worked in Administration for 13 years.
She left in 1979 to be with her father in Port Elizabeth, Freddie Maisch, after her mother passed away.
Vic Reece (Course 15)
Vic was born in Krugersdorp, South Africa on the 1st June, 1944 into a family of three brothers, Roy, Andre and Eddie and two half-brothers, Quintin and Norman and their sister, Felicity. The family moved up to Gwelo and Vic was schooled at Thornhill High School.
Vic graduated with a First Class Diploma in 1965. He was an excellent cricketer in the classical sense and was one of the mainstays of the Gwebi Cricket team both with his batting and bowling, so much so that Rod Mundy, the Gwebi Principal, persuaded him to stay on at Gwebi after he had graduated in order to bolster the College Cricket XI.
Following Vic’s brief stint at Gwebi as an Instructor on the Livestock section he worked on a dairy farm at Mazoe, then in 1967 on a cattle ranch in the Hartley farming area and finally in 1968 Vic moved to Chipinga for a forestry and cattle operation.
He had met Kate whilst at Gwebi in 1964 and they were married in 1967. Kate was born in Mozambique of German parents but raised in Rhodesia and was the cricket scorekeeper at Old Georgians in Salisbury where Vic played his club cricket along with Eddie Barlow and Colin Bland. Vic was also an avid golfer and played off a 9 handicap. Vic and Kate’s three children were all born in Rhodesia, Heidi in 1969, Liesa in 1971 and Grant in 1972.
In 1973 Vic and his family moved to Benoni, South Africa to work for a Fencing Contractor called ‘Alert Fencing’ and in 1978 he opened his own Fencing Contracting Company called ‘Fensecure’. He served on the Benoni Town Council as a Councillor for six consecutive years, one of which he served as Deputy Mayor. He has a park named after him in Benoni. Vic also served as Chairman of both the Benoni Publicity Association and of the ‘Care of the Aged’, as well as serving on the Commando Council.
Vic passed away tragically in 1998 in a motor vehicle accident in Ellisras, near the Botswana border, whilst travelling to a fencing contract in that country.
Gerda B A Rees
Gerda left Gwebi as Senior Matron to take a new post as Security Officer at Bulawayo Airport in 1973.
After taking early retirement in Northern Rhodesia, Bernard was appointed Senior Lecturer in Animal Husbandry at Gwebi in March 1967. Eighteen months later he also took on the additional role of Vice-Principal.
Bernard succeeded the late Rod Mundy in August 1970 and always maintained a keen interest in Animal Husbandry whilst administering the college. He would be seen walking his spaniel around the paddocks in an evening and shared his vast knowledge with anyone who gave him the time.
Bernard was appointed Project Manager of Keiskammahoek Irigation Scheme in 1976 then a Regional Manager in 1980. Bernard Rhodes retired with Margaret to Ramsgate on the Natal South Coast in 1988. He passed away in 2014 aged 89 years.
His daughter Lindsay is married to Guy Robinson - an Old Gwebian himself and a prominent farmer in the Mazabuka farming area of Zambia.
More information on Bernard's background is on the Principals page, click here.
E A Rowlands (Course 15)
Bucky shares his life story: "On graduating from Gwebi I had a scholarship at a Canadian university to study genetics, so I continued at Gwebi as a Field Instructor awaiting to go to Canada. However the scholarship was withdrawn following UDI, so I decided to stay in agriculture. I was called up to do my army service ... the last four and a half month intake whilst employed at Gwebi. When I passed out of the army I left Gwebi and got a job with John Burl whose son Alan was in C17. We farmed tobacco, pigs, cattle and maize. It was a well-run farm and Gwebi used to go to John’s place on First Year tours. From here I went to Namibia to try my hand at mining ... didn't like it much, at 3000m underground, it was too claustrophobic. Returned home and became an extension officer to small scale farmers east of Enkeldoorn. Whilst here I'd met Robbie in my home town Gwelo. At this time I saw an ad in the Rhodesian Farmer for a farm manager in Angola. I phoned, had an interview and got the job.
"Robbie was 19 we got married and we headed for Angola. I remember I had $5 in my pocket ... it's said, ‘he who knows nothing fears nothing!’ The farm was growing coffee and rice so I continued with this and also grew the first crop of SR52 maize in Angola and also had the first aerial broad acre application of herbicide and the first mechanical maize harvester, a 4-row Claas Senator which Robbie christened "Mealie Muncher". We were pretty fluent in Portuguese within three months and I fired the mechanic and farm assistant also within the first four months and brought in pre-Gwebi trainees to help. My boss was using his father-in-law’s company to fund the farm, they fell out and he had to close the farm ... so back to Rhodesia we headed.
"I then got a job with Robb Truscott at Premier Estates, north east of Umtali, stayed a year and then moved to the lowveld growing cane, and whilst there was approached by SETA to go back to Angola to run their tobacco farms which we did. Civil war broke out in Angola so I sent Robbie and the kids back home and I persisted for another six months before I also baled out to go back to Rhodesia and another war ... this time got a job with Rob Davenport on his seed potato farm north of Troutbeck. We really enjoyed this, but by 1978 two of our neighbours had been attacked, we were more isolated than them and we had 100 head of Afrikaner in-calf cows stolen from us which we had bought on borrowed cash. As we had been applying to go to Australia and been accepted, we said bugger it. I sent Robbie and kids to my brother in Salisbury and I closed the farm down. I then worked for Shell Chemicals until we headed for Australia in September, 1979.
"When we hit Australia I heard about the cotton industry through John Trouncer of Course 14, so we ended up in Moree where an American company Auscott was going to plant their first crop in October 1980. This was the first cotton crop in the Gwydir valley and I graduated from pick and shovel to tractor driving, then to machine assembly as these machines were all new off the drawing board, then to running various agricultural machinery, from land preparation to the picking teams of men – for example at pick time there up to 150 people involved. Most Aussies couldn't handle that number and I could. I was always ready to work seven days a week for whatever the hours were required. At this time Robbie was holding down three jobs during the day and still looking after the kids!
So I knew the machinery side backwards and at this time I was commuting 60km to work. In 1981 an insurance company had bought a cotton property and were developing it for cotton the following year and offered me a job as an agronomist, with a house on the farm so we jumped at it. This ended up more than agronomy and I pretty much ended up running the whole show. No one I asked could give me many of the operating costs, so I started keeping my own and in due course people started asking me.
"A bunch of well-heeled Brits had bought a huge property further west from me and their farm manager used to drop in see what I was doing. He took over from the MD and in 1986 and offered me the job of running their farms. When I joined them we had 2000 ha under cotton and over the next 10 years this grew to 20,000 ha of cotton and 30,000 ha of dryland cropping. We could plant the 20,000 ha in 15 days and pick the crop in 30 days. I had 15 mechanics, 8 farm managers, an onsite accountant, an admin manager and 2 cotton gin managers - we had two Gins, so ginned our own and other growers’ crops. The average field size was 200 ha, 2km wide by 1km long. When on-farm storages were full they had a surface area of 4000 ha. One insecticide aerial application over the area would cost on average Aus$225,000. Relift rainfall runoff and river pumps were in the 100's of megalitres per day. Colly Farms in Collarenebi was a big operation.
"We left after a private Australian bought the company and worked our macadamia farm till 2003 which we then sold. I gave agriculture away, bought a cabin and caravan park and started farming people and took up fishing! I’m still fairly fit and healthy so may do this till I'm 80! Robbie and I have two daughters and a son all between 40 and 50 years old and six grandkids aged between 7 and 16.
Elwin was in Field Section and married to June. In the evening when checking on the crop guards, he gave children of staff members a ride in his bakkie and they would have some cooked mielies on Broadwalk. After leaving Gwebi he worked as manager on a farm in Marandellas for some time, but eventually returned to South Africa being the son of the well-known John Scotts trading store. On his return to South Africa he worked for some years with Douglasdale Dairy in Pretoria, living in Centurion Pretoria and retired with June to a Care Home.
Their children moved away with Jenifer married and settled in Australia, while Anthea married in Johannesburg, and Frank too.
Rob was in the Field Section. He was a young married Irishman and lectured at Gwebi College for about four years and left at the same time as Ken Jerrard when they both joined Windmill Fertilizers.
Mrs Mary F H Sutherland
Mary was in Administration and married Ge Foort in 1976 and changed her surname. They both left for the Netherlands in 1977.
Rex graduated with Course 2 and returned as a lecturer on Crop Husbandry for five years, then was a frequent visitor to the college for decades.
Joseph Rex Tattersfield was born in 1932 in Ontario, Canada.
He obtained a Diploma in Agriculture from Gwebi Agricultural College, Zimbabwe in 1952 and a BSc (cum laude) degree in agriculture from the University of Natal, South Africa, in 1955.
Between 1956 and 1982, Rex was employed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe, as follows:
Gwebi Agricultural College as Lecturer from 1956 to 1961.
Grasslands Research Station as Agronomist from 1961 to 1963
Crop Breeding Institute as Leader, Oilseeds Breeding Team, from 1963 to 1982.
He was employed by Seed Co Ltd between 1983 and 2003 as Head of Research from 1983 to 1993 and then as Senior Plant Breeder from 1993 to 2003.
During his career he has been involved in research in the following fields:
In 1967 he spent three months at the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, U.K, studying breeding methods with special reference to self-pollinated crops.
In 1976 he spent one month in southern Brazil studying soybean research.
In 1984 he visited the United States of America for one month to attend the World Research Conference and visited various soybean research organizations in both the southern and northern United States of America. In 1988 he spent two weeks in Denmark and United Kingdom studying Plant Breeding and Seed Production.
In 1994 he visited Thailand for two weeks to attend World Soybean Research Conference.
In 2001 he spent one week in Edinburgh, Scotland, attending the XV1th Eucarpia Congress on “Plant Breeding Sustaining the future"
He and his wife Sheila made a very important contribution to the oilseed industry and the staff at Rattray Arnold Research Station are continuing this legacy because of their enthusiasm and communication skills during those days. That the Soyabean industry grew up in the southern portion of Africa to the vast industry that it comprises now is attributable to Rex. The deficit in the provision of protein in so many parts of Africa would have been many degrees worse if we still had to depend on fish to supply protein for both stockfeed and human consumption. Rex’s work on this crop was relentless and highly successful. Under his guidance yields rose from less than one tonne to the hectare to a level where four tonnes was achieved and five was becoming possible. After retiring he was in demand in Southern Africa as a consultant soybean breeder and was awarded a Gold Medal by the International Soybean Association for his contribution as a breeder. Despite failing health during a long battle with cancer, he continued to respond to enquiries that came his way.
Sadly, Rex finally succumbed in Cape Town in 2017.
Consolidated from tributes and notices by Southern African Plant Breeders' Association, Dr Tony Donovan, Warwick Hale and Mike Caulfield
Guy graduated at Seale Hayne College and joined Gwebi in 1977 as Instructor in the Stock Section and ran the dairy.
He continued his world travels before returning to the family farm in Dorset, UK in October 1978. He was a Nuffield Scholar and past chair of the Maize Growers Association. Guy is milking 170 cows and serving as a Council member of RABDF.
Mary Jo van Aardt
Mary Jo broke the glass ceiling when she became the first full time female lecturer at Gwebi College. Raised in Kenya and qualified with A.N.C.A from Northants, she relates her story back in the UK. “My boyfriend Louis wanted to go to agricultural college but did not want to attend an English college so came to Rhodesia in 1976, very much the hippie type, love-the-world attitude. He was informed by the Principal that only if he completed national service would he gain a place at Gwebi. So Army was his only option and, being a romantic, he imagined he could be a stretcher bearer and write a book. Soon after joining the Army he became a realist. After completing his military service he worked briefly for Robin Crawford in Mount Darwin before enrolling at Gwebi in 1978 to 1980.
I had come down to join Louis in Rhodesia in August 1978, there is a story there as well, but does not relate to Gwebi. Louis was working then for Robin Crawford and he had just come back from a call up when I arrived. We worked to the end of the month when Robin and Margaret got me a job at the veterinary practice, Drs. Abrey, Sugden, Wright and Lay, and Louis started at Gwebi.
One day, tired of commuting, Louis suggested to me that as I had a Diploma in Agriculture from Northampton Agricultural College and all the lecturers at Gwebi kept being called up, why didn’t I apply for a job as a lecturer. I did and had an immediate response from the Principal, Mr. McLean, to please come for an interview.
After a short interview I was offered the job and invited to view the houses available. Louis and I chose our lovely house and were very happy with that choice. When I returned to inform the Principal that Louis and I had chosen a house, he looked perplexed. I explained that Louis was a student and that I was cohabiting with him, and assumed this would be fine. There was a long pause with the Principal’s brow furrowed in deep thought. Finally he raised his head and looked me in the eye.
‘My dear, I have had to persuade the board to take on our first female lecturer. I am not sure they will also agree that Gwebi’s first female lecturer is also cohabiting with a member of the student body.’
After a long silence he said perhaps he could agree to student van Aardt visiting for Sunday afternoon tea!
I think they were so desperate for staff that as I turned to leave he called me back and said ... ‘However if you were married there would be no argument.’
When Louis asked if all was sorted and when could we move into our house, I said,
‘Well I can, but you can only come for Sunday cake.’
He was very angry and what he said is unprintable. I said McLean would have no objection if we were married.
After some silence Louis, in angry tones, said he would not have some Principal telling him how to run his life and it was no business of his. I agreed and we then drove in silence back towards Salisbury. After some time and rather suddenly, the new realist Louis, thinking of just cake, proposed to me.
I had the job, the house and now my husband!”
James William Walsh was born on 27th December 1923 in Omagh, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, where he attended ‘The Omagh Academy’. A keen sportsman from an early age, Jim distinguished himself in many fields of sport, but principally at cricket and hockey, being selected to play hockey for North-West Ulster schools and was Head Boy in his final year at the Omagh Academy. Jim graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast with a four-year Bachelor of Agriculture Degree in July 1946, having served on the Agrarian Committee at Queen’s 1945 – 1946, and true to form, also represented Queen’s University at hockey. Six months later, he accepted an appointment in Southern Rhodesia as a Conservation Officer with the Department of Irrigation, Ministry of Lands. He had arrived in Cape Town in December 1947 after, in his own words, “an enjoyable two week sea trip on the ’Stirling Castle’ followed by a not so enjoyable three day train journey to the then Salisbury - within a few days I had pitched a tent on a farm some 100 miles to the north of the capital city, where three D6 Caterpillar tractors with graders were constructing land protection measures, such as storm drains, ‘contour’ banks and small earthen water conservation dams.” The start of a long career in Agriculture in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.
He met Audrey Sheila Cawood in Bulawayo and they were married on 24th December 1949. In November 1951, after three and a half years, being stationed in Umvukwes, Bulawayo, M’chingwe, Lower Ngezi, Lower Umgusa and Lower Khami as a Conservation Officer, Jim was transferred to Gwebi College of Agriculture and appointed as the lecturer in Basic Sciences in Agriculture. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in, and Head of, Field Husbandry in 1956. During this time Jim continued to play hockey for ‘Old Hararian’s Men’s 1st XI up to 1959. Jim and Audrey had two children, both born ‘at Gwebi’, Valerie Ann, on the 9th April 1952, and Alan Kevin, known as Kevin, on the 25th April 1957. Tragically, Kevin passed away as a result of a boating accident in October 1995.
On the 1st January 1960, Jim was appointed as founder Principal of Chibero College of Agriculture in Norton, where he worked tirelessly to plan the initial layout of the college grounds and lands, recruit staff and labour, and plan the syllabus, to literally ‘build’ the new college of agriculture from the ground up in the then, Southern Rhodesia. Chibero College of Agriculture was officially opened by the Hon. Sir Humphrey Gibbs in October 1961. In 1964 Jim was the Rhodesian participant at the Cours International sur la formation professionnelle el’enseignmentagricoles - Centre International d’Etudes Agricoles Conference in Switzerland. He was appointed as a Commissioner of Oaths in February 1967 and in August 1969 was appointed as the first incumbent of the post of Chief of the Branch of Agricultural Education in the Department of Research and Specialist Services, Ministry of Agriculture, retiring on 31st December 1981. Administration of Gwebi and Chibero Colleges had been key roles in that role. For his services to the crown he was made a Member of the Order of the Legion of Merit (Civil Division), Zimbabwe, 1997. He was made an Honorary Life member of the Zimbabwe Crop Science Society in 1980 and has his own entry in ‘Who’s Who in the Commonwealth’ First Edition 1982.
In his leisure time, Jim was a member of the Mashonaland Turf Club, serving as a Steward from 1975 – 1994 and a member of the Jockey Club of Zimbabwe, serving as a Local Executive Steward from 1990 – 1993. He retired in December 1981 and became a Trustee of the David Spain Memorial Nuffield Trust; The Courtauld Trust of Zimbabwe; The Rio Tinto Foundation of Zimbabwe; The Rio Tinto Foundation Housing Trust. He was also a consultant to the Windmill (Pvt) Ltd Scholarship and Awards Committee until 1994, and was Chairman of the Caltex Scholarship Selection Committee from 1989 – 1999, only retiring from these posts when he and Audrey left Zimbabwe to join their daughter Val and her son, Chris, in Cape Town in March 2004.
Sadly, Jim and Audrey left behind their two adult Grandsons, Ryan and Scott, sons of Heather and the late Kevin Walsh as well as many other family members living in Zimbabwe. However they then were able to enjoy time in the Cape, being closer to their daughter Val and their other Grandson, Chris Potterton, married to Michèlle and their two sons, Mason and Taylor, Jim’s Great Grandsons. Audrey passed away in February 2010, Jim continued to live in their flat in Lakeside and subsequently at ‘Carlisle Retirement Lodge’ in Fish Hoek till he passed away 13th October 2016, frail but fully compos mentis at the age of 93 and still confident in the firm belief that ‘if his past students didn’t know the answer to a question, they would always know where to find it’.
Tribute from his daughter, Val Mason
B A Walters
Mrs Walters was Matron in the Hostel in the 1960s.
Gerald S Webster
Gerry came from Bulawayo and graduated with Course 27. He was appointed Animal Husbandry Instructor in 1979.
Ron was an Instructor in Engineering and retired in 1978,
Peter "Bolt" Whitworth
Field Instructor and inspired many to play soccer.
"I came to Gwebi in November 1971 and remained there until July 1975 so this time frame encompassed Courses 21 to 25. My family and I sailed on the Union Castle Liner ‘Orange’ from Southampton to Cape Town. We had two cars, a Fiat 500 and an Austin Countryman. We drove these in convoy across the Karoo and the Lowveld via Maseru in Lesotho where we stayed with ex-Malawi friends, eventually arriving at Gwebi at the end of November 1971.
"I was allocated to Field Husbandry and managed the crops as farm manager for a time. Prior to moving to Rhodesia and Gwebi, and having taught agricultural science at Bunda College, part of the University of Malawi for two years, I’d left Malawi to go to Reading University Faculty of Agriculture, completing the three year course in two years.
"My six year old daughter Sarah went to Alfred Beit School in Mabelreign, Salisbury and I started instructing on Crop Husbandry in January 1972 and met for the first time ‘the piccannini bosses’, as the locals called the students.
"What a super place, the course was divided into three departments, spending time equally in lectures and practicals. The course lasted two years after which the successful students were awarded the Gwebi Diploma, maybe with distinctions. Gwebi graduates were always in great demand.
College life was great, very fulfilling and lots of fun. Everybody had a nickname and you must be able to recall members of staff called ‘Mealie Pip’ and ‘Bobbejaan’. Students too had names, passed on from year to year, many funny like ‘Yards’, and some rude and a bit sexist. I myself was ‘Bolt’ after the Whitworth threads.
"I left Gwebi in 1975 to go as a senior lecturer at Gwelo Teachers’ Training College, an all-black college, but unfortunately I could see what the future was going to be, and driving over a landmine when I was visiting students doing their teaching at a lonely mission school was the last straw. So I returned to England where I taught at a school in London, setting up a city school paid for by holding two gymkhanas a year which bought a tractor, a baler and various tame farm animals.
"My experience gained in Rhodesia stood me well when I was working later in China and Russia but that is another story like my three years in the Sahel in Northern Nigeria working for the World Bank. It hadn’t rained for ten years which caused many problems. The biggest one was Nigerian men whose philosophy in life was that work in the fields was invented by God for women to do, like bearing and rearing children. When I left after three years the farmers were doing what they should be doing, farming well, taking note of conservation, irrigating from artesian wells and above all making money honestly.
"Nearly twenty years after leaving Gwebi, Peter Chard and I set up a similar course at Watershed College, Marondera.
"On my final return to England I worked for five years at the secondary school in the village of Compton, Berkshire where I live alone. Sadly my wife, Jane, died after only fifteen months here so I brought my children up alone. They are now all in Australia or working overseas in Africa and Asia. During my thirty years in Compton I have been a Governor of the secondary school and primary schools in the village. I am Vice Chairman of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, Chief Judge in the annual village flower and vegetable show, in the dramatic society and refereed the local football team on a Saturday until I was seventy years old. So now I have eventually retired at the age of eighty-five. Whew!!"
Abbreviated from an autobiography by Steve Coleman C14
Richard attended Churchill School from 1950-54 and enrolled with Course 9 at Gwebi College in 1957. He was awarded the Farmers Co-op Prize for Progress in his First Year and graduated in 1959. He was in the Stock Section at Gwebi and worked for Conex, Ministry of Agriculture for twenty years and was at Mayo before moving to Salisbury and was associated with the college over much of the time. Richard completed his BA (Ed) at the University of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in 1982. Richard was Chairman of the Grasslands Society of Zimbabwe. He was probably best known for the years spent developing and managing ART Farm as Director from 1985, which is still in operation today. He also featured in the Farmer Magazine with his popular often humorous Bottom Line contribution every week, which many turned to read first before reading the rest of the magazine. A book titled "The Bottom Line" was published and is enjoyed by those who leaf through cherished old days again. Richard was also a Trustee of the CFU for a number of years and his services in keeping the Union on track were greatly appreciated. He always kept a keen eye on the Union, even after he left and continued to give useful and wise advice. He went on his own as a consultant after having his home and land taken in Mazoe.
After moving to New Zealand he retired in 2013 in Gisborne & Hawkes Bay. He passed away on 6th February 2017 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer leaving Venetia, and his family - daughter Louise and Bruce Stobart, and son Nicholas and Alison Winkfield and grandchildren.
In memory and recognition of the immense contribution made to Zimbabwean Agriculture by Richard, the Agricultural Research Trust is renaming the Agricultural Training and Development Centre as The Winkfield Auditorium at a ceremony to be held at A.R.T. Farm on 15th June 2017. Richard and Venetia's daughter, Louise, and her family will be in attendance.
John Petheram, Colin Lowe, ART, and Peter Steyl/CFU President
Mike stopped over at Gwebi during his world travels and lectured the sciences in Field Section in mid-1970s. His next destination was New Zealand.