Angel Flight – helping people from rural and remote areas to access medical treatment

Sherwood Probus Club’s Guest speaker for June was Barry Collis, OAM – an Earth Angel for Angel Flight. Angel Flight is not to be confused with Care Flight or the Flying Doctors. They do not carry medical equipment or offer medical services. According to the Angel Flight website Angel Flight Australia is a charity which coordinates non-emergency flights to assist country people to access specialist medical treatment that would otherwise be unavailable to them because of vast distance and high travel costs.

M2650 John with pilot Neil Richardson
Pilot and passengers – Image courtesy of Angel Flight website

Their role is to transport people to major centres so they can access medical treatment. Barry explained that Angel Flight was started by Bill Bristow, a former pilot, based on a scheme he saw in the USA.

Anyone requiring assistance from Angel Flight has to complete an application form, which is authorised by a registered health officer or social worker. It can take up to a week to coordinate air and land transport. We heard many examples of people who had been helped, including one passenger who had made 32 trips from Chinchilla to Brisbane for dialysis treatment. The longest flight arrangement involved 4 planes to transport a passenger between Coolangatta and Hobart.

Australia-wide Angel Flight has 3362 pilots who supply and maintain their own aircraft, and 4607 Earth Angels, who meet incoming flights and take passengers either to hospitals or their accommodation. Pilots who offer services on behalf of Angel Flight only receive reimbursement for petrol – this consumes approximately 80% of their funds. Everyone is a volunteer. The service receives no government funding and relies on donations and some fundraising by supporters. It does not pay for advertising itself – costs of any advertising are donated.

Barry’s presentation included photos of the many types of planes used by volunteer pilots. These included Cessna 18L and Cirrus SR22.

Club member Brian thanked Barry for his talk which highlighted the wonderful service that Angel Flight offers to the Australian community and presented him with our Certificate of Appreciation and gift.


There’s more to bees than honey

Sherwood Probus Club’s guest speaker for May was Trevor Weatherhead, AM. After 16 years working in the Forestry Department and 5 years in the Bee Section of the Department of Primary Industries, Trevor and his wife started their own beekeeping business in 1988. This business focussed on queen bee raising and honey production. Trevor maintained his involvement with industry groups receiving many industry awards over the following 24 years, as well as Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Many interesting facts emerged from Trevor’s illustrated talk. There are over 24,000 beekeepers Australia-wide, with around 650,000 hives. The numbers in Queensland are 4,500 and 120,000 respectively. Most honey comes from trees and average annual Australian production is 20,000 tons worth $100 million.  Around 40% of this production is exported. As well as honey, bees produce other goods such as pollen, beeswax, royal jelly, and propolis which has anti-bacterial properties.  In response to a question Trevor described the anti-bacterial properties of honey, especially Manuka. He considered some varieties of Australian Manuka honey to be superior to New Zealand varieties.

Honey display_2
Honey tasting and product display
Club member Beth tasting the honey







Trevor explained that 65% of Australian crops require honey bees for pollination. Total crop value is worth $8.35 to $19.97 billion. These crops range from watermelons, pumpkins, sunflowers, onions, kiwi fruit, to canola and almonds.  In Victoria almond growers pay $100 per hive to ensure their trees are pollinated. Trevor pointed out that, despite the large number of crops dependent upon honey bees, biosecurity has been overlooked. Forest fires and asian bees are two main problems faced by beekeepers.

Most members took advantage of the extensive honey tasting and display of different products during morning tea.

Glenda de Baar moved a vote of thanks, on behalf of members, and presented Trevor with a Certificate of Appreciation and gift.


Sherwood Probus learn about Hyperbaric Medicine

Hyperbaric Medicine is used to treat a range of medical problems: wounds from diabetic ulcers to promote their healing; bone damage due to radiation; flesh eating bacteria; thermal burns; crush injuries; decompression injuries (bends); and osteomyelitis. Karren Simpson, a registered nurse with 15 years experience in hyperbaric medicine, who works as the Liaison Officer for the Wesley Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine (HM) was Sherwood Probus Club’s guest speaker at its April 2018 meeting.

At the start of her presentation, Karren illustrated the development of HM up to the installation of the Hyperbaric Chamber in the Wesley Hospital in 1998. HM was initially used to treat Caisson Disease or bends, first noticed in workers digging deep foundations for bridge caissons.

pressure-gauge-3109005_960_720Tissues go hard and can’t receive oxygen in diabetic and radiation injuries. Treatment involves pressuring patients (equivalent 14-18 metre depth) and giving them pure oxygen.  Under pressure, blood plasma takes in more oxygen making it available to the wounds.

Although the slides demonstrating a variety of wounds before treatment were somewhat confronting, we were then shown the same wounds after they had been treated and the results were most reassuring.

Guest speaker re Hyperbaric med_ed

Treatment at Wesley Hospital is covered by Medicare, but members were advised to check their entitlements with private health insurance providers.

Margaret Stevens thanked Karren for her fascinating and instructive talk and presented her with a Certificate of Appreciation and gift.



Bouncing back – a motivational story

Stephen Dale was the guest speaker at Sherwood Probus Club’s April meeting. His talk was entitled Bouncing Back Champion.

In 1989 at age 21, Stephen fell 30 feet down a cliff onto rocks. This resulted in severe head and spinal injuries, multiple heart attacks, torn internal organs and he suffered a stroke while in a coma. His family was told that, if he survived, Stephen would live a life of pain and dependency.

How had it come to this for someone who was a nice boy? He was bullied at school had turned to drugs and alcohol and extremely risky behaviour. At the age of 20 his life hit rock bottom.

After his accident Stephen spent a year in 4 different hospitals, had multiple operations, experienced unbearable pain. He lost over 45kg in weight as well as many cognitive skills. At this point, Stephen realised that there was one ability remaining in life: the ability to make a choice. He could either give up or fight to build a new life.

He designed ways to recover, which he did over a period of 10 years. He is now teaching people how to transform their lives and build a new future. He does this through his Resilience and Mental Health Workshops, which are presented in many organisations such as schools, sporting clubs and Government institutions. He relates his story in his book Bouncing back when you hit rock bottom. 

Gil Bambrick thanked Stephen on behalf of the Club for sharing his story and presented him with our Certificate of Appreciation and gift.


Australia and the Boer War

Sherwood Probus Club’s February guest speaker was Lt. Col. Ron McIlwaine, OAM, RFD, ED (Retd), whose military career was as an electrical engineer. Since his retirement he has been President of the RSL sub-branch; President of the Queensland War Memorial Committee and President of the Queensland Military Memorial Museum. He has had a special interest, and involvement, in the creation and installation of the Boer War Memorial in Canberra.

In his talk Why the Boer War is important to Australia, he pointed out that the Australian troops who went to war prior to 1902 were colonial troops and were paid by the British Government. After Federation in 1901, the soldiers who went to South Africa in March 1902 were the first Australian Federation Force. It never fired shots in anger.

Except for John Monash, all the major Australian Officers in the First World War served in the Boer War and 15% of the Anzacs at Gallipoli were Boer War veterans. The term Fathers of the Anzacs therefore refers to Boer War soldiers.Boer War Memorial

Ron referred to the problems of raising $4.2 m to erect a Boer War Memorial in Canberra; this was officially opened by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, AK, MC (Ret’d) on 31 May 2017. The resulting memorial, however, is a magnificent representation of 4 Boer War horsemen on their horses on patrol traversing a typical South African landscape. You can find out more about the War itself, the soldiers who served and the memorial at the Boer War Memorial website (, which is where the photo of the memorial is located. You can also find out more by visiting the Australian War Museum website (

The last major battle of the Boer War was on 4 January 1902 at Oververwach Hills. Berry_and_MacFarlane_Monument,_Boer_War_Memorial_at_Sherwood A Sherwood Memorial to Berry and McFarlane, commemorates 2 of the 17 Australians killed in that battle. A commemorative ceremony is held each February.

Ron explained that his interest in the Boer War was sparked by his grandfather who served in South Africa. On another personal note, one of our members is Ron’s distant relation.  Members also were reminded of the Boer War movie, Breaker Morant. Shirley_vote of thanks

Shirley Hamilton moved a vote of thanks to Ron for highlighting yet another part of Australia’s fascinating history.


Sherwood Probus learns about Madame Mallalieu/Willmore

At our January meeting, Dorothy Eyears introduced our Guest Speaker – Professor Peter Roennfeldt, previously Director of the Qld Conservatorium at Griffith University and now a staff member, with a special interest in Musical Heritage and significant buildings.

Professor Roennfeldt  shared with us the story of Madame Henrietta Mallalieu/Mrs Willmore (1842-1938), one of Queensland’s first colonial musicians.

He covered the life of this remarkable woman which was documented in his book. He recounted the story of her three marriages, the three houses where she lived in Brisbane, and most importantly her contribution to musical life of early Brisbane.

Born in London, she and her sisters were all self taught musicians. In 1862 she unknowingly married a bigamist by whom she had a son before she became aware of her situation. She moved to Cheshire, married Alfred Mallalieu, and migrated to Brisbane in 1864. Henrietta and Alfred had 3 daughters but their marriage broke down when Alfred went to Sydney in 1875. Throughout this time, Henrietta continued with her musical endeavours. In 1884 she married W.G. Willmore who appeared more interested in her daughter Beatrice than her. He left for Canada, she sued for a judicial separation, won and obtained all his property including their house at Toowong. This house subsequently became a CWA Hostel for Country Woman Students for over 35 years.

Mme Mallalieu_ed

Madame Mallalieu was a highly skilled pianiste and her first solo performance was in 1866. In 1872 with violinist R.J. Jefferies and other members of his family, she travelled extensively in Southern Queensland, giving numerous concerts, either as a soloist or with members of the Jefferies family.

It was through her husband, Walter Willmore, that Henrietta was introduced to the organ, not a typical instrument for a woman to play. She became the first woman theatre organist. A highlight of her career was performing at the opening of the Melbourne Exhibition Building in 1881. She was organist for the Brisbane Presbyterian Church on Sunday mornings, and gave concerts in Brisbane Exhibition Building on Sunday afternoons. Her husband had been instrumental in the purchase and installation of the organ in the Brisbane Exhibition Building, which Henrietta was the first to play on. This organ was later installed in the City Hall. As well as concerts, Henrietta had an active teaching schedule.

Henrietta was active in Women’s Electoral League and was rewarded with a medal from the King of Belgium for her assistance in World War I. She was associated with the Women’s College at The University of Queensland, where a Memorial Chair remains in her honour.

Although Henrietta may not have been particularly successful in her personal life, she was highly successful in her musical career. Several members purchased a copy of Peter’s book to find out more about this inspiring woman.

Brian Stevens, a classical music lover appreciated the talk and moved a vote of thanks and also presented a Certificate of Appreciation and gift.

Sherwood Probus Club has a varied and interesting suite of guest speakers at its monthly meetings, thanks to Dorothy Eyears, who organises our meeting program.

Sherwood Probus has a great start to 2018

It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the end of January. Sherwood Probus Club has had a great and varied start to 2018.

On 5 January, over 30 members got up early to enjoy a New Year champagne breakfast at the Oxley Creek Common on Sherwood Road at Rocklea. Oxley Creek Common covers 115 hectares, although most of this is not accessible to the general public. According to, the Common is “a serene patch of bird-inhabited wetland in the midst of an agricultural and industrial area.” There are two easy paved walking trails as well as picnic facilities and amenities. One trail leads from the picnic area and Red Shed and splits into two before ending at two different bird habitats. 180 plus species of birds have been recorded there.

Our group, however, didn’t venture on the walking or birdwatching trails – we were too busy catching up after the Christmas/New Year break. The weather was kind and we relaxed in the shade of the pavilion adjoining the Red Shed while breakfasting and chatting. Our traditional fare included bacon, sausages, eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, bread rolls, and a wide variety of fresh fruit: mangoes, strawberries, apricots, watermelon. We had whetted our appetite with champagne and juice and finished off with tea and coffee.  It was a really enjoyable and relaxed way to start the New Year.

Our next adventure was to a Greek Island, transplanted into the middle of QPAC’s Lyric Theatre, where we sang along to the music of ABBA.  I’m talking about the musical Mamma Mia, of course. This was vibrant, high energy and fast-paced entertainment.  The costumes, lighting effects and music were excellent. The production included the majority of ABBAs famous songs; the words were so well-known that the audience joined in, especially in the encore. Audience members stood up, clapped and sang along. We all left feeling uplifted with the music ringing in our ears.

Mamma Mia_edOur guest speaker at our January meeting was Professor Peter Roennfeldt, who shared with us the story of Madame Mallalieu/Mrs Willmore.  This was a really interesting talk and is the subject of a separate post.

Club activities move into full swing from February. Meetings for the book group, scrabble, mahjong, and the gardens group have already been scheduled.  Our first tour for the year is to the Mao’s Last Dancer exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane.

Sherwood Probus Club has been going strong since it was established in 2000: many lifelong friendships have been developed over that time.  If you’re retired or semi-retired and looking to join a welcoming and active group, come along to one of our meetings. We look forward to meeting you!

Beneath the Blades

Sherwood Probus Club’s guest speaker for September was David Earley. David grew up in Brisbane but has spent many of his adult years working overseas as a helicopter pilot. He began flying training in 1965, gained his wings as an Army helicopter pilot in 1968 and then served 1969/1970 in Vietnam. He worked for a considerable amount of time in Papua New Guinea, firstly as pilot and manager of an international volunteer Christian linguistic research and translation organisation (SIL) and then as Chief Pilot of Pacific Helicopters during an intense period of oil exploration. Relocating to Australia he became CEO of Reef Helicopters based in Cairns and operating in the Torres Strait.

As a pilot for 46 years, David has flown airplanes and helicopters in some of the most inaccessible, demanding places on earth. He recounted his story in his book Beneath the Blades. Flying at the ends of the earth: a pilot’s journal. 

In his talk, David described his experiences flying in remote areas and the range of work he carried out or managed. This ranged from contracts for defence, aeromedical retrieval, police, border protection and marine pilot transfer. Particularly moving was his description of his time in Vietnam; he commented that the impact of his service there gets worse rather than better. He shared with members his recent diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Throughout all these years his wife Nancy has been by his side.

On behalf of members, Harvey Dale thanked David for his very interesting talk and presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation and gift.

David Earley & Harvey_ed
David Earley and Harvey Dale


National Parks of the World

At our Sherwood Probus meeting on 19 August, Dorothy Eyears, our speaker coordinator, introduced Tony Groom. She outlined his many achievements and lifelong involvement in National Parks which included a Churchill Fellowship to study National Parks in USA and Canada and extensive involvement in establishing the chain of National Parks on the Scenic Rim. Tony was accompanied by his daughter, Lisa Groom. The Groom family is well-known for establishing Binna Burra and introducing many innovative environmental programs in Lamington National Park.Tony & Lisa Groom

Entitled National Parks of the World, Tony concentrated on their many benefits–a gene pool of nature for future generations; a pleasure ground for people; a sanctuary where nature can help those battling mental problems. Parks can generate significant economic value for a region. For example $1½ million was raised in entry fees for a Nepal National Park which supports a school for 3500 Sherpas.

National Parks vary widely throughout the world and range from Western USA, including Zion and the Grand Canyon, to the animal parks of Africa, and the mountains of South America. European parks offer food, wine and beautiful scenery, whereas New Zealand offers excellent walking tracks in parks which cover 20% of the country. Australia offers its unique animal and bird life.

Some National Parks are best seen in particular seasons, e.g. Autumn in Arcadia in Maine, North East America; the snow covered mountains of British Columbia in Winter. Most parks worldwide come to life in Spring as seen in the wild flowers in Western Australia.

Zion National Park
Zion National Park (image from World at my Feet, Boolarong Press)

A wonderful slide show of images of Parks from around the world played in the background as Tony spoke. At times these images were accompanied with music. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor accompanied slides of the soaring cliffs of Yosemite National Park (1st in the world). Tony ended his talk with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from the 9th Choral Symphony, a glorious accompaniment to photos of Zion National Park. What an uplifting start and end to a presentation! Many members took the opportunity to purchase Tony’s book World at My Feet which features many photos that were included in the slide show.

World at my feet bookMoving a vote of thanks and presenting a gift and the Club’s Appreciation Certificate, Neil Bacon summed it up:  “That was great.”

As an aside, anyone wishing to hear these pieces of music again, on Youtube you will find the Bach played on the organ – this is supposedly the best ever recording. There’s also a fantastic Flashmob recording of the Ode to Joy.

Two boys and one pair of thongs

What do two boys and one pair of thongs have to do with a guest speaker at Sherwood Probus Club? Our guest speaker in June was Rhonda Faragher, a mathematics educator, who shared a photo of her welcome in East Timor by two boys who shared one pair of thongs: one wore the right thong and the other wore the left one!


Rhonda Faragher_v2

Rhonda went to East Timor at the invitation of fellow educator, Dr Jo Brady, a Jesuit nun who was involved in training mathematics teachers in East Timor. Rhonda was tasked with writing a mathematics curriculum for the teachers’ training college.


She not only shared her experiences of working in East Timor but illustrated these with a wide range of photos: these included photos of the teachers’ training college, students playing sport, especially soccer, and the amazing scenery. This physical map of East Timor comes from Ezilon maps.

Times are tough , but the East Timorese have a thirst to learn and break the cycle of poverty. Some students were willing to walk for two hours to get to school.

Rhonda’s talk was extremely inspiring and we wish the students and East Timor well in the future.