Gerald left school at 15 and went to work in an insurance company. Starting as “Tea Boy” he worked his way up to become State Manager of a global insurance company. In 1983, with a number of his seven children through school, he and his wife Bridie decided that although he needed to work, the time was right to work for something more worthwhile. Enter Save the Children Fund (STCF). Having seen an advertisement for State Manager he applied for the position at STCF where he worked for the last 17 years of his working life.
STCF is an international charity started in 1919 by a young English woman called Eglantyne Jebb. Miss Jebb was on a tour of Europe after the First World War and saw children in the streets who had lost their homes along with their parents and families. When she returned to England she set up the charity which is now recognised all over the world.
There are branches of STCF in every State of Australia. In addition to support for children at home, STCF Australia supports its close neighbours. In Gerald’s case that was Bangladesh and Cambodia. In addition to fundraising events, Gerald and his team supported 11 charity shops across SA stretching from Victor Harbor to Elizabeth.
Money raised from these activities went to many worthy programs. One important program Gerald started was a school breakfast program at selected South Australian primary schools to ensure that young children were receiving adequate nutrition to support their learning.
Gerald also visited STCF overseas programs in Bangladesh and Cambodia where he gained first-hand knowledge of their problems. He was able to take many photos and quickly became known on the speaker’s circuit for his entertaining and informative talks. One of the highlights of talking to groups such as Lions and Rotary was that STCF was able to buy a number of treadle sewing machines to assist Bangladesh women to sew for others with the proceeds supporting their families. STCF also employed a teacher to teach these women to read and write. They had a joyous and tearful graduation ceremony where the women all signed their names rather than mark with an X.
In travelling to Cambodia he became aware of the terrible impact of land mines. Cambodia although not at war, shares a border with Vietnam. The border had been heavily lined with land mines. Seeing the number of innocent men, women and children who had lost limbs affected Gerald deeply. He joined the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines.
In recognition of his efforts, in 2000 in Sydney, Gerald was presented with the Save the Children Fund Award by Princess Anne. This is not an award given regularly, Gerald was only the 36th person to receive the award. In 2002, he was awarded an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) for services to the country.