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Willoughby Living

Humans of Willoughby: Don Wilson

November 2, 2018

“I was born near Lithgow at the start of the Depression. Three months after I was born the local cement works closed down and Dad went on the dole, which was seven shillings and six pence (75 cents) a week. We were evicted from the house and were literally on the street. I left school at 15 and did a mixture of things – tailoring, rabbit trapping, the railway on the pick and shovel, and failing as a vacuum cleaner salesman. In 1959, I started my own business in Sydney called Australian Linen, with financing from Waltons – a major retailer at the time. We employed 130 salaried salesmen. By the late sixties, regional shopping centres first appeared and more people had cars and became mobile. Women obtained jobs and were out during the day, so the door-to-door selling of essentials started to become obsolete. I then started an equipment hire business, which was very successful. After retiring, my wife Marianne and I joined Clive Park Bushcare Group, supported by Willoughby Council. Bushcare had a low profile and few people at that time knew what it was, so we organised Bushcare’s Major Day Out. It started with one group of 55 volunteers, including our current Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, current Mayor of Willoughby, Gail Giles Gidney, and then Willoughby Mayor, the late, great Pat Reilly. We talked Bushcare to anyone who would listen, and the number of groups increased every year until every state in Australia was represented. I received numerous awards for this, including the Citizen of the Year Award in 2014 from Willoughby Council. I have always been an empire builder, and I like a lot of people around me. Since being inspired by Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste, I have become passionate about doing something to clean up the environment, so I’ve recently started a new initiative called Get Fitter With Litter.  I am fitter than most people 20 years younger than me, but there is nothing special about me. I go to the gym twice a week and do a lot of walking – getting fit while picking up litter. If I can do it, you can do it. If you are not physically active, be kind to your body, get out and walk. If you don’t use it you lose it. Take a bag and pick up litter. If you are reasonably fit and want to get fitter, our fast exercise program will do the job for you. See our website, www.getfitterwithlitter.org for more details. This is an easy, no cost, convenient way to increase your fitness, and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel. And you will have the added satisfaction of knowing that the plastic you pick up will not kill a fish or a bird. Community spirit is very strong in Willoughby. Our area has a very peaceful feel as well as a dynamic get-up-and-go spirit. So now I’d like to urge everyone to think about what they can do. They can boycott products presented in plastic, buy recycled goods and goods in recycled containers. And don’t walk past litter. Pick it up when going about the daily routine. Or, for better aerobic fitness, see the website and join the Get Fitter with Litter initiative!” DON WILSON, 88-YEAR-OLD ENVIRONMENTALIST

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