• Addresses 2016

Addresses to ProbusPerthWA, 2016

Click on the topic to go to the talk summary.

Year Date Speaker Topic
2016 8-November Elton Brown Dick Whittington & His Cat: the Real Story
11-October John Garde An Artist’s Life
13-September Georgina Ryan Macular Degeneration
9-August Fran Taylor Running Away to Sea in the 20th Century
12-July Linda Bettenay Some Recent Western Australian Books and the Stories Behind Them
14-June Michael Lewis Why Make a Will?
10-May Dr Leo Laden “A Funny Thing happened on the Way to the Clinic”
12-April Irene Comino Shen Yun—the Renaissance of Traditional Chinese Culture
9-February Dr Sasha Voss Insects and Crime




Elton Brown

This talk discussed the children’s story book character, who in reality was not a poor orphan but the third son of Sir William Whittington, the lord of the manor of property in Gloucestershire, England.

The story is largely fiction, but does contain some facts surrounding the life of the real Dick Whittington, particularly that he did marry his sweet heart Alice and he did become rich and famous. He did serve three terms as Lord Mayor of London and was influential during the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, being a major contributor in financing the Wars against the French, e.g. The Battle of Agincourt.

He died without an heir and left his vast fortune in trust administered to this day by his Guild, namely the Mercers for the benefit of the citizens of London.

To-day the main beneficiary is the Whittington Hospital in Highgate, London, built on the site where the fictitious Dick Whittington heard Bow Bells ring out the chimes “Turn Again Whittington , thrice Lord Mayor of London”.

There is no statue to Dick Whittington on Highgate Hill except a sculpture of a large black cat gazing across the road to the hospital, but some of the audience were surprised to learn that there is a statue of Dick Whittington in London Court, Perth.

 Peter Medd



John Garde

John was born in Adelaide in 1949, son (although he only became aware of it later) of a famous painter father, Owen Garde (1919-2008), who was himself taught by Max Meldrum. John spent his childhood there, part of it as John Tinka, before moving to Seaforth (Sydney) in 1967, where he attended Manly Boys’ High. From an early age he greatly admired the art of Rembrandt, and also Cezanne, among others. He absorbed much from the paintings in the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Having left school and become a painter, over several stages John came to learn much technique from his father, also travelling several times to Europe to closely view the masters. He is married to Sue, who pursues a more modern style of art, different from John, who is wedded to realism, both in portraits and landscapes, always trying to capture tone and atmosphere.

John and Sue now work from Dunsborough and have a comprehensive website at http://www.tinkahill.com.au/ [click it] which is worth a prolonged browse.

John spent the last part of his talk blocking (in/out?) a portrait of our Peter Medd, who sat thoughtfully while John explained the many surprising techniques he was using to achieve his effects. It was an enjoyable and instructive talk, well received. The vote of thanks was given by Kathy Grocock, whose daughter John had taught at MLC, Perth.

Ned Overton



Georgina Ryan

Georgina Ryan, WA Education Officer of the Macular Disease Foundation, gave a comprehensive talk on the nature of macular diseases, based largely on her mother’s experience of the condition, and offered four ways to protect oneself from its ravages. The macula is a central part of the retina of the eye, near the optic nerve, and is about 4mm in diameter. Degeneration of the macula leads to progressive loss of central vision of that eye, but does not affect peripheral vision (this is glaucoma); each eye is affected independently.

Symptoms of the condition include difficulty with reading, problems recognising faces, empty spaces in the centre of one’s vision and distortion of actual straight lines. Georgina showed the Amsler Grid and gave out copies. This tool shows up these sorts of problems when each eye is tested separately.

Some one in seven Australian over 50 has some evidence of the disease, increasing to 1 in 3 by age 80. There are two main forms of the condition: the dry form, resulting in a gradual loss of vision, and the wet form, characterised by a sudden loss of central vision, requiring immediate medical treatment; early detection of this form is vital. While there is no treatment for the dry form (though diet and lifestyle help), three drugs are available for the wet form, two of them on the PBS, for injection into the eye to reduce problems created by abnormal blood vessels in and around the affected macula.

There are four ways we can help protect ourselves from the condition:

  • Have our eyes checked every two years at most;
  • Test each eye separately on the Amsler grid for abnormal line displacements, central dark spots and/or crooked lines;
  • Shade our eyes from the sun with glasses and/or broad-brimmed hat; and
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, with leafy green vegetables (spinach), omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, etc.), low GI foods, etc.

The Macula Disease Foundation has an excellent website at www.mdfoundation.com.au, where more comprehensive information is available.

Ned Overton



Fran Taylor

Fran Taylor was born on the Clyde in Scotland and emigrated to Australia in 1966 as a “£10 pom”. Her varied career culminated in her becoming a contracts engineer in the oil and gas industry following the completion of a Bachelor’s degree at Edith Cowan University.

She had always been interested in the sea. At 14 she went on a cruise in the infamous Dunera, which brought many Jewish migrants to Australia during WW2.  Fran wanted to join the Merchant Navy on leaving school, but was told at an interview that this was impossible: “You are a girl”; the encounter still rankles.

Fran gained a birth on the tall ship Leeuwin in 1989, and here her feelings crystallised. Shortly afterwards, she sailed in the HM Bark Endeavour ‑ England’s bicentennial gift, a replica of Captain Cook’s boat ‑ to Australia, completing three voyages along our East Coast, one on our West Coast and also to New Zealand.

Fran then described her experiences during its six months’ voyage in 2004-5 from Whitehaven in Cumbria via Antigua, the Panama Canal, the Marquesas, Tahiti and a very blustery Cook Strait to Sydney.

A review of her book, “Wind in my Wings”, well captures her mood during the journey: “Taylor knows and loves Endeavour, and as the ship wends its way homeward after three years of wandering to a more sedate existence at a Sydney museum dock, one can feel Taylor’s empathy for the ship, and a sense that her sailor’s heart beats along with the heart of the vessel itself.”

This book gives an account of that trip. Fran has also written another book, “Ships that Pass in the Night”, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Fran’s talk was very bracing, showing what you can achieve by pursuing your dream with single-mindedness. She offered both her books to members. For those who missed it, go to her website, http://www.windinmywings.com/.

Ned Overton




Linda Bettenay, July 2016

Local hills author and publisher Linda Moore, who writes under her maiden name of Linda Bettenay, entertained members with an informative and passionate talk on some of her recent books.

Ms Bettenay spoke first about how she gave up her teaching career and inadvertently became the editor of the Roleystone Courier magazine. She honed her writing skills over the years, remaining editor to this day and has gone on to write three books based on true stories from her own and her husband’s families.

Ms Bettenay’s topic found great resonance with members. Linda introduced her new novel, “The Apple Core Wars”, a tale based on the astounding war experiences of Charlie Parkin, one of seven brothers to serve during World War Two. Charlie’s boyhood enemy is Jacky Bellamy from nearby Karragullen. Their rivalry and childhood dislike morph into mateship as they become POWs and face unspeakable ordeals. By the end of the war, Jacky and Charlie have found that they had more in common than divides them.

“Wishes for Starlight”, Linda’s second novel, is based on real characters, with names changed to protect the not-so-innocent. It’s the story of a young deaf-mute Aboriginal boy who grew up in a time when some of our indigenous fellow-Australians were treated as though they were second-class citizens. Starlight’s story is full of intrigue, injustice, unlikely friendships and a degree of hope.

Members were also entranced by the unbelievable true story behind Linda’s first book “Secrets Mothers Keep”, which occurred in Wubin and Dalwallinu. Linda revealed how her husband Mike only recently discovered that his grandfather had been murdered and grandmother, mother and two aunts had been savagely assaulted and so unearthed a carefully kept secret that had existed in the family for over 80 years. She also explained how she had researched the story, discovering strange links across the globe which assisted her to develop a complex set of extraordinary characters and bring this pioneering yarn to life.

All of Linda’s books contain much more fact than fiction, which certainly give them an edge on mere fictional characters and events.

Bettenay was impressed with her delightful welcome, giving special thanks to Peter Medd for arranging for her to come along. “Sharing the joy behind my books and my author journey is a fulfilling experience”, Linda said.

If you would like to know more about Linda’s books or for details on events or purchasing the book go to www.lindasbooks.com.au or for details on the author tours, visit her Facebook page www.facebook.com/lindasbookswa.



Michael Lewis, June 2016

Mike gave a very detailed and factual address. He noted that more than half of Australians have no will. But if you do have one, you can provide for people you care about, you can ensure funeral and other arrangements, such as organ transplant, medical research, as well as directing items of sentimental value to be left to certain people. If you die without a will, the basic formula the courts use to divide property is that the spouse gets all household items plus $50,000 plus a third of the residue, while the children jointly get two-thirds. Any property in joint names goes automatically to the survivor(s). Anyone 18 and over can make a will, assuming mental capacity. A will lasts until you die and does not come into effect until then.

There are several types of will, including holographic (unwitnessed) and informal (not completed entirely according to law). They may address wishes regarding burial or cremation; in addition they may provide protection of one’s assets; the court nevertheless has wide powers to look through trusts. Wills may be challenged by various close relatives within six months of grant of probate, which is an instrument given by the Supreme Court to the executor to administer the estate. Mike also dealt with powers of attorney and guardianship, as well as advance health directives.

Mike’s talk was well received and provoked a number of interesting questions afterwards.

Ned Overton



By Dr. Leo Laden

Leo commenced his talk relating the story of his medical student days.

After studying at University College Hospital Medical School, London qualifying in 1962, Leo had three years as an RAF Medical Officer, the first two years in Aden and then transferred to coastal command station Cornwall.

Having taken shelter from the rain in W.A. House in London one day, he decided to ask about the job possibilities in Western Australia via the Agent General, Mr Gerry Wilde.

After much consideration and studying the maps carefully , Leo and his wife decided on Leonora as a good spot, surrounded by lakes and right in the centre of the romantic goldfields. The first time they drove to Leonora they missed it completely.

Being the only Doctor in town he had to do everything including requirement to carry out a post mortem in a small corrugated shed at the back of the hospital in very hot conditions.

But twelve months in Leonora was enough and they moved to Sorrento in Perth and Leo commenced thirteen years as a Venereologist (Pox Doctor) with the W.A. Health Department. Leo started work in 1977 at “The Special Clinic”.

Leo continued his talk relating may tales of situations both serious and hilariously funny concerning sexual health. The audience was also treated to some lessons on V.D. for beginners, the arrival of AIDS, and how things have changed. Leo concluded his talk by giving a retrospective on his working life, once again complete with tales of his fascinating experiences.

Having retired as a medico 25years, Leo now lives on a 10 acre retreat at “Nowergup”, north of Perth. He has a Colonial Arms Museum with a display of over 1500 items from Australia’s dramatic past.

Peter Medd.



By Irene Comino

Shen Yun draws top artists from around the world. With a passion for the classical arts, they have joined Shen Yun in its mission to revive a culture that was once almost lost. Ms Comino spoke about such a cultural event performed in Perth recently.

In 2006, A Group of leading classical Chinese artists came together in New York with one wish: to revive the true, divinely inspired culture of China and share it with the world.

China was once known as Shen Zhou-The Divine Land. This profound name describes a land where deities and mortals coexisted, and a belief that the divine transmitted a rich culture to the people of the earth. For thousands of years, Buddhist, Taoist, and other disciplines were at the heart of society. Calligraphy, music, medicine, attire, and much more were said to have been passed down from the heavens.

Unfortunately, over its past 60 years of rule, the communist regime has treated traditional Chinese values—centered on the idea of harmony between heaven and earth—as a threat to its existence. And in its systematic campaigns like the Cultural Revolution, it has uprooted traditional beliefs and destroyed ancient treasures—bringing traditional 5,000 years of civilization to the brink of extinction.

Entirely non-profit, and independent of the Chinese regime, Shen Yun enjoys the artistic freedom of New York, enabling it to now bring these ancient traditions to the stage. Shen Yun and its mission have drawn top talent from around the world; many artists are winners of international competitions in dance, choreography, and music.

Every year, they travel for about six months, performing in some 20 countries and 100 cities. Read and see more at http://www.shenyun.com/.



By Dr Sasha Voss

Our guest speaker was Dr Sasha Voss from the department of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology at UWA. She gave a fascinating talk on the part played by her department in, amongst other matters, CSI.

Her talk was based upon the fact that forensic entomology is the use of insects in legal and criminal investigations.

Primarily, insect evidence is used in criminal law in respect of determining the minimum time since death for homicide events, cases of neglect and animal  cruelty.

Additionally,applications involving toxicological and molecular analysis of insects can indicate post-mortem movement of a body, cause of death or even the identity of the victim. She described the applications, principles and methods of forensic entomology in the context of current practice.

Brian Straker