Recent Speakers

Recent Speakers

Every month, Probus Perth invites a speaker to address members on his or her particular field of expertise or endeavour. Below are summaries of talks given recently. Summaries of various earlier talks are to be found within theArchivessection of the website.



David Beard, March 2021

David gave us an uplifting speech inspired by his father who said “Wish I was 20 years younger and know what I know now.”

David’s training as an Exercise Physiologist and his working with elderly people has given him insight into what factors influence the enjoyment and health of old age.

He based 7 points of his presentation on the Acronym of AGE WELL.

The first three relate to one’s brain.

A – Attitude – think positively and each day think of 3 good things that have happened.  “Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can.” ( John Wooden)

G – Goals.  Set yourself a goal – What do you want to do for your 100th birthday? Then work towards this goal.

E – Expectatons – Times have changed and we can expect to be here a lot longer than our forebears. So make good use of the time.

The following 4 are more practical.

W – Work.  Make sure you have something to do, something that means you will get up out of bed each day

E – Exercise .  Make sure you keep your body strong.  David suggested that each day you almost sit and then stand up and repeat this until your legs are tired – this keeps the muscles in your legs strong. Then do standing push-ups near a wall so that your upper body is strengthened.

Eating healthily – mainly fresh food, meat and vegetables and not full of preservatives is also part of this E.

L – Learning. Keep the brain active and thus continue to make new pathways. Learn a language, a musical instrument, a dance, crosswords etc.

L – Leave a Legacy.  Show your family and friends that although you are old, life is good, full of enjoyment and you are happy.

His speech was met with an enthusiastic round of applause and many bought his book “If Only I’d Known I’d Live This Long….”

Wendy McCallum


Early Dunsborough and the Castle Rock Whaling Station

Dr Errol Seymour, April 2021

Dr Seymour gave a very interesting account of his family history and the importance his great great grandparents  had played in the development of Dunsborough.

Through many years of research he found old diaries, newspaper articles and long lost family members who contributed to the fascinating story.

He found that William Frederick Seymour who settled in the area in1838 to join the whaling company, was really Frederick William Palmer – a mystery as to why the change of name. This caused confusion in the research, especially as there had also been a convict William Frederick Seymour.

William started the Castle Rock Whaling station in 1846 and managed it until its closure in1872.  With his wife Mary he also ran a farm in the vicinity of the present day township of Dunsborough. The original cottages have been transported to Yallingup and form part of Millbrook.

The family endured much tragedy with the drowning of the two eldest girls and then the suicide of the next daughter.  As if this was not enough, William was then accused of shooting one of his good friends and former employee and had to endure arrest and consequent court hearings.  He was acquitted but the stress took its toll and he died at the age of 54.  His wife Mary took over the farm, paid off the debts and brought up the remaining 6 children surviving another 45 years.  One of the sons, Errol’s grandfather was a great worker and entrepreneur who enlarged the farm, started a bakery, opened a store and a garage and thus laid the foundation for the very desirable town of Dunsborough.

With such pioneering contributions to the area, Errol noted with sadness that it is known that family members are buried in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Busselton, but there are no headstones, or any indications of which are these historic graves.

Errol has written his book,”The Boy Who Told Stories: The Seymours of Dunsborough” to ensure their contributions are not forgotten and their importance to the area is recorded for posterity.

Wendy McCallum



Roger Bussell,  May 2021

Roger gave a fascinating history of how beer and whisky have been regarded as medicine over the centuries. He began by talking about Whisky and informed us that Aristotle wrote about distillation being discovered. In Scotland in 1494 the distillation recipe was a closely guarded secret.  It was promoted as preserving health and prolonging life. It was also used for perfume, disinfectant, embalming fluid and to improve gunpowder. In 1555 it was only the Guild of Surgeon Barbers who were allowed to distil what was called Acqua Vita. Through the ages it was a very popular drink and prescribed as a panacea for many illnesses. During the Prohibition in USA the rules were circumvented by calling it a medicine and millions of gallons were imported. Many advertisements pronounced that whisky would cure innumerable complaints. For example for cholera: “Take a wineglass each hour and more frequently if necessary!”

Roger then spoke about beer.  In past times many potions could be added to beer and they were camouflaged by the flavour. A Sumerian tablet from 2000 years ago described herbal extracts and the Egyptians were also known to add plants and herbs to alcohol. Willow bark was known to help pain as it contains salicylic acid better known today as aspirin.  Opium from poppies and quinine from the cinchona tree were early remedies. Oregano supposedly helped colic, Nettle beer for gout and Spruce for the kidneys. Roger gave many examples of plants and their derivatives which were added to beer and used as medicine. Hops were found to prolong the shelf life of beer.

Roger mentioned an amusing way to predict the sex of the baby.  Barley and hop seeds were to be immersed in the pregnant woman’s urine.  If the hops sprouted first then the baby was a boy and if the barley was first then it was a girl.

Prior to 1961 Guinness was promoted as a medicine in hospitals.  In the past hospitals prescribed so much brandy, whisky, gin, Guinness and even champagne  that alcohol formed a large part of the budget. It is only in recent years that the dangers of over consumption of alcohol have been accepted.

This was a fascinating walk through the centuries with what we might think of as old wives’ tales, but many of the potions form the basis of what we use today.

Wendy McCallum


Call The Midwife: The Bearer of Glad Tidings

Margaret Foo, June 2021

Our presenter Margaret Foo is a member of Morley Ladies Probus Club where she has served on the Committee for more than 20 years.  She has served three terms as President and every other position except treasurer, but  it was about her career that she was speaking to us.

Margaret has had a distinguished career as a midwife in various countries and occupied a senior role at Perth Kings Edward Memorial Hospital.  She was educated in Adelaide where she also took her general nursing training including having to polish the brass door handles, empty bed pans etc until she qualified. Thereafter she went to the UK to be trained as a midwife.  She travelled on the Fairsky with a girlfriend and when they landed at Southampton they took a taxi to Bristol. The taxi driver couldn’t believe his luck – hardly anyone took a taxi for 75 miles! At Bristol hospital the two girls were the first Aussies to work there and were very popular.  They were often invited out and one memorable evening when they went to Liverpool to a party, they made the mistake of not being back by the curfew of 10 pm!  However they both did very well and gained top marks.  This still meant they had to witness 6 births before being allowed to deliver a baby – a great exciting event when that happened.

Later she did the “Aussie Thing” and hitch-hiked with friends around Europe.  Her parents would have been horrified at all she got up to.  She then travelled to the USA and worked in ‘Hillbilly Country” in Kentucky where she had several memorable experiences.

After her return to Adelaide she left again for Papua New Guinea and worked there for two years. During this time she delivered about 1000 babies.

In 1970 Margaret “discovered” the attraction of Perth and has worked here since, apart from serving 12 months on Christmas Island where she met her husband.

She finished with a light hearted anecdote of a Year 2 child recounting the story of a birth of a sibling.  With a pillow stuffed in front, the child recounted how Dad had put a seed in Mum’s tummy and the “Middle Wife” delivered the baby which was then followed by the “Playcentre”  Because the baby had crawled up inside it had to be smacked when it came out!

Margaret has very much enjoyed her role as a midwife and spoke of her joy at helping mother’s to bring a new life into the world.

Wendy McCallum



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