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Ken Sutherland Accepts Life Membership

Ken Sutherland, the first captain of the Port Fairy Surf Club, was in town last Friday to accept his life membership at the club's annual presentation night.

The Moyne Gazette caught up with him for a chat.

THE opportunity to come and live in Port Fairy for my wife, Betty, and I came in 1951. I had studied industrial chemistry and got a job as the chemist in charge of the laboratory at the Glaxo factory in Port Fairy . I had grown up in Melbourne so it was a big change coming down to Port Fairy, but we thought it was paradise. We raised our three children here, Janet, Barbara and Peter, and it was a great place for a young family. We lived in Griffiths Street so we only had to go up over the hill to the beautiful beach, which we all loved.

Glaxo was a dairy factory when I first started and I stayed on for a few years when it began its new life manufacturing drugs. At that time the dairy industry was a bit varied, so I think the people of Port Fairy accepted the change in direction of the company. Most people were happy the company had decided to stay in Port Fairy because it was the main employer in the town.

When we first arrived in Port Fairy we became good friends with Dr Boyce Le Couteur and his wife who was a dentist. Boyce was passionate about the fact he thought Port Fairy really needed a surf life saving club. He said we had these beautiful beaches so we needed to make sure they were safe so everyone could enjoy them. There had been a royal life saving club on the South beach but that was inactive, so we called a public meeting to gauge interest in forming a new club. We ended up getting a strong level of interest so we formed the club in 1951.

The club's first president was Boyce and I was the secretary and captain. In January 1953 six members, Des Hazeldine, Ray Fitzgibbon, Kerber Werner, Keith Richardson, Gordon Bruce and myself, all completed our bronze medallion training, which qualified us to start patrolling the beach. In those early days we didn't have a clubhouse; we just used a partitioned-off section of the public toilets and later we got in a Nissen hut, which was located north of the current clubhouse.

It was an honour to be asked back for the presentation night last Friday to receive a life membership. The club is in a wonderful position, and I was so impressed with how many Nippers there were and how well-equipped the club is and how enthusiastic everyone is. Ian Powell is doing a wonderful job as president and he has a good support crew behind him.

PRIOR to last week, the last time I had been back to Port Fairy was about 15 years ago when I came back to see how the golf course was going. I have a keen interest in the golf course because I was club president when it moved from Southcombe Park to where it is now. Southcombe Park was a nice little course but any growth was really restricted. It was common land and people in the town were allowed to graze one cow and one calf each on it. Not many people did, but we still had to fence off the greens. The fences from the race course were also there so there were a few things you had to make sure you missed when you hit the ball. Moving to the new course was the brainchild of Colin Leishman who put in a lot of work to make sure it all went smoothly. Most of the members supported the move and, looking at the course now, it is in really good shape and all looks good for the future.

AFTER we left Port Fairy I went to work at a milk factory in Tongala. Nestles took that over and in 1973 they sent me down to be in charge of the coffee section of Nestles in Dennington. Fred Wiffen was the factory manager back then and I stayed for 14 years and had a great time working there.

One of the things I enjoyed most about working at Dennington was the people who worked there. I remember people in the coffee section such as the Gleeson girls from Koroit, Oleo Howard, Pat Rea, Phillip Williams, Des Brady and David Kelson and many more. After Dennington I went and worked at Nestles' head office in Sydney and I retired in 1992. We are still in Sydney, we have a close circle of friends here and the weather is nice and warm.


ANTHONY BRADY, 2012, ARTICLE: Profile, Ken Sutherland 17 May, 2012 12:00 AM. [The Moyne Gazette online]. Available at [Accessed 19 May 2012]
ANTHONY BRADY, 2012 IMAGE: Ken Sutherland. [The Moyne Gazette online]. Available at [Accessed 19 May 2012]