The first person that came to mind when I thought about who has inspired me was my father. Dad left school at 14 to be a banana picker. He would cycle to work on Monday and stay on the farm sleeping in a small shed until Friday. The creek was his water supply and a fire his only light at night.
Later on he became a cane cutter, and much later a boiler maker. Dad was also an incredible sportsman and would later play rugby league for Queensland. His name, Ron McLennan, appears on the Suncorp Stadium wall of players.
It was a tough start to life however Dad would always say the he had had a “fortunate life”. Dad taught me the importance of working hard while Mum was the one would get me up when I was feeling down and would remind me whenever I was disappointed about something, what ‘real’ disappointment looked like. She was referring to when Dad missed out on what for him would have been the experience of a life time, to be sent on a tour of England playing Rugby League. Unfortunately he was not selected but this never deterred him from getting on with life, and making the best of what he had.
Education was very important to my parents and I was lucky to have the opportunity to get a good start in my education and later a university scholarship where I studied dentistry.
I later joined the military where I met another inspirational person, Dr Ross Bastiann AM, a Periodontist who taught me professional, financial and life skills.
Ross continues to be a friend and a mentor. He has guided me and others in areas of financial planning and self-managed super funds. But most importantly he not just taught but demonstrated ‘doing good deeds’.
His steady hand as a result of dentistry resulted in him taking up carving and engraving using this skill to make and install military history plaques to recognise the ANZACs. When asked why he did this his answer was that he did it for his children because he wanted them to appreciate who the ‘real’ heroes in life were, as opposed to the rock stars and sport stars whose behaviour was often less than exemplary.
For me, having such great mentors in my life, my parents, and later Ross, has helped me throughout my life, and today as a DVA (Dept of Veteran Affairs) Advocate, I am proud of the ‘good deeds’ I am now doing for the ‘real’ heroes.