I was born in Gordon, Sydney, just a few days before the brazen attack by Japanese midget subs in Sydney Harbour – May 1942.
The second of three brothers (middle child syndrome!?), I was grounded in the blessing of a Christian home; did my primary schooling in Gordon and after a one-year stint at boarding school in Orange (with the aim of improving my health) completed my schooling at Balgowlah Boys High with the Leaving Certificate.
I had settled with my family in Manly during my early teens and then soon after to close-by Balgowlah and during those vital growing years enjoyed the benefits of active involvement in an alive church, Manly Methodist.
My future wife Helen and I were always part of that church youth scene and we were an item for some five years before marriage. (Some say I courted Helen only because she lived within walking distance).
In those days (1966) Belrose was regarded as being 'in the sticks' but land was cheaper so we settled and remained there for the next 35 years. (You can't buy a home there now for much under a million dollars!)
Son Andrew arrived in a few years and then after a long wait of nearly nine years, Robert completed the family unit.
After some years as a paramedic, Andrew managed the NSW South Coast region for the Rural Fire Service and now is the Chief Fire Officer for the RFS in the ACT. Robert completed a Town Planning degree at UNE (where he met his wife, Anthea) and is now a Senior Planner for a large consultancy and works on major projects in inner Sydney.
We are proud grandparents - Andrew and Cathy in Bermagui with Hayley and Liam; Robert and Anthea in Hornsby with Harriet and Edward.
At the time I finished my schooling it was not difficult to find employment, even though the range of career choices was more limited than today. I joined the Central Mapping Authority as a cadet cartographer which led to a career in that general field but expanded to include graphic design.
On leaving the Public Service I worked for a number of employers in various aspects of mapping; street directories and tourism as well as quality reports and publications for a prominent town planning/architectural consultancy.
Helen was mostly an 'at home' mum for the boys but was able to return to work as a librarian as they grew older. This was fortuitous, not only for the fact that it was within walking distance from home and the personal satisfaction it gave but, as it turned out, the financial benefit it was to the family.
Without warning at age 42, I developed a serious, chronic skin disorder and despite the efforts of numerous dermatologists, naturopaths, herbalists and hospitalisation, there was no improvement. As far as one could tell, I was allergic/sensitive to most foods as well as grasses, dust, moulds, chemicals, etc, etc.
I persevered with work but when after five years one specialist ventured the opinion that my condition was the result of toxic overload, the only course was to cease work and hope for improved health.
Seven years later, although not completely well, I felt ready to rejoin the workforce. I was invited to take up a role as a part-time Pastoral Carer with a large aged care facility and enjoyed it immensely. During those four years I felt a growing urge to explore the possibility of a lay ministry role with a rural congregation which did not have the financial resources to support a pastor.
To make a long story short, Helen and I moved to a South Coast NSW town in 2001 to pastor a small congregation for six years until "retirement". Yes, in spite of some years with little or no family income, God had sustained us to the point where I could work full-time on half stipend!
It's been a long road towards a complete eradication of the skin disorder, so while after almost 30 years I still need to be careful, particularly with diet, I do enjoy excellent health.
We are happily settled in Milton (South Coast near Ulladulla) and I fill the role as Elder in the thriving local Baptist Church.
With limited theological training and writing skill I was unsure as to my contribution as a Panellist when Well-Being Australia's Dr Mark Tronson offered me the role.
Now, from my perspective, I have found it both stimulating and informative, particularly because it opens a window into the heart and mind of young Christians who express views on a range of issues that need to be heard in our contemporary world – perhaps more especially by those of us who have one foot in the grave!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html