The Management Committee for 2020/2021

President: Joan Parke

I retired to Busselton in 2011 and right from the start felt at home here. I grew up in Donnybrook and we spent numerous holidays at the beaches in this area. I never cease to be amazed at how many people I meet here that also come from Donnybrook! However, I lived much of my life Perth, knowing that at some time I really wanted to move away from there and get back to the country. I am lucky to have a son, daughter-in-law and two lovely grand-daughters living here, and my daughter and her husband live in Byford.

I feel very passionate about the concept of ‘life-long learning’, having spent much of my working life teaching in one way or another – a class teacher in both primary and secondary schools, state and private, working for myself as an Education Consultant and Tutor focusing on students with special needs. I am also an Art Therapist. The last 3 years before retiring I went back into the Education Department to take a teaching position at the Yandeyarra Remote Community School in the Pilbara. What a great experience!

I joined Naturaliste U3A in 2012 and enjoy running courses and being on the Committee. The latter, especially being President, has been quite a learning curve for me and I appreciate the support given by the other Committee members. How nice it is to go into town and always get friendly smiles from other Nat U3A-ers who visit the same coffee shops!

Secretary : Deirdre Chell

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Deirdre is returning to the committee of U3A following almost a year off due to sickness. Deirdre’s career was mainly in the IT world and encompassed business, technical and communications aspects of the Health, Utilities and Insurance businesses, to name a few. Her experience includes, but is not limited to, Management, Sales, Marketing and Writing.

Deirdre and her husband Don moved to Busselton from Perth in September 2016 and since then she has also spent time volunteering with the Cancer Support Group, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Customer Advisory Group of Busselton Water.

In retirement Deirdre enjoys gardening (she doesn’t have a garden – everything is grown in pots!), walking along the ocean paths (limited following a major operation!), her music (cello and piano – attempting but failing to compete with her husband Don in the music arena!), reading (if she gets the time!) and spending time with good friends in Busselton. Despite all the exclamation marks life is looking pretty good.

Treasurer : Janet Mannolini

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Janet was born of migrant parents and grew up in Fremantle. She and her husband Gary owned a restaurant during the heady days of the America’s Cup in Fremantle. After selling the restaurant and with two young daughters, Janet and her husband moved to the South West about 30 years ago.

Looking for a change of career she started working as a bookkeeper while pursuing an accounting degree from Edith Cowan University in Bunbury. She has been a CPA qualified accountant for over twenty-five years and has had a diverse working background. Janet has worked as an accountant in tax before moving onto working in more challenging accounting and management roles in Not-for-Profit organisations.

As Janet has had a lifelong love of learning she started lecturing in bookkeeping and accounting at both TAFE and university before progressing into senior management and project management roles at Edith Cowan University. Janet has been a treasurer and voluntary auditor of a number of community groups, both small and large.

She enjoys the beautiful natural environment of the South West region and spends time pursing nature related activities of bush walking, bird watching, camping and enjoying the spectacular wildflowers on offer.

Committee Member & Systems Administrator: Don Wright

Don was born in Swansea, South Wales, UK just after the second world war. Stepping at an early age onto the relentless UK educational conveyor belt in 1951, 20 years later he fell off the end with a first class honours degree in pure mathematics from the University of Wales and a  Ph.D. in pure mathematics from the University of Birmingham, England. Teaching and research positions followed at the University of Kansas, University of Texas at Austin, University of Wales, Aberystwyth and finally Monash University in Melbourne, the job which initially brought him to Australia in 1975. After 3 years there, he decided that he preferred to retain his health rather than battle with the stress of advanced mathematical research in a highly competitive field. The fact that he wasn’t really equipped to compete with the world’s best mathematicians might also have  influenced that decision. He wandered into the technical IT space and worked for the ANZ Bank IT department in Melbourne in the mid 1980s.  In 1987 he moved to Perth with his young family, working for the University of WA on a large IBM mainframe project for the Health Dept of WA which serviced most of WA’s hospitals.  A few years later he was working as an independent IT consultant in the technical space and subsequently contributed for almost 30 years to major projects in Perth for multiple clients. These included government departments such as WA Health, Dept of Transport, Dept of Planning, Insurance Commission of WA, GESB, Regional Development and Lands, Dept of Education, DOCEP, Dept of Finance and Treasury and corporate clients such as Alcoa, Bunnings, Bankwest, Rio Tinto, Computer Science Corporation, St John of God Hospital, Fujitsu, Navitas, Curtin University and ECU Joondalup.  In 2016 he and his wife Deirdre  moved to Busselton, happily coinciding with their retirement.  Don’s main hobbies these days are going on long walks up and down the coast, playing his six guitars (one at a time) and tinkering with a diverse collection of personal computers.          

Committee Member : Cathy Oldman

After a working life in spent in Finance in South London, England my husband and I retired nine years ago to Busselton and a more gentile life by the sea.

Before retirement I was fortunate enough to be elected Staff Governor of Croydon College, the third largest TAFE in the UK. This gave me an insight into ensuring strategies, policies and procedure were compliant with the legislation of the day.

Since retiring here I have been involved in voluntary work, previously being on both the Festival of Busselton Committee and a Member of the Geographe Catchment Council. These activities have allowed me to get to know many organisations, groups and individuals in Busselton and the surrounding area.

I have been a member of Naturaliste U3A since 2010, participating in many courses over the years and am most grateful to our amazing Tutors.

Vice President : Ruth Gardner

My childhood was spent in South Perth, and on finishing school I went into nursing, but later trained as a teacher at kindergarten Teachers College. With marrying David, a newly graduated Civil Engineer, my teaching experience moved from suburban Perth to Darwin. London (in the East End and Regents park – almost two different countries) to Carnarvon, WA, with Kindergarten to the Air Station children and Minoo Malgoo Aboriginal Preschool.

In the late 70’s we returned to Perth and I had the chance to continue my own graduate studies, while teaching child development to Mothercraft and Child Health nursing students at Ngala, then tutoring at Murdoch University and ECU, before taking up a full time lectureship at Curtin University in the Faculty of Education.

Early in the 2000’s David and I took early retirement from our full time positions and moved to our tree farm in Balingup. Here I was involved with the committee for the Balingup Small Farm Field Day and the Balingup Progress Association and we both thoroughly enjoyed the vibrant and caring community of Balingup.

We moved to Busselton in 2018 and once again we are enjoying making our way in an active and caring community, of which Naturaliste U3A is a significant part.

Committee Member : Brenda Pirrit

I was born in the coastal town of Gisborne in the Poverty Bay region  NorthIsland NZ After finishing my education I went to Auckland to train in a Community Nursing Course at the Mater Miscericordiae Hospital in Mt Eden. In the 60’s my adventurous spirit brought me to Sydney with encouragement from many “Aussie Nurses” who at that time were crossing the Tasman in large numbers to work and travel around NZ.

In the mid70,s my husband John  decided to accept a new job prospect in WA It was a great opportunity to travel and test out the new Motorhome we had spent some dedicated months building together.

When the children left school I took a position at the Silver Chain Nursing Association where for 15 years I worked in the Community in various different roles.

Gisborne NZ has many similarities to Busselton and when I came to retire here It really felt like I was “Full Stop” in a very Happy Place. We have lived in Busselton for 9 years. Being a keen cyclist what better place can one be! My love of DRU Yoga for fitness led me to search for a suitable course and so I was introduced through a friend to join U3A.I have been a member since 2016.This great network of dedicated Volunteers from all walks of life and backgrounds really inspired me to join in the wonderful variety of courses offered.I am currently co-hosting Book Club 1 and thoroughly enjoy this new experience. We have a great group of enthusiastic readers and we have a lot of fun too.

Committee Member : Margaret Maloney

Margaret has lived in Busselton since 2006 and retired nearly two years ago. She was born in the Eastern States and has done her share of travelling including: living in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Sarina (Qld). In her late teens she moved to London and stayed nearly three years. During that time she visited many places in the UK and Europe.

Margaret’s interests are varied and she has always loved the outdoors and played social sport including: tennis, ten pin bowling, golf, dancing (rock n roll, jive, rock a billy and she loves a cha cha) and she has skied on most fields in NZ. More recent interests are fishing, swimming, scrabble and during winter escaping from the South West with Wayne towing the caravan to go prospecting in the Goldfields.

She has been kept busy since Christmas running an ‘airbnb’ guest suite at her home in Geographe (let’s not mention the amount of cleaning and ironing this requires)… Any opportunity to share stories, food, a glass of red (or ale) is welcome – my place or yours?

Margaret has an extensive Financial and Administration background (gained within the Legal Profession) and is looking forward to assisting the committee as a ‘back up’ person for UMAS software tasks.