Qantas founder a hero to 17 year old errand boy who went on to a four decade career as commercial pilot

Inspired by greatness: Reg Darwell at the 100th anniversary of Qantas dinner at HARS.
Inspired by greatness: Reg Darwell at the 100th anniversary of Qantas dinner at HARS.

When Reg Darwell started work at 17 as a junior executive trainee in the brand new Qantas House in Sydney in 1958 he would run errands for the national airline's chief executive Sir Hudson Fysh.

Speaking at the 100th anniversary dinner at HARS on Monday Mr Darwell recalled how the Qantas co-founder and Lady Fysh would arrive in the executive garage near the mail room in a chauffeur driven Jaguar limousine.

"It was always quite an arrival. And I had the impression Lady Fysh really had a lot of influence in the standards of the staff."

Mr Darwell said being so young Sir Hudson Fysh was like a hero to him. He got to know him and his secretary who had held the role since 1928.

"He had almost retired but he was still a powerful figurehead. He was an older man at that time looking after his creation. He was proud of us and we were proud of him.

"This was at a time when Qantas was making decisions about buying a 707. They were being urged to buy British Airplanes and it was a big decision to go American."

During that process Mr Darwell recalled one day when he was asked to come in early and pick up a cheque for two million pounds and be on the doorstep of the Commonwealth Bank in Martin Place as soon as it opened.

"Sir Hudson Fysh was a very formal man and quietly spoken who insisted on pronouncing Qantas correctly. It was always pronounced Qwantas.

"He was always dressed in a collar and tie. In his presence you would never address a senior by their first name and you would never speak unless you were spoken to.

"Occasionally he would invite us into his office to view models of old airplanes and reminisce about things. Sometimes I would get the impression he was a bit lonely. On some occasions he didn't want to go with the senior staff to lunch and would send one of us up to get him a ham sandwich from the canteen on the 11th floor.

"He was very keen on freshwater fishing, was president of a fishing club and wrote a quarterly journal called Tight Lines. It was my job to get it printed and mail it out to the members."

Mr Darwell said when he started the senior executives had all been pilots and were all well known in the industry. The office in Hunter Street also had a lift driver dressed in uniform whose job was to press the buttons on the lift.

"He referred to himself as the director of vertical operations."

Mr Darwell also did the mail run early in his career before being selected to do airline pilot training. From 400 people who applied, 100 went for tests and 14 were selected.

"When I look back I can't help but wonder if 'you know who' was keeping and eye on me through all this and helped launch me into a wonderful career and helped me fulfill my dreams."

Mr Darwell started flying in 1961 as a second officer and navigator on the Super Constellations and went on to become a pilot and captain of Boeing 707s, 747s and 747-400s before retiring in 2000.

"I now fly with HARS on the Connie. With all this history I feel like I have come back to where my career started 60 years ago. And I hope I am doing Sir Hudson Fysh proud."

Kiama businessman's seven steps to retail success

Glenn Haworth with his new book Retail Domination

Glenn Haworth with his new book Retail Domination

It has been a tumultuous year for the Australian retail industry with hundreds of stores closing their doors.

Kiama's Glenn Haworth knows what it is like to come through turbulence to create a thriving business that can withstand economic shake ups and has written a book.

The Haworth Guitars and Resolve Business Coaching director is the author of 'Retail Domination' to help retailers in what he calls 'the new Covid world'.

Mr Haworth said there has never been a more important time to consider re-structuring business models. He can recall the time when many music stores were closing down and how Haworth Guitars went from a small mum-and-dad music store in Kiama to becoming the biggest seller in the world of Australia's two major guitar brands.

He also launched a world-class e-commerce store, started a music school and gained almost 100,000 followers on Instagram.

He said his approach to running a successful retail business has been far less traditional than that of his peers. And his new book tells the story of all the ups and downs he faced along the way.

He said it includes the unique coaching framework he founded at Resolve Business Coaching to help businesses formulate the right plan of attack to succeed in the new digital world.

Peoplecarer remembered for dedication

The late Cec Ainsworth who served 46 years as a director of Peoplecare and 30 years as chairman.

The late Cec Ainsworth who served 46 years as a director of Peoplecare and 30 years as chairman.

Cec Ainsworth, a director of Peoplecare for 46 years and chairman of 30, is being remembered for his great dedication to the company

Mr Ainsworth died in October and chief executive Dr Melinda Williams said he he knew every staff member by name.

Former chief executive Michael Bassingthwaighte described him as a man who did a lifetime of extraordinary things helping others.

"The the most charitable person I have ever known".

Mr Bassingthwaighte recalled how Mr Ainsworth organised the annual Lysaght Xmas Tree for 50 years and delivered so much happiness to thousands of the children of company employees.

Mr Ainsworth became a member of Lysaghts Hospital and Medical Club in 1953, joined the CRM Hospital Fund management committee as a 21 year old in 1961, was elected junior vice president in 1964, senior vice president in 1966, deputy chairman in 1970 and chairman in 1972. He was recognised as a life member in 1992 and following his retirement from the company in 1993 remained as chairman and a director until 2007.

"I first met Cec in 1981 when Lysaght Hospital and Medical Club was seeking a new manager," Mr Bassingthwaighte said.

"I learnt a lot from Cec. He was committed to the not-for-profit nature of the company, continued to look to the future and constantly instilled in me the purpose and values of the company."

Mr Bassingthwaighte said Mr Ainsworth was as a great community citizen who was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community through a range of not for profit, social welfare and health insurance organisations.

Movers and Shakers is a weekly feature of people who have done or are doing significant work in or for the Illawarra community.

Do you have an interesting business story you would like to share? Email grellis@austcommunitymedia.com.au.

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This story Qantas founder a hero to 17 year old errand boy who became a commercial pilot first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.