A picture of George Wardley adorns our committee room’s wall. It shows George in Club uniform holding a hammer. He had just won the 1947 Victorian Championship.
No one had had seen or heard of him for years until a newspaper article appeared in the Herald Sun on Tuesday June 3rd. 2014.
The article told the remarkable story of a Ms Betty Fowkes who had been reunited with a book originally given to her by her father in 1944, but lost some four years later when the family moved house. The father was George Wardley.
A couple of keen eyed people thought that the photo accompanying the article showed some resemblance to the photo in the clubrooms. Of course the mention of the family moving from Northcote did add some further interest.
After contacting the newspaper, the Club was contacted, firstly by Betty Fowkes and then soon after, by her brother Peter Wardley.
Both these people have kindly given the Club some photographs and certificates that have helped construct this profile.
George joined the Club in 1938 and in 1940 gained a bronze medal in the hammer throw in the Victorian Championship.
The next few years saw George serving in the army reaching the rank of Lieutenant (Acting Major), but he returned home in 1944 due to illness.
George went back to athletics and as previously mentioned, won the Hammer Championship in 1947. According to son Peter, George gave up athletics on the advice of doctors, to take up the more passive game of lawn bowls.
During one competition George managed to hit a newspaper reporter on the leg with the hammer resulting in a broken leg for the unfortunate scribe.
Perhaps that why we now have throwing cages!
George died in 1972 at the ‘young ‘ age of 52.
Betty Fowkes and her book Magic Australia live happily ever after
JUNE 03, 2014
Betty Fowkes, 80, lost her favourite childhood book Nuri Mass’s Magic Australia about 66 years ago. But the story ends well. Picture: David Caird.
A BOOK called Magic Australia, presented by a wounded WWII veteran to his little girl and then lost, has worked its magic across the globe and the decades to find its way back home to her.
Betty Fowkes’s father, George Wardley, gave her the book as a present when she was 11, lovingly inscribing it: “To Betty, from Daddy. Christmas 1944.”
The St Andrews woman, now 80, believes she lost the book about four years later when the family moved out of their Northcote home.
Amazingly, the book that arrived was Betty’s original copy, complete with an inscription from her father, who gave it to her on Christmas in 1944. Picture: David Caird
Sixty-six years later, Ms Fowkes heard the author, Nuri Mass, mentioned on a radio broadcast, and asked her daughter, Liz Crooks, to look up the book.
“For some reason the name rang a bell in my addled brain,” she said.
Betty and her daughter Liz Crooke look through the recovered children’s book. Picture: David Caird.
Ms Crooks started hunting for a copy online to give to her mum on Mother’s Day.
She randomly settled on a copy from New York’s Austin Book Shop — purely because she used to be a nurse at the Austin Hospital.
The book arrived in April.
Betty with her father, George Wardley, when she was 11 years old.
On opening it there, spine-tinglingly, was the dedication: “To Betty, from Daddy. Christmas 1944.”
“Mum was like a little girl again. You could just see her whizzing back in time,” Ms Crooks said.
Ms Fowkes said the book was special because her dad gave it to her just after he returned hurt from World War II.
“I still cry about it — especially when I tell people about the inscription,” she said.