“Do you like children?” Asked a Career’s Advisor.
“Take them or leave them. Preferably leave them,” answered Bede.
While a morning surf at Caves Beach every day was a certainty, an RSI injury 6 weeks out from completing his trade in Carpentry, left a 22 year old Bede Thoroughgood with a lack of direction.
With some slight persuasion, Bede was showing up for his first shift at the local preschool.
A day full of engaging, supporting and encouraging 3 – 5 year olds.
A massive shift in direction.
And he loved it.
Although only rostered on for 3 days a week, Bede found himself turning up daily.
“I just loved it. If the surf was no good, I’d be back to help out at the preschool.”
It wasn’t long before Bede was studying for his Teachers degree. In the first 12 months he received the Ralph Basden High Achiever Award.
“I’d never been really academic,” Bede tells us, “But when you find something you love, it all becomes so natural.”
During his degree, an emotional trip to the Stockton Centre would again change the path Bede was travelling. A passion for teaching students with disabilities emerged.
Bede has been a commited teacher for local children with disabilities ever since.
Villager Ben met Bede and his wife Bronwyn when they moved to Newcastle, helping them to find the perfect home to raise their 5 children and also with their investment property portfolio.
“Growing up in Valentine I never thought I’d be a “town clown”, but i couldn’t have hoped for a better place to live and raise our family. I love living in Hamilton –
wild horses couldn’t drag me away”
Many years after his property purchases, a great friendship continues between Ben and Bede. The pair surf together regularly and Ben’s 2 daughters think Bede’s Donald Duck impersonation is world-class comedy.
While surfing has always been a big part of life for Bede, so has his connection to people.
From friendships to teaching, and now volunteering, which is one of his biggest missions.
And just like in his career, life steered him in this direction.
In 1992, as a glass of water slipped out Bede’s left hand, he spun his right hand around and caught the glass but in the process twisted his spine, resulting in a prolapsed disk which left him partially paralysed from the waist down.
“The first thing I asked the Doctor was when I could surf again. “You’re joking right? Was all he said to me.”
Through a long period of rehabilitation, getting back in the water reamined Bede’s goal.
This twist of body, became twist of fate as he found himself involved with the Disabled Surfers.
“They needed volunteers and while my back wasn’t yet fully recovered to be lifting right out of the waves – there was plenty for me to do.”
Disabled Surfers has around 200 volunteers and are always looking for more – from surfers to cooks, supervisors and helpers.
“I understand how incredible a day in the surf is, for both mind and body, when you are feeling constrained.”
Bede completed his training at Blacksmiths Beach in 2010 and by 2013 became the Hunter President of the Disabled Surfers Association.
“It’s great to spend the day helping kids with disabilities have a surf, while the whole family spend a day at the beach together – something that without volunteers, is near impossible for some families to do”
“Volunteering gives you the opportunity to lose yourself and you become a better person in the process,” Bede says.
“Yes, I’m passionate about it, but I do get paid. I get paid in smiles.”
Now his mission within the association is building a bigger and better future, with more volunteers and traveling events to places like Stockton Beach and Fingal Bay.
A testament to committing to your passion and finding a way to live it.
“I said to my son recently,” Bede recalls, “If you are getting up in the morning and doing what you do because you love it, then you’ll always have work.”