On 11th December, a special fundraiser for a true local icon is planned. Alan “Digit” Dick is well known for his involvement in both the local oyster industry and the Port Macquarie Surf Club – he’s spent years giving to the community, but now he needs our assistance. Ken Wilson tells us more …
Introduce us to Alan “Digit” Dick, and tell us a bit about his family’s history in the oyster farming industry …
Alan “Digit” Dick is a local icon and hero within the Hastings region.
He was born on 23 July 1938, making him the fifth generation of his family to be born in Port Macquarie. His family traces its origins in the area back to the arrival of John Dick and his wife, Mary Agnes Suart, who arrived from Kendall, Lakes District, England in 1841.
Alan’s great grandfather is credited with the start of oyster cultivation in the Hastings River. His son, Thomas, continued with oyster cultivation and this continued down to Alan’s father (Jack) then Alan.
Oyster farming during these times was tough. Sandstone rocks, which arrived in the town as ballast on sailing ships, before taking on cargo and returning to Sydney, were placed on Ti-tree platforms at low tide to catch oyster spawn. When the oysters were fully grown, they were culled off (three years), placed in bags and shipped to Sydney for sale.
When Jack passed away in 1990, Alan took over the oyster leases in the big bay and Limeburners Creek, being the fourth generation of the family to farm these leases. Once Alan retired, the leases were sold – ending a family dynasty.
What’s Alan’s connection with the Port Macquarie Surf Club?
Alan joined the Port Macquarie Surf Club at the age of 15 years, under the guiding hand of Ray Feeny. He was awarded Life membership and whilst a member, carried out or assisted with a number of rescues.
He also became a member of the Port Macquarie Walruses and the local Sea Rescue unit and was boat captain for a lengthy period. He took part in a number of rescues … one of which, with his offsider Brian Denyer, involved rescuing a yacht in distress off Port Macquarie, securing the vessel near Bird Rock and bringing the family ashore. Alan was awarded a bravery medal by the Royal Humane Society, which was presented to him by Sir Roden Cutler, NSW Governor.
Alan is a great mate to many of his friends and was always ready to have a chat or lend someone a helping hand.
How is Alan faring these days?
On 6th October 2015, Alan suffered a massive stroke. This has left him paralysed down the right side of his body. With assistance he can walk a short distance, but cannot eat, talk or use his right hand. He receives nutrition by way of a feeding tube inserted in his stomach.
Alan’s been a resident of Garden Village Nursing Home since December 2015, and receives good compassionate and medical care.
The cost of his medications is high.
There has been little improvement since his stroke. His mind appears to be good, and he communicates by eye and hand movement. He likes to read any mail or documents he receives.
There’s a special trivia/auction fundraiser planned for Alan on 11th December, 2pm, at Port Macquarie Surf Life saving Club. Who comprises the organising committee behind the fundraiser?
John Dick (Alan’s brother), Michelle Dick (John’s Daughter and Alan’s Niece) and me, Ken Wilson (long time friend and fellow Life Member of Port Macquarie SLSC).
How long has the planning for the event been taking place?
For approx. four weeks … And everybody I have asked to assist i.e. Gerry Byron (Trivia), David Plews (Auction), The Port Macquarie SLSC Committee etc. have made themselves readily available.
How will the afternoon/evening activities at the fundraiser unfold? What activities will take place at the event?
The people will start to arrive at 2pm, which gives time to mingle and meet past acquaintances. The Surf Club balcony is a great place to look out to the ocean and talk.
The Trivia will start at 4pm – Jerry has told me that many of the questions are quite pertinent to “Digit”. There will be lots of fun, with an auction and prizes.
As a wind down, the crowd can mingle some more and catch up with old friends.
What is it hoped the fundraiser will achieve, and how will funds raised be used to help Alan?
We hope to raise enough funds to assist “Digit” in making his stay in the Garden Village more comfortable financially. It doesn’t pay to be unwell.
Whom would you like to thank for supporting the event so far?
There are so many, including Brian Peel (Oxley Travel) for a holiday, the businesses that operate on Flynns Beach, and I hope that the friends and people who come to the afternoon have a great time and know that they have contributed greatly to an old friend.
How do community members book to attend the event?
Individual bookings or bookings for tables of eight are being taken. The cost is a $10 donation per person.
Contact Ken Wilson: 0411 160 656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Booking commitment is required by December 1st.
Interview compiled with the assistance of a family history excerpt written by Alan’s brother, John Dick.