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A Town Farewells A Good Mate

Highlands Post

Thursday April 4, 2013

Last Thursday afternoon Bundanoon closed down to take time to celebrate the life of their postmaster Hugh Vanderfield. The following is a reflection on his life provided by daughter Kirrily.

Hugh Donald Vanderfield was born on the 17th February in 1953 to Donald Hume Vanderfield and Jane Vanderfield (nee Woodhill) at Neutral Bay in Sydney.

Hugh was the first and only son, preceded by twin sisters Lesley and Robyn, and followed by younger sister Enid.

Hugh was raised with his siblings in the family home at Lane Cove, where he attended Lane Cove Primary School, and became a member of the Scout group. This participation in Scouts was continued through his teenage years, during which time he acquired many skills, made friends and achieved awards - the most notable being the Duke of Edinburgh, which was awarded to Hugh at the age of 17.

Hugh's High School education began at North Sydney Tech High in 1965, and later at North Sydney Boys High where he completed his High School Certificate in 1970.

Following High School Hugh commenced university, but decided after a few weeks that a gap year was required, and having recently acquired an appreciation of vineyards, spent some time exploring Rutherglen Boy Scout style with backpack and tent before returning to Sydney. Later in the same year Hugh was employed by OTC in a clerical position, his first role which was followed by promotions to roles of higher responsibility over the next 13 years during which he worked for the company. Here he met and befriended Peter Kenny who later became the groomsman at his wedding and a lifelong friend.

Hugh returned to university in 1973 to study a Bachelor of Arts in Communications at the University of Technology where he met Wendy Boswarva who he later married. Upon completion of his Degree Hugh continued tertiary studies through Armidale University and attained a Diploma of Business Management.

In 1974 Hugh was married to Wendy Margretta Boswarva at The Argyle Church in Sydney and they purchased their first home, a unit in Petersham.

Hugh and Wendy's first child, daughter Kirrily Jacinta, was born in 1978, followed by son Lincoln Hume in 1980, daughter Chelsey Laura in 1982 and the youngest child, daughter Cressida Fern in 1986. The young family was raised in the then small and welcoming community of Mt. Ku-Ring-Gai up to 1985.

During this time Hugh's career at OTC was developing well, however he had long had a vision of revitalising an old family business, the timber mill Vanderfield Timbers in Botany. Hugh purchased the business in partnership with friend Peter Kenny.

In 1985 Hugh and Wendy moved the family to Kirrawee to be closer to the business for an easier commute to work, but with the young family growing it was soon evident that a larger house would be required. In 1987 they found themselves happily settled in the leafy suburb of Gray's Point and here the family remained for another three years.

Vanderfield Timbers was steadily developing and Hugh, again in partnership with Peter Kenny, purchased Softwood Milling in Balmain, and established Lattice and Logs. After a few years Vanderfield Timbers was incorporated into Softwood Milling at the Balmain site, and Lattice and Logs was sold in order to focus on further development of the services provided by Softwood Milling, which was thriving due to the high demand for architraves, mouldings & other timber products popular for use in renovations in the region.

Feeling the need for a tree change, Hugh sold out his share of Softwood Milling and relocated the family to Moss Vale. In the years that followed Hugh and Wendy owned and operated various businesses including Moss Vale Bottle Shop and FM Stationery, until one day a serendipitous discovery was made of a Post Office for sale in the village of Bundanoon. The Post Office was purchased by Hugh and Wendy, and they settled into their roles as Postmaster and Postmistress in 2000.

Then in 2003 Hugh and Wendy separated and Hugh moved out of the family home, becoming a permanent resident of Bundanoon where he had the honour and pleasure of being embraced into the Bundanoon Community with such warmth and generosity. During these times one of Hugh's greatest delights was being able to participate as a valued member of the choir Serendipity.

Hugh was a humble man who believed that each individual has the right to pursue their own spiritual journey without judgement or persecution from others. He endeavoured to treat all people with the same amount of respect and kindness which he hoped to receive in return.

Some insight to his philosophies may be gained from the motivational phrases which were found stuck to his mirror, among which were the following:

Some see a hopeless end, while others see an endless hope. ~Author unknown

Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway. ~Emory Austin

Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings. ~Victor Hugo

From his middle teenage years there are four main interests which have inspired an impassioned Hugh throughout the course of his life - these are music, timber, vineyards and outdoor adventuring.

Hugh's love of music began early and he sang with the North Sydney Boys High Choir during school days. He had an appreciation of a broad range of music from classical (with a particular fondness for classical guitar) to contemporary. After High School Hugh took a more passive role in music - as a listener, although he would occasionally play the piano. Then in 2007 Hugh joined the Bundanoon Voices, which was disbanded in 2008 with some members forming a new community choir called Serendipity which was established later on in 2008 and has since been growing from strength to strength. Being a member of Serendipity contributed greatly to Hugh's personal and spiritual growth, and singing brought him much pleasure.

Hugh's interest in timber was initially kindled by his Grandfather Normie, with whom he shared furniture restoration projects that they worked on in the garage of Hugh's childhood home in Crow's Nest, and by his Uncle Doug who owned the business Vanderfield Timbers. Hugh also attended woodworking classes throughout High School and made various creations, both practical and ornamental, some of which remain with the family to this day. Given Hugh's appreciation for the applications of timber it was only natural that he followed this interest as a career path for a time in the ownership and management of timber businesses. He has always had a keen interest in all facets of the timber industry, from growth and harvest of trees through to seasoning, milling and development of the final product. Hugh has been known to give lengthy appraisals of the characteristics and qualities of various timbers to anyone keen enough to listen, and he could never be taken into a woodcraft gallery without opening all the handcrafted timber trinket boxes to fully savour the distinctive aromas of each type of timber.

Hugh's earliest exposure to vineyards occurred during holidays with his Father Don to South Australia. Since then he has made visits to vineyards in any location his travels have taken him, including regional NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. His interest in the growing of grapes for the production of fine wines led him to undertake extensive research for personal knowledge on the history of the wine industry in Australia (another subject on which he was happy to deliver lengthy appraisals to anyone keen enough to lend an ear).

From Hugh's first experiences of outdoor adventuring as a Scout through to recent times he has always had a great appreciation for all the wonders this country hosts and a curiosity to personally discover as many of them as he could. Drives in the countryside usually ended up being a longer journey than intended because Hugh always had to find out "what's just around the next bend". After vineyards, castles and buildings of similar architecture are the next most prolific subjects in his photo collection, and the motivation for many an adventuring trip. Hugh also had a great affinity for the Australian bush and often enjoyed day walks or camping trips in the bush both in the Sydney regions where he lived in his early days and in the Southern Highlands region in recent times. For Hugh a walk in the bush was food for the soul.

During his final days in Liverpool Hospital Hugh said that he was content with the way he had lived his life. And in the comfort that loved ones who had previously passed on were now waiting to welcome him back to the fold, was at peace with the knowledge that it was his time to move on.

He will be waiting for us "where the music is".

Hugh's sister Lesley extended thanks to the Bundanoon community for the 'extraordinary love' shown towards her brother throughout his illness, and to her and his family since his death.

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Serendipity's Patron

Richard Gill OAM

Serendipity: the choir is delighted to have Richard Gill as its Patron.

Richard Gill OAM is a distinguished Australian conductor. He conducts choral, orchestral and operatic works, and has been involved in music training and education.

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Contact Information+61 (02) 4883 6515
+61 (02) 4883 6515
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Location Soldiers' Memorial Hall
Railway Parade
Bundanoon NSW 2578
Australia

Choir Details Music Director: Kerith Fowles
Accompanist: Ann Clipsham
Webmaestro: Beverley Bennett