By MARGIE NOLAN*
WELL-KNOWN local identity in the municipality, Bill Griffiths turned 90 in July celebrating this significant event over the weekend with his close family. Red Cross and tagari lia Child and Family Centre also combined resources to recognise Bill’s birthday and to celebrate with his wife Fay, and many other members of the community.
Most people know Bill for his kind contribution towards the local community, his life stories and his wicked sense of humour.
Bill grew up in Liverpool in the United Kingdom and learned to fend for himself from a very young age. He was separated from his twin sister, Peggy and brothers at the age of eight years.
It was then that he set up home in an abandoned brickyard, where he lived with his beloved dog for a number of years. As a teen, Bill remembers being sent to live in Wales, before becoming an army cadet in World War ll. At the end of the war, when he was old enough to lie about his age, he enlisted in the British transport division and was posted to Germany. Bill thought he had signed up for army service for three years but unknowingly, it was for eight years. He took this opportunity, and learnt to read and become educated.
Shortly after the war, Bill moved with his first wife and children to Tasmania. Following a series of unfortunate events, his life took a new turn and he met Fay and they eventually married in 1975. He also found his twin sister and brother and met them again later in life.
When Bill and Fay moved to Herdsmans Cove, they collaborated with a number of other community volunteers to clean up the foreshore and found Swan Park. This was the beginning of many years of voluntary service. Bill is very proud of being the founder of Pete’s Community Workshed in 2000, and of the woodworking that he continues with local primary school students. He has been recognised with awards on a number of occasions, including the Pride of Australia Award in 2006.
Bill is a kindly gentleman and the community may also know him for his role as King William of the local Christmas parade each year. Bill says his Tasmanian life has been ‘perfect’ and that this year’s birthday ‘was the best.’
*Margie Nolan is the centre leader of tagari lia