Community worker Clive Faul is all about giving to others
You can’t point your life force in any other way. You can’t ignore those two beautiful kids, your kids, barely beyond mere babes; joyful, messy, boisterous. Sleeping serenely.
Life wrenched with such an alarming, centre-of-the-universe jolt, violent and, when reduced to that most simple and terrible state, heartbreaking.
When he had learned so much about caring, about selflessness, about the driving absolutes involved – plus the rewards – in doing right, something so wrong struck.
“Losing my wife, Kerry, was certainly a huge turning point. The kids were only two and three at the time.”
Change is no surprise, something new every day or every year is always how things have worked for Clive Faul. But this was painfully different.
They got by, they got going, after Kerry died in a car crash. Crucial was his Rotary family.
“The wives would come around and look after the kids while I attended meetings.”
He looks back. Surprised, yeah a bit, but joyful in the journey, even if Kerry’s loss is always so close.
It’s 33 years since he joined Rotary, 24 years after that tragic car accident, decades since the Albury teenage party boy had his own dance with death in his HD Holden, a bit of grog sloshing about in his belly and in too much of a hurry to get back to a party by the lake, having dropped some girls back in town.
The ute flipping over in the dark, somehow landing back on the wheels. And then a half-arsed sleep.
Worrying about “how the hell am I going to tell Mum and Dad?”.
What he feared most, after obeying Dad’s “your mother wants to go to church so you’d better take her to church” command the next morning – he had to use the passenger door to get in, the driver’s door jammed shut by the crash – was Dad’s disappointment.
Because with Cobar-born Reg Faul, the inaugural SS&A Bowling Club president (he did the job for six years) and a force in getting the club’s first poker machines, there were never, ever any shades of grey.
“You always knew where you stood with him.”
A belting from Reg Faul wouldn’t have been as painful.
Clive had already passed him a couple of times in the hallway of their house, on a big block up on Monument Hill, before giving Mum Leila, who hailed from Gilgandra, a lift.
“He barely acknowledged me.”
Mid-afternoon Dad relented, asking “what are you doing tonight?” He suggested they go to the Commercial Club. He’d buy Clive a beer.
“He was well aware of what had happened, so fairly early in the conversation he says ‘you know, when I was a young guy I rolled a car over’.”
Dad said one more thing – “and there was only one reason for that” – and that was the end of the lesson.
“He never mentioned it again.”
SKIING on the finest Swiss powder grabbed him.
Years later it’d do the same, to both of them, when Clive tried to convince his son to give Rotary Youth Exchange a go.
It was the one thing he wanted for his kids, Michael and Hannah. But all the boy could say was “don’t want to go, don’t want to go”.
“We were watching TV one night and there was a guy on a snowboard down powder snow and I said ‘you know, that’s how it was when I was in Switzerland, it’d snow every night with beautiful powder’.
“And the penny dropped, his eyes wide open,” he says, vividly recalling Michael’s sudden interest in a Swiss jaunt.
“And I said no and he said ‘why not?’. I said if anyone’s going back to Switzerland it’s me.”
When Clive first went to Switzerland he was not much older, about 24. A trip with mates, on a cruise to Hong Kong and Japan after they finished at Albury Grammar, “certainly whet my appetite”.
After training as a motor mechanic with his dad he was back on the same ship, but this time heading for London.
His plan to get a job doing anything else was soon wiped by the reality of having little money, so he started out in the truck division at Ford dealer Godfrey Davis.
Two years of travelling followed, squeezed among plenty of odd jobs.
He worked at a potato farm up north, at Peterborough, where he also got to witness the Harrier Jump Jet take off from an RAF base “and set fire to the trees” and see an English farmer go to work in a white shirt, cufflinks and tie.
“By the end of the day, as a potato farmer, he was as black as the rest of us”.
Hitching a ride with a car full of nuns and trudging through the snow, with a South African policeman, to get to St Moritz, landing a job with the toss of a coin at the grand Suvretta House (firing his interest in hospitality that has had him running Border pubs, bars and motels) and making beds for the London to Paris train – though disappointed it departed each time from Victoria Station without him.
He was changing; from a young man bereft of community spirit to someone ready to try anything.
It has influenced much of what he has done since, including as a Wodonga West Rotary foundation member, with the Albury-Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre fundraising committee and Relay for Life.
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people.”
And he has always kept busy, even if that means a friend knocking on his door at 1am, after seeing his light on, to ask him why he can’t get someone else to do his ironing.
“It would be too easy to have a couple of drinks instead, and then another couple of drinks.”
He is grateful Hannah became a nurse like her mum and delights in Michael’s travels, after studying building design at university.
“I don’t know of a closer-knit family, and to a large extent I’ve got Rotary to thank for that as well. There’s a lot of things you can hope to do in your life and so when things come to fruition, it’s great.”