Tribute to Mr Jack Walsh

About this Item
SubjectsSmall Business; Bicycles
SpeakersStewart Mr Tony; Gaudry Mr Bryce
BusinessPrivate Members Statements
Commentary Jack Walsh

Page: 21290

    Mr TONY STEWART (Bankstown—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.24 p.m.]: Today I am privileged to inform the House about someone who is a living legend in the Bankstown and Canterbury regions, Jack Walsh. Jack Walsh has continuously owned a business at 645 Punchbowl Road, Punchbowl, for the past 60 years. He has a bicycle business that has serviced my local community over those years. I was privileged to visit Jack at his local business this week. Jack is there every day of the week without fail. No matter how bad the weather is, Jack is there. He is 85 years young. When I visited him he was sitting like Buddha in his special chair in the middle of the shop, directing what needed to be done and how it was to be done. Customers pay homage to Jack Walsh because he has delivered good service in my local area for so long.

    I visited the shop with the president of the Bankstown District Sports Club, Kevin McCormick—another "Mr Bankstown"—along with local identity Max Treuer. Both have been great friends of Jack for many, many years. We celebrated with Jack, shared some cakes and talked about the amazing 60 years of his business in Punchbowl, among other things. He is an amazing bloke with a great Australian character and lots of yarns to tell. One cannot see Jack without hearing some of his special yarns. It helped me understand the quality of the people that are part of my great local area. I recall very well that I was in Jack's Punchbowl shop on a Saturday morning. A fellow arrived with a bike that needed repairs. When Jack asked the fellow when he had purchased the bike from his shop the man looked at him and said, "Back in 1973." Jack simply replied, "Well, mate, if you bought it here it is guaranteed for life. Bring it up the back and we will fix it." That is the sort of bloke Jack is and what has made him a quality small business person for so long.

    As I said, Jack is 85 years old and he has lived an outstanding, extraordinary life. He is a giant amongst people. Quite simply, he is a living legend in my local area. Jack started work at the age of 13, when his father died. He was left the breadwinner for his family. He looked after his family courageously and well. At 14 he entered an apprenticeship, which changed his life forever. The apprenticeship was at F. D. Walcott, a large bicycle shop situated in Wentworth Avenue, Sydney. Jack quickly showed his love for bicycle racing. He was an athletic young man. It did not take long before he was into bicycle racing. During that same year, when he was only 14 years of age, he won his first junior New South Wales championship at Canterbury velodrome, which is now Wiley Park.
    Jack went on to win 21 Australian championships and 19 New South Wales championships. As a professional, Jack beat every rider he met—including overseas champions—at sprint races and half-mile races. When the war broke out in the 1940s Jack served his country in the Pacific, which meant that he was unable to continue his athletic career in bicycle racing. He also missed out on a guernsey in the Olympic Games, which were cancelled in 1940. Nevertheless, Jack was a living legend even back then. He has provided opportunities for many people who have been under his wing. Under his guidance, they have become sporting stars and sporting heroes. Jack was paramount in ensuring the Bankstown velodrome was used as an Olympic facility and for servicing the needs of riders during the games. Jack is a family man. He has eight children and 19 grandchildren. Throughout his life he has been an amazing character. He has been generous to charity. He gives away thousands and thousands of dollars to local charities and wider charities without a word said. He never wants credit for his generosity. He actually says, "Please don't tell anybody."

    In 1964 he was decorated by the Queen and received an OBE. He is a life member of the Roads and Traffic Authority and the League of New South Wales Wheelmen. He is also a member of the Bankstown City Hall of Fame. I have never met such an extraordinary person as Jack Walsh. I refer to the way he has lived life, what he has done, and how he has provided for people. He deserves credit for running a business for 60 years and doing what needs to be done to make the community a better place. Importantly, he has done that without drawing attention to himself publicly; he has done it from the wings. His achievements as an athlete are unparalleled and deserve great credit.

    Mr BRYCE GAUDRY (Newcastle—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.29 p.m.]: I thank the honourable member for Bankstown for giving us the history of an outstanding citizen of the Bankstown area, Mr Jack Walsh. One of the great attributes of private members' statements is the opportunity they provide for members to put before the House the outstanding service of individuals to the community. There could not be a better example than the one provided today. The honourable member for Bankstown brought us the story of Jack Walsh's youth, the establishment of his business, his athletic prowess, what he has given back to the community and the inspiration he provided not only to the community, but particularly to the cycling fraternity in the East Hills area.