Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Name: Ian Davison

Location: Leeds, UK

I shared a room with Syd at Ein Gev from October 1972 to spring 1973 and he was a brilliant bloke. Most shabbats Syd, Tom MacFee and I would play Scrabble then Paddy would arrive and we'd listen to the soccer on BBC radio World Service. I think Syd worked for a while in bananas, then he moved to working in dates. A year or so ago he told me the story of how, one day, he'd climbed up the date tree and was just about to lower a branch full of dates when an Israeli jet flew over, very fast, very low and very loud. If I remember the story rightly, Syd came down the tree almost as quickly as the branch and it took him a minute or two (and a few swigs of orange juice) for him to regain his composure and go back up again. For some reason Syd enjoyed keeping a record of the names of all the volunteers coming and going since he'd arrived at Ein Gev, and after 5 or 6 months it was quite a long list.

After Syd went back to New Zealand he worked (at the pensions office?) in his home town of Dunedin. Unfortunately, in September 2001 he had a stroke that left him paralysed down one side, and so he had to finish working. Undaunted, Syd obtained a little mobility scooter that helped him go to shops and also go on little jaunts along the sea front. Last year Syd developed a degenerative illness and had to move into a care-home. From messages coming from his sisters, I understand that he was still able to enjoy reading and watching sport on television until very recently.

Syd was a thoroughly decent bloke and as we all remember, a character. Whatever life threw at him in recent years, he never said "Why me?", he just got on with things and regarded each problem as a challenge to be faced and dealt with, rather than a tragedy.

RIP Syd. We won't forget you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In Memoriam

Sad news comes from Dunedin, New Zealand.

Fellow 1970s Volunteer Syd McAra has passed away after a long illness. He is survived by two sisters who live there in New Zealand.

Syd was in contact with old friends up until his final months, and will surely be remembered and missed. An online tribute web page is available at: