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.