Race of life is not over

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Ted Willlett has been an active member of the Boyup Brook community for 50 years.
Camera IconTed Willlett has been an active member of the Boyup Brook community for 50 years. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Since moving to Boyup Brook in 1967, Ted Willett has been a stalwart of the community, helping with local sport and supporting the Boyup Brook District High School, even after his retirement from teaching.

Ted moved to Boyup Brook to become a teacher at the high school, spending four years at the school in his first stint in the town and getting involved as the youth coordinator, running junior football and playing hockey.

He then moved to Wyalkatchem for three years to teach, before taking a year sabbatical overseas, before again being posted to Boyup Brook on his return.

Ted taught at the high school for 37 years and multiple generations of school sport competitors will remember Ted as the starter at their swimming or athletics carnivals, a role Ted continues to this day.

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“I think because I’m still in this community after 53 years, coming and going, I see children and grandchildren of some of the kids I taught,” he said.

“I’m seeing how their lives develop and I suppose that’s rewarding to see a lot of them have gone through and either come back as farmers or they’ve gone on to a profession as a doctor or a lawyer.”

As well as helping with the swimming carnivals, Ted also helps with the school’s outdoor education kayaking trips.

He is a life member of the junior and senior hockey clubs, having played more than 300 games for the men’s team and having helped to create the junior competition.

“It was pretty unique actually because it was boys and girls, from Year 4 to Year 10, so it stood the kids in good stead,” he said.

One of Ted’s long time hobbies is aviation and as a pilot, he helped to map the course for the first Blackwood Marathon.

“When they first mooted the idea in 1979, the whole idea was a one-off relay race to connect Boyup Brook to Bridgetown and we had a club Cessna plane at the time, so I took these three Rotary blokes,” he said.

“We flew where the proposed course was going to be and we sort of mapped that all out.

“Then of course it grew from strength to strength.”

His love of aviation was inherited from his father, who worked as a fitter in the Royal Air Force in North Africa during World War II.

“He’s always loved planes and that’s where my love grew from,” he said.

“I’ve always enjoyed maths, so I suppose there’s always a certain amount of mathematics and calculations, and you have to hone your skills.”

Having helped in the founding of the Blackwood Marathon, Ted has competed in three of the marathon’s five disciplines — canoeing, swimming and running — as well as completing the cycle leg in support of the student teams entered by the high school.

He still competes in the marathon and completed the canoeing leg in 2019 in a super veterans team.

Ted is an avid swimmer as well, having swam the distance from Boyup to Bunbury and to Rottnest in the Boyup Brook Swimming Pool, as well as having coached the Boyup Brook Swimming Club.

Ted said his legacy should be as the starter after his retirement.

“Someone else is going to have to learn to do the starting at the carnivals,” he said.

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