Brendan Gerard Waddington, SBStJ
12/04/1961 - 20/05/2002
It seemed Brendan would keep going forever.He was unstoppable.He devoted all of his work time & spare time to helping others, expending reserves of energy that are exhausting to contemplate.
Bren joined St. John Ambulance Australia, a voluntary first aid provider, in April 1980, just after he turned 19.Around the same time, he started work at the Motor Registration Branch (later the TRB, then RTA & now VicRoads), at Carlton, working shifts on the Police Enquiries phones.He became the building's unofficial first aider in a short space of time, as well as being an administrative dynamo, a skill fully revealed when he began regular hours in clerical work.
Bren became the expert in the new photo licence system in the mid-1980s, and travelled around Victoria fixing problems at the various offices and devising new means of getting around administrative and technical problems.While doing this, he was also the chief first aider at Carlton, the administration, stores & leave clerk for the Drivers Division, and a general gopher & fix-it man.
By the time he was about 25, Bren had also studied part time for an OH&S diploma so he could further his work in that field.He finished with very high marks and got the job he wanted by the time he was 27.This meant transferring from the Road Traffic Authority to the Country Roads Board in 1988, both of which merged a year later to become VicRoads.
I was 18 months younger than Bren, and started at VicRoads 18 months after he did.I first met Bren when I had an accident at work in 1982.By then he’d been in St. John for a little over 2 years.After another accident the following year, I had to seek treatment again, and Brendan did the honours.What is more, in an organisation then employing over 1,000 people, he remembered me.
A couple of years later, I moved into Human Resources, and by late 1987 I was working in the Leave Administration section.Nearly every day, bundles of Bren’s forms for the Licencing staff would arrive.A co-worker, Kath Chandler, and I would update people’s records, and we were challenged by Bren to find a mistake.We never did.What is more, if we had any questions about what he’d recorded, we’d ring him up, and without referring to notes he could rattle off details about what that staff member had taken in sick leave or annual leave and what their remaining entitlements were.Bren had a phenomenal memory for dates and figures and general facts.
Also in 1987, I completed a St. John Ambulance course and became a work place first aider.As the chief first aider, Bren organised regular training sessions and ran one each month, giving us a chance to practice CPR as well as refresh other skills and update our knowledge.
After many organisational changes, mergers and re-locations, Bren and I were working on the same floor by mid-1990.Later that year, he made me his second-in-charge first aider.Bren taught me a great deal, and I was delighted he had the confidence in me to put me in charge during his absences.
After six years as an OH&S worker, Brendan transferred to the Victorian Taxi & Tow Truck Directorate in 1994.He eventually became an Inspector in 1999, after much hard work in achieving that new goal, and helped me deal with some taxi-driver neighbours who were persistently parking in my car park.He made sure they never did it again.
Over all this time, he spent almost as many hours doing voluntary work with St. John Ambulance, rising through the ranks, getting to know everyone, taking on an enormous amount of administration, duties (15,000 hours in 22 years), teaching, travelling and going out of his way to help people.He went to the Priory Conferences each year, and even spent time there doing duties and otherwise helping people.He became a Member of the Order in early 1992, in recognition of his achievements and hard work in the previous eleven years.
I don't think the man ever had a proper holiday, and a weekend to himself just relaxing was almost unthinkable.He was driven, it's as simple as that, and due to the uncertainty of his life, he was determined to pack everything into it that he could.
In his 41 years and 1 month, Brendan completed 22 years in St. John and nearly 24 years in the work force.In that total of 46 years, he crammed in the equivalent of what it would probably take most people 90 years to achieve.
When things were bad for me, in 1990 & 1991, Brendan was there, watching over me, asking after my welfare, offering help.He had his own hassles during this time and we got to talking a lot.Thankfully the kitchen and coffee room was near his desk.He’d grown on me, as he did on most people he met, and I knew I'd gained a good friend.
Bren was making it clear he liked me a great deal, and he began a slow and steady series of approaches.After nearly two years his efforts paid off.I found I'd come to love him.He asked me out again in 1992, under the guise of doing our Level 2 and Level 3 FA Certs together.
Soon I knew I’d found the love of my life.We had heaps of outings, meeting people and doing things I would otherwise never have done.He introduced me to his family, friends and many St. John colleagues, involved me in some duties and competitions and took me to St. John dinner dances and other functions.Brendan also helped me with some of my research work, taking me on cemetery trawls looking for headstones, helping to proof-read for the Victoria Police Historical Society, and occasionally allowing me to go into second-hand bookshops and nurseries without putting a time-limit on my stay.He was lovely to be with and we had so much in common.
Bren had a huge impact on my life.Because of him and what he taught me, I, too, joined St. John, an organisation which is fabulous, frustrating, and endlessly fascinating in what it does and how it does it.I have developed skills, knowledge and experience I would otherwise never have gained, all thanks to Brendan and his very interesting recruitment technique.
He was cheeky, dogged, persistent, a perfectionist, highly organised, very thorough, practical, punctual, reliable, honest, funny, loyal, trustworthy and a million other good things, that well and truly outweighed his imperfections.
Brendan is deeply mourned by hundreds of people he came to know in the course of his very active life, professionally and socially.The notices in the paper, dozens of them, are all heart-wrenching, but all testify to his hard work, dedication, sense of humour and enormous contribution to society.
Brendan had never married, despite receiving a perfectly good offer, but his legacy will live on through those he worked with, helped and encouraged over the years.He was a good man and I’m extremely proud to have known him, worked with him, loved him and been loved by him.
My deepest sympathy, love and understanding are extended to his family, friends, colleagues and all those who have been touched by Brendan’s extraordinary life and his untimely loss.He is deeply missed, but will never be forgotten.
Richmond (Yarra) Combined Division
St. John Ambulance Australia (Vic)
& late VicRoads.