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Firstbrook Douglas Parry

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 25/03/1936
Place of birth Wales

Date of death 31/12/2011
Place of decease Gawler

Douglas Parry Firstbrook entered the world on the 25th March 1936, at Llwyn-y-pia maternity hospital in the Rhondda Valley South Wales, the first born of Roger and Sylvia. The family lived at Craig Villa in Miskin, and after some years, were joined by a beloved daughter and sister, Pat. The family enjoyed Welsh village life, with Doug attending Ton-y-refail Grammar School which was also attended by a young Patricia Thomas from Gilfach Goch, also known as Paddy. Doug joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman in 1951, aged 15, enthusiastically embracing a career in the services and a passion for the Navy that remained with him all his life. Doug's father, Roger,a well known,colourful local identity, renowned for being able to drink a biscuit tin full of beer at the Miskin Arms, unfortunately passed away in 1952, and Doug assumed the role as head of the family ensuring that his mother and sister were well cared for whilst he remained in the Navy. Paddy had gone on to a nursing career, and Doug and Paddy remained in contact by frequently writing to one another,and seeing one another when Doug was on leave,and eventually became engaged. In 1957 Doug's mother passed away leaving 11 year old Pat.Doug sought commpassionate discharge from the Navy to care for them.Paddy and Doug married in 1958, and Pat came to live with them at 3 Craig Cottages,Miskin. On the day Doug and Paddy were married, Wales was playing England at Cardiff Arms Park.The wedding took place in the church near the cottage and Billy the best man had arranged to be picked up by the rest of Pontyclun Rugby Club to go to the match.As the bus stopped to collect Billy, Doug, urged on by the rest of the team asked if he could go with them!Demonstrating from the outset the role that rugby would play in their marriage. Following his discharge from the Navy, Doug worked as a civil servant for the National Assistance Board,and spent much of his free time playing and socializing with the Pontyclun Rugby Club,a connection he maintained to the present day. On the 25th June 1962, Doug and Paddy welcomed Roger William Martin Firstbrook into the worls, and on 25th December 1964 Giles Morgan Firstbrook completed the family. Doug introduced his sons to rugby at an early age,and their commitment to the game has also remained with them all their lives. In 1968 the family, like so many others emigrated to Australia on the Fairstar, and settled at Elizabeth West. Doug worked at ATCO for many years, as Export Manager, travelling to the middle east to establish settlements of transportable buildings for oil wells, together with other projects. In 1972 the family built a new house at Gawler, then a country town, and Doug eventually moved into the irrigation products industry, again as an Export Manager, this time taking irrigation equipment to various parts of the middle east and Asia.Paddy worked at a range of Adelaide hospitals spending most of her career at the Lyell McEwin Hospital where she became a well respected Deputy Director of Nursing. Doug was successful in the export business and was soon recruited by Lightforce to become their Export Manager promoting vehicle spotlights and specialized lighting equipment for guns and hunting.Doug remained with Lightforce until his retirement. Doug continued to play and be involved with rugby,first as a player for Old Collegians Rugby Club, and then with Gawler Rugby Club where he was a player,captain and president of the club and then finally as a referee, possibly the only referee in South Australia to penalise one of his sons for a double movement and disregard the try and to threaten the other son with a send off if he called him Dad again. Doug also organized an invitational side Adelaide Welsh for Welsh emigres and occasionally some lucky foreigners to play games ar Tregenza against visitng naval ships and enjoyed playing in the front row with both od his sons against HMAS Vampire on one occasion. Together with rugby, Doug's great passions were male choirs,playing the stock market and staying connected with all things Welsh. Doug was instrumental in bringing the Treorchy Male Voice Choir to Australia, and organnizing extensive tours.He maintained a close connection with the Choir, and always attended practice sessions and concerts when in Wales. He also organized tours of the Sydney Welsh Choir, and was an active participant in the Adelaide Plains Choir and also the Leidertafel Choir. Doug lived and breathed music, particularly Welsh male voice choirs, and there was no chance of a lie in on Sunday mornings as the hose exploded with the sounds of choirs, or alternatively Richard Burton loudly articulating Dyland Thomas' Under Milkwood.Objections were simply ignored! Doug was as colourful a character as his father seems to have been,he had a unique way of getting his message across, an example being the Christmas presents for his sons that included, soap on a rope and Alka Seltzer...a comment from their father. If you were visiting Wales you could expect a list of requirements for all manner of things Of particular note were

  • Instructions to meet a man that you had never met, at a service station you had never been to, at a particular junction on the M4 motorway and he would give you a Bosun's whistle.Who this man was and thge purpose of the Bosun's whistle remain a mystery to this day, but the deed was done, and said whistle brought back to Gawler.
  • The journey in pursuit of Lifebuoy Soap was another requirement.Whilst you could go into the supermarket and purchase Lifebuoy Soap,it wasn't the proper Lifebuoy Soap;the pinkie orange bar of soap from times past. However, they have it in a farm supply shop in Pembroke West Wales and with the aid of Auntie Pat, and much rummaging in the farm shop the soap was found, and judging by the dusty box, it had been there since the 1960s.

In contrast with his larger than life personality and reputation for socializing,Doug was a man of faith,regularly attending the churches of the Barossa Parish for many years. He loved nothing more than a Sunday morning outing to church with one of the dogs to keep him company, and a good loud song sing of a favourite hymn. The family would like to acknowledge those people who have travelled to be here today and also those who were unable to be here, particularly the family in Wales., old familf friends and Rhiannon, a much loved granddaughter currently on a study trip in Germany. Doug's sister pat, has sent a message from Wales, to share with you today... Doug was my big brother.He was everything to me.he was demanding, exasperating,energetic,clever,witty, larger than life and I'll miss him dreadfully as I'm sure we all will. I cannot express the gratitude i feel when I thinnk of him and all we went through,especially in the early years. He always tried to do his best,not only for me,but for many people,both as individuals and organizations.He would put his all into everything he did. His enthusiasm could sometimes be exhausting and left most of us trailing in his wake.He lived life to the full and shall, I know, be remembered for that. When we think of him we shall probably recall one of his many one liners and laugh or at least smile. What better legacy is there.Thank you Doug.God bless. Gone to play the game in heaven. Siwrne saff Doug. Cymru am byth.

firstbrook douglas parry 001
firstbrook douglas parry 001

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