People of Ryde presents Warren Smith
Published on 12 June 2020
My name is Warren Smith, a bloke happily married for 37 years, with two children and three adorable grandchildren. I was also the 2017 Ryde Citizen of the Year and have been pleased to use that recognition to help raise awareness for organisations I volunteer for such as State Emergency Services (SES) and Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).
I’ve done so many charity sizzling BBQ’s chances are I’ve meet you.
From a humble upbringing, I worked hard during the day and studied every night for six years to progress from my first job washing cars to become an offset printer, then a fitter and turner, onto a mechanical engineer, all before my significant career as an executive in a large national company. Last of all I operated my own local building business for 25 years before taking early retirement in 2013 due to poor health—I survived cancer, a heart procedure and two back and shoulder operations.
Leaving behind the constraints of employment, I discovered that in retirement volunteering allowed me to go outside my comfort zone to discover unrealised talents as an effective public speaker. I now passionately give more than 30 hours per week to volunteering organisations.
I settled in Ryde in 1980, purchasing my family home here, which was a great decision as I have found our city to be a wonderful place to live and that spirit is the inspiration why I support my community in “making a difference”.
My first significant volunteering role was in the SES and came about following a tornado destroying my Ryde home in 2005. When I pulled up in front of my smashed home, my first thought was to get a bulldozer and start again. I can still recall the smell of the broken wet trees that had flattened my property. It took me a year to recover, but it motivated me to join the SES so I could help others know what to do to better prepare for storm emergencies.
Over many years, I have coordinated the SES stall at popular City of Ryde events such as the Granny Smith Festival, Lunar New Year, Harmony Day and numerous school fetes. I’ve done loads of interactive presentations on preparedness for storm and flood emergencies, as well as delivering innovative sequential multilingual talks in English with Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Indonesian, Turkish and Farsi translators and also to the deaf community via Auslan interpreters. In 2016 my efforts were recognised when I received the SES Commissioners Award.
For more than a decade I have volunteered at Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Ryde Centre which is an organisation run 100 percent by volunteers providing horse related therapy for people with a disability to assist our riders to achieve and progress physically, socially and educationally. By doing public presentations, tours, corporate days and fundraising events we have raised considerable donations and seen resident awareness of RDA move from about 4 percent to more than 60 percent.
Part of my Ryde Citizen of the Year award belongs to every dedicated volunteer I work alongside as a way to thank them for their support and dedication. Those dedicated volunteers are what make the rich fabric of our Ryde community.
People say I “know nearly everyone in Ryde” which I find perplexing to accept but put this down to being kind to everyone, taking an interest in our community and mostly saying “yes”.