Laurie Worsnop (1946-2011)

 

Laurie Worsnop 2010

Lawrence Joseph Worsnop was born at the Mia Mia private hospital at 21 Smith Street in the inner northern Melbourne suburb of Thornbury on 3 July 1946. †He was the third of 11 children born to Joseph Worsnop and his wife Gwen (nee Jones).† Laurie grew up with his family in the suburb of Carnegie about 13 kilometres south-east of Melbourneís city centre.

Laurie initially attended the nearby St Anthonyís Primary School in Neerim Road on the corner of Grange Road at Glenhuntly; in the shadow of the Caulfield racecourse. †From the late 1950s, Laurie attended Christian Brothers College in Westbury Street East St Kilda, just north of Dandenong Road not far from Nat Mapís 1949-1959 office location in the All Saints Anglican Church Hall (Gregory Hall) in Chapel Street.† Laurie achieved his Intermediate Certificate at CBC in 1962.† While at Christian Brothers College, Laurie spent some time in the school cadets but did not think highly of the approach to discipline through too many afternoons spent marching around the school parade ground.†

Also while at Christian Brothers College, Laurie starting playing squash. †Apparently Laurie took to the sport with some enthusiasm and would manage to disappear to play squash while the rest of the CBC school boys were engaged in other sports. †Laurie was fortunate to play squash with the renowned Ken Hiscoe who went on to become a multiple Australian champion and the holder of many international individual and team tiles.† Ken Hiscoe later held the coveted world No 1 ranking in squash.† Laurie Worsnop went on to become a highly skilled squash player and to win many tournaments and awards in Melbourne and in Canberra.

The Rialto

Soon after leaving school, Laurie went to work for the commonwealth governmentís Division of National Mapping at its then office in the Rialto Building at 497 Collins Street Melbourne.† By the late 1960s Laurie was Nat Mapís senior Administrative Officer and ran the small admin support section in the front office on the second floor of the Rialto.†

As well as dealing with the Rialto officeís administrative needs, Laurie also provided the interface with Nat Mapís host organisation, the Department of National Development.† This interface was affected through the departmentís Victorian Regional Office that was located a few blocks away in the ANZ Bank Building at 460 Bourke Street; the regional office was overseen by formidable executive officer Jim Sullivan.† Other admin staff at the Rialto then included: IDF Ian Claessen who had joined Nat Map in early 1961; Billie Cruickshanks who had also joined around the early 1960s; NM Noelene Burgess who had joined in early 1968 and Robyn Hayes who had also joined in 1968.†

While overseeing the work of his section, Laurie also personally undertook a significant work load.† He was well respected for this depth of knowledge, work ethic and a seemingly infallible ability to get things done.† While Laurie was respected as a helpful facilitator, Nat Mappers soon accepted that if Laurie advised against a proposed course of action, then another approach to the matter had to be thought through.† At all times Laurie had a cheerful, cooperative and helpful demeanour as well as a highly developed sense of humour.† After work, he was often at the old Federal Hotel then on the nearby corner of King and Collins Streets for a few drinks; he was always good company.

Marriage to Robyn Hayes

In the Rialto office from 1968, Laurie started paying some attention to the very attractive dark haired Robyn Hayes who worked as secretary to JD Joe Lines the head of Nat Mapís Melbourne office with the title of Assistant Director.† However, Laurieís and Robynís personal relationship was unknown to many Nat Mappers and never intruded on their professional lives.† Laurie Worsnop and Robyn Hayes married in 1970.† Initially they lived in Carnegie and later at nearby Murrumbeena.†

Move to Canberra

In 1971, Laurie was promoted to a position in the central office of the then Department of National Development and he and Robyn moved to Canberra in February of that year.† The Worsnops were to remain in Canberra for some 13 years.† During their early days there, owing to the paucity of suitable accommodation they lived in various suburbs.† Firstly they were at Curtin and then at Lyons both on Canberraís south side prior to buying a house in the north-western Belconnen suburb of Spence.† Later Laurie and Robyn built their own home in the neighbouring suburb of Evatt.

During Laurieís time in Canberra he undertook a structural review of Nat Mapís Melbourne office with Len Turner who was then an Assistant Director in charge of Nat Mapís Canberra-based Bathymetric mapping operations.† The revised Melbourne office structure that this review recommended was implemented when the Melbourne office relocated to Dandenong in April 1977.† Laurie later worked for several departments in Canberra.† He went on to rise rapidly in the commonwealth public service and into the senior executive service ranks.† Laurie was to have roles as a departmental General Manager, Human Resources and as a departmental General Manager, Finance at various times.

Laurie continued his squash playing with several Canberra clubs including at the National Tennis and Squash Centre at the inner northern suburb of Lyneham; where he was to become one of the youngest board members.† While at Canberra, Laurieís and Robynís first two sons were born: Matthew in 1971 and Adam in 1974.† Also while in Canberra Laurie found the time to build a couple of houses with friends from the squash club; Laurie did this mainly to broaden his interests.

Back to Melbourne

In 1984, Laurie gave up his public service career of nearly 20 years duration and the Worsnop family returned to Melbourne. †Here later that year Laurieís and Robynís youngest son Ned was born.† The family initially settled in the south-eastern bayside suburb of Cheltenham.† After renovating that house, they moved to nearby Parkdale where they renovated two more homes prior to settling for a while in the latter of the two.† Finally, the Worsnops moved to a newly built house in Parkdale after deciding to take a break from home renovations.

Back in Melbourne Laurie was looking to take up employment in the private sector.† He had such natural ability that he could turn his hand to virtually anything and do it well.† Over the next 15 years or so Laurie pursued opportunities as either an employee or business partner with a number of companies.† Laurie found his opportunities in wide ranging fields from wrought iron fencing, to computing and to property development and management.

After recovering from repeated bouts of the heart condition pericarditis in early 2000, Laurie tried a quieter employment pursuit as the maintenance man at a disability organisation.† However, his abilities were quickly recognised and he soon became the Chief Executive Officer of that organisation.† Unfortunately, Laurie had to give up his CEO role after being diagnosed with bowel cancer from which he recovered after treatment.† He then found a new role in a property development company. †Around this time Laurie also found two new personal interests, namely golf and the service organisation Rotary.

Laurie took to golf with an enthusiasm similar to that of his early squash playing days.† He had excellent hand-eye coordination even though he couldn't see much at all without his glasses.† After he took up golf Laurie won an elite award at the Woodlands Golf Clubís course in White Street Mordialloc to the south of Moorabbin airport in Melbourneís famed sand belt golf course area.† Laurieís family still take pride in seeing his name on the Clubís honour board. †

Around 2003, with a small group of like minded people Laurie established Disaster Aid Australia.† That organisation aimed to provide innovative Australian-based humanitarian packages of shelter and related equipment to help family units survive with dignity in post-disaster situations.† DAA also provided equipment such as water systems, solar lighting and tentage packages for schools and similar community facilities in post-disaster situations.† DAA later became a project of the Rotary Club of Endeavour Hills, one of the 48 clubs in Rotary District 9820 that services Gippsland, south-eastern Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.† Laurie put his heart and soul and much of his time into Disaster Aid Australia and into the Rotary Club of Endeavour Hills.† He served on the board of the Rotary Club and was immensely proud of what both these organisations achieved.† In 2011, Laurie received the coveted Paul Harris Fellowship for his outstanding service to his Rotary Club.

Vale Laurie Worsnop

Tragically around March 2011, Laurie was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.† Over the next eight months as his health failed, Robyn cared for Laurie in their family home at Parkdale.† Throughout this harrowing time Laurieís sociability and sense of humour never left him.† After cramming so much into his life Laurie Worsnop succumbed to his illness and died on 21 November 2011 a few months after his 65th birthday.†

Laurie was survived by his ten siblings and by his widow Robyn and by their three sons Matthew, Adam and Ned as well as by three of his and Robynís now four grand children.† Laurie Worsnopís funeral service was held on 25 November 2011 at St Brigidís Catholic Church at 520 Main Street Mordialloc.

As well as being a man of great honour and integrity, Laurie Worsnop was a loving and devoted husband and the proud and caring father of his three sons and an adoring grandfather.† He was a man who enjoyed life and caring for others.† He also had immense ability and a great sense of fun.† Laurie was an inspiration to his family who sadly miss him.† Laurie Worsnop is also fondly remembered and sadly missed by the many Nat Mappers who knew him or worked with him in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

Prepared by Laurie McLean in July 2014 in consultation with Robyn Worsnop, Rod Menzies and Paul Wise.

 

Postscript

This tribute to Laurie Worsnop arose from the chance meeting of strangers on a cruise of the British Isles in June 2014. †Former Nat Map surveyor Rod Menzies (Nat Map 1977-1994) together with his wife Ann had taken a cruise on the MV Island Sky from Portsmouth to Edinburgh via Ireland and Wales.† During that cruise they met fellow traveller Robyn Worsnop who until that time was unknown to them.† Their conversations included their respective backgrounds and their mutual connection with National Mapping was soon established.† Robyn then conveyed the sad news of her husbandís untimely death.

 

Robyn Worsnop (centre) with Rod and Ann Menzies at Inverness, Scotland June 2014.