Humans of the Wheatbelt - Ian Gibbs

Humans of the Wheatbelt is an imitative by the Wheatbelt Health Network.
Humans of the Wheatbelt is an imitative by the Wheatbelt Health Network.

I was born and bred in Northam and I've lived here all my life, which is seventy-four years. I always thought that home was where you make it. There were some times when I thought it might be nice to go live on the coast, but when you think about it there's no place like Northam. We've had a lot of immigrants come through over the years so I got to meet Polish, Ukrainians and everyone else and I still have a lot of them as friends. The local people here are fantastic.

As a child, I first went to Northam Primary School before Avonvale PS was built, then moved over to Avonvale when it opened. I did my secondary schooling at Northam Senior High School and then did a five-year apprenticeship with my father, who was a localbuilder. It was and still is a family-owned business. My father was a great boss and very fair. These days, my son is part of the business which brings us up to five generations that have been involved in W. Gibbs and Son.

The way I met my wife Ann was I was the boy captain and she was the girl captain of the Northam Swimming Club. I'm three years older than she is and we started going out when she was sixteen. It was a good life that I had in my early years despite the restrictions that were put on me. There was an old hut that was really a milking shed down by the pool and we did some work on it and it became our clubrooms. We used to take a radiogram down there on a Friday night to play records and dance. I am a little sad about the closing of the old pool, but it's past its use by date now and the Shire had been having a lot of problems with it. Just like us, as we get older it takes a lot more effort to make us look beautiful!

The worst times in my life were probably when my mother and father passed on. Both of my sisters have left this earth too. I think that's sad because I'm a very family orientated person. If I was going away somewhere, I'd always want my family there with me. The thing I'm proudest of in my life are my four children: one boy and three girls. My eldest daughter is a ward receptionist at Hollywood Hospital. Another daughter is a pathology technician, the third works here in Northam at Café Yasou, and of course my son works in the business with me. I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so we're doing very well in the population department!

I used to be a member of the Lions club here in Northam. I'm also President of the Northam Rotary club. This is the third time I've been President in my thirty-odd years in Rotary. I get a lot out of it, especially the Youth Exchange program. We send our students all over the world for twelve months and they come back full of enthusiasm for doing great things. That gladdens my heart to see. There's enough grief in this world so it's nice to see young people who have their heads screwed on the right way.

In the building industry these days, some of the rules and regulations we have to abide by have become quite traumatic. It was a lot easier when I was an apprentice. People nowadays demand a lot more. That can be a good thing, as competition keeps us on our toes. My dad was pretty inspirational to me growing up. We'd get up in the morning and have breakfast and then be at work by eight o'clock. We worked so well together and there was never a cross word between us. I have a similar relationship with my own son. He keeps up with all the new technology and I just let him get on with it.

In terms of advice I have for young people, we all see a lot of doom and gloom on the television and in the newspapers. Everyone needs guidance and they don't always get it, so the kids of today are sometimes left operating on their animal instincts. We all hear about young people behaving badly, but I believe that a lot of the responsibility should be directed at the parents.

Human - Ian Gibbs,

Interviewer - Shirley Cook,

Photographer - Anna Cornish

Writer - Guy Salvidge