Ben from Central NSW
Hello my name is Ben
and I’m thirty-eight. My wife Emily came from North London, we married on 31st May 2005. We have 3 children, Ernest (7), Mabel (5) and Daisy (2).
A Background in Farming
Our family moved from NZ in early 1900’s and we were farming until recently when the family property was sold. I worked as a farmer until 2006. There was little future in farming for our family as we only had a small property; it was more a way of life than earning a proper living. We had a piggery, fattened sheep and cattle and had a small contract bailing operation. Apart from the fact of the lifestyle I can’t say I miss the farming and now that I’m married I appreciate being in business as it is a little bit more predictable. It’s only very occasionally I look in a field and see that the crops are growing nicely, and everything looks like a picture, but then… I look away and I’ve forgotten about it again. So, no, I’d definitely have to say there’s really no regrets at all.
From when I left school I always had an idea to start a business in metal fabrication and now I work in our family business and build truck trailers for heavy machinery like earthmovers and excavators. Ten years ago, I could never have imagined working in an industrial estate in our own business. From feeding pigs, riding round on quad bikes, chasing sheep with dogs and driving tractors, to sitting in an office trying to get sales, it’s quite a big change. It was my ambition to sell the farm, to move on and get something going in the manufacturing line. My goal is to be in a position ten years from now to work less hours in the business. I want more freedom to spend more time with family, be available to help out with schooling and fundraising initiatives, and help out in the wider community. That’s where I’d like to see myself. The challenge is to build up the business so that it will allow me to get there.
Initially, I went to North Dakota on business. It was on that trip that I met my wife in London, so in that sense it was a very, very worthwhile trip! I had some friends and relatives in North Dakota and the Tillsonburg area, in Ontario Canada. I went on to England to meet some friends over there. I travelled a lot of the southern part of England sightseeing and went down to the White Cliffs of Dover and right down to Land’s End, that’s the bottom tip of England and I saw Stonehenge and old castles. There’s a lot of history there. I met my wife to be on the same trip, which was brilliant! She, for some funny reason, decided to marry me and come and live in Australia about 18 months later, which I’m very thankful for! Around the time of getting married I was over in England for three weeks, and travelled a bit, through Ireland, Northern Ireland, did a bit of tripping around, seeing a few interesting places such as the Giants Causeway, Bushmills Distillery and the walled city in Londonderry. I went for a swim with some friends on the Northern Ireland beaches, looking across to the Scottish Isles; just beautiful. It was quite chilly but in a wetsuit it was okay. I then went across to France and drove down to Italy, from Lyon down to Bologna. We drove down through the French Alps; the snow on top of the mountains with the sun beaming on them and the old castles hanging off the side of the hills, it was absolutely beautiful! It was very, very interesting to see all the history; the amphitheatres in Lyon, the aqueducts and the viaducts and everything. I’ve been back to England three times since we were married and most recently I went back in October 2012 to Germany to a trade show on trucks and trailers trying to get some new ideas for the business and also visited Hamburg and Berlin. So I suppose I’ve been around a few places!
Making a home for the family
We have just sold the house where we’re living and bought an old house that we’re restoring. I think it’s actually an old Anglican rectory from the early photos that we’ve found of it. We’re doing an extension on it. I bought it from a friend that was moving out. It’s an old Federation-style home; I’ve always liked doing up old houses. I don’t particularly like the new styles of houses and don’t like living on rural lifestyle blocks as I’d rather live closer to the town. They definitely don’t build houses like they used to and that makes it a little more difficult to extend. We’re trying to keep the style going through. The original part of the house has thirteen-foot ceilings, double brick and verandas. We’re adding another lounge, dining, some bedrooms and a bathroom. A builder is doing the main extension. We do a lot of work after hours and weekends. Where possible I try to source old materials and things like that for the renovations or at least something that looks like the original. I like to try to keep everything looking the same.
Spending time with the kids.
One of the things the children enjoy most is attending our church meetings every day in fact they are very upset if they have to stay at home. We often go out on Saturdays for a walk or a drive. We enjoy sightseeing; lately we’ve been driving along the tracks and going for bushwalks in the hills. It’s been a beautiful spring and we’ve had some very good walks and found nice scenic views. We like taking the kids to the beach, when we can get there. A couple of weeks ago we went down to the Blowhole, Nowra, and saw some whales in the ocean. Then about a week and a half ago, my father-in-law was over from England, and we took him back to the airport and stopped in between Maroubra and Coogee, bought some tea and had it out on the rocks overlooking the ocean and saw some more whales there, the kids were fascinated. We often see wildlife such as kangaroos and lizards when we’re out in the bush. I’ve never actually seen a snake on a walk but my wife has, so it’s always a bit of a danger. My wife is not fond of snakes so we tend to try to keep out of the bush in the hot dusty times and keep bushwalking to the winter and early spring. We go out in the winter months, light up a fire, and barbecue our meat over the coals.
On being part of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church community
I’d have to honestly say I’ve never had any regrets; only positive, favourable memories. I would want to be nowhere else other than belonging to the Brethren for the sense of safety and security. Life has its challenges – I believe everyone has challenges. However, as far as my upbringing, I could never say that I’ve been deprived. I’ve been out and about and have seen what the world has to offer and I have made my choices. Above all Christianity is my life; it’s what governs and motivates me. It’s the way of life that we have, I suppose. To put it simply, we’re assured of what we’re doing, and where we’re going. We have acquaintances in our work lives that aren’t community members and their lives are often in turmoil – this way and that way, parents who don’t want them at home or… whereas in our way of life, I can honestly say that I would never be anywhere else. We have friends, we have good times together and we partake of the Lords Supper once a week, which is the focal point of our life. We have proved the support, for example when the kids were newborn, we had meals provided and numerous offers to help with the daily household chores. If the children need to be looked after or picked up from school there is support, we work together. Even financially, if something happens or somebody is in a tight spot, support is available. We can go to another community member and ask for support or help in any business connection. I believe that trust and faith in community members in a world of distrust and uncertainty is something that is unmatched. Not that we don’t have to make our own decisions, I would have to say that being part of the community we’ve got support all the way, everywhere we turn, if we want it or need it.