Our guest speaker was one of our own.  David Stokes was born at the old Wagga Base Hospital in 1961, the son of Geoff and Norma of “Little Springs”.His father was born in Cooma, the son of the chief surveyor for the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and his mother was from Cootamundra, the daughter of a plasterer who did the local railway station ceilings.  David was a survivor of Gregadoo Public School which closed and he then went to Lake Albert Public School where he was Dux in 1973.His parents subdivided the farm into 8 x 100-acre blocks and sold up in 1979, whereupon they moved to Lake Macquarie, and David enrolled in a BComm at Newcastle University, majoring in Accountancy.
At age 21 David happened to be at Guadalcanal in the Solomon islands when by chance he met the Pope John Paul II, not long after the 1981 assassination attempt, who had just landed for a visit on his way to Australia.  “Ah, good-ay Your Holiness”, to which the Pope replied, “You must be from Australia”.
With such connections on high, David qualified as a Chartered Accountant and started working with KPMG, with stints in London (2 years) and Suva (4 years), before moving back to Sydney, then to a gold mine in West Papua during the 2008 financial crisis, his own on-line business in Bali when the Covid-19 pandemic came along, and finally back to Australia.  Somewhere along the way he also met fellow accountant and Rotarian David Pyke.  Just one darn thing after another.
In 2020 he started working for JLL on Transgrid’s Project Energy Connect infrastructure project to construct a new high voltage electricity transmission line between Wagga and South Australia.  He negotiated the acquisition of easements from 40 landowners, surviving one veiled death threat, before transitioning across to the HumeLink project between Adelong and Yass in 2021.This is challenging work, requiring an understanding of people, listening with empathy, and finding solutions.  There are some difficult matters. His family has come full circle with electricity supply.
David answered some questions on compensation and “why should we employ you if you only stay in jobs for a short while?”, and concluded to a generous round of applause.