No skinny dipping on Don’s watch

February 08, 2017

Murchison is lucky to have a resident like Don Polkinghorne, 88.

It may have been the late-night skinny dippers that kept Murchison’s Don Polkinghorne maintaining the community pool for more than 30 years.

But it was most certainly his love of the town that had Don tirelessly devote his time to the pool and the community where he has sat on almost every committee he possibly could.

The community stalwart chuckled, remembering the bizarre time he had received a phone call in the middle of the night telling him to get down to the pool.

‘‘I’ve got a mate who lives over the road (from the pool) and he always calls me,’’ Don, 88, said.

‘‘He rang in the middle of the night and said there’s people skinny dipping in the pool.’’

It was not the only time Don headed out in the middle of the night warding off naughty nudity or to tend to a pool, or perhaps community, emergency.

‘‘I’d like to thank my wife Gloria. She didn’t know all the times I snuck out,’’ he said.

Don makes you feel as if you have known him forever.

The octogenarian is always up for a laugh and leaves a smile on the faces of those around him.

It is not just the Murchison pool that has stayed afloat thanks to the unbelievable commitment he and wife Gloria have to the community and its various groups and organisations.

‘‘He loves this town,’’ Murchison pool committee treasurer Michelle Brown said.

‘‘The town’s lucky to have him. He’s great. He’s like a grandfather to those in the town.’’

Don’s community involvement stretches to every corner of the historical rural town where he has spent hours on committees.

The Historical Society, Australia Day committee, bowls club, Murchison Action Group and Murchison Football Club are just a handful of the organisations Don has contributed to, with Gloria never too far away.

‘‘You can sit with him for a week and learn the history of this town and he wouldn’t repeat a thing,’’ son-in-law and fellow pool maintenance man David Duff said.

After running Murchison Transport for several years, Don left a lasting impression on the young men who worked for him.

‘‘He’s influenced a lot of the boys who loaded carts for us with their success in life,’’ Gloria said.

‘‘And the legacy of the business still lives on today after one former staff member felt so connected to Murchison Transport he asked the Polkinghornes if he could continue to operate under the name.

‘‘Every time he gets a new truck Don comes and gets his photo taken with it.’’

Just about everything in Murchison has a connection to Don.

‘‘I made the star that lights up in Meteorite Park,’’ he said.

‘‘I built it in my garage and home and then I had to cut it up because I couldn’t get it out.”

Don’s artistic abilities did not stop there, he also penned a poem about Murchison and painted the various murals around town.

‘‘We call him Mr Fix-It,’’ Michelle said.

‘‘If anything is broken or needs fixing Don is on the job.’’

Using this talent, Don was the man responsible for sourcing and installing the pool’s famous waterslide.

‘‘They named the slide after me,’’ he said, a testament to the hard work he put in for something that continues to be a drawcard for the facility.

‘‘He just does things and doesn’t need thanks for it,’’ Murchison Australia Day committee president Robert Brown said.

‘‘It’s not just the pool, it’s the whole town.’’

After a computer-operated pool system was put in place, Don said it was time to let son-in-law David take a firmer hold of the reins.

‘‘I’ve got a good sidekick,’’ Don said.

‘‘My son-in-law has helped me all the way along.’’

Don said he would continue to do as much as he could when it came to the pool and maybe he might just catch one more group of late-night skinny dippers.

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