Birthday celebration

On Tuesday, Aalwynhof resident Katie du Plessis reached the grand age of 91 years old. This special birthday was celebrated with her son Dup and daughter-in-law Sus of Aberdeen, who took along plenty of cake so that the other residents and staff could celebrate with the family.

Mrs du Plessis was born in Hofmeyr in 1926, and made her life there for many years. Both her sons (Dup, and his brother Charl, who now lives in Australia with his family) were born in the town. She was very well known in the town through her gift shop and, at a later stage, antique shop. She was also very involved with the setting up of the museum in the town. Her husband, who passed away in 1996, was the headmaster of the local high school.

After spending about 14 years at the Elizabeth Jordaan Old Age Home in Cradock, she moved to Aalwynhof in May this year to be closer to her family in the town. Although physically frail, she is very happy at Aalwynhof, and loves reliving memories from many years ago. Her family is very grateful to the staff for their kindness and the caring attitude and courtesy shown towards all the residents and their families.

Women’s day celebrated at Cong church

Last Sunday, Esme Finnis, one of the deacons of the Aberdeen branch of the Congregational Church of South Africa, was the speaker at a special service for Women’s Day.

The theme was “Every tear tells a story”, and Finnis based her talk on a verse from St John’s gospel where mary is asked why she is crying.

The aim of the talk and accompanying spiritual dance was to motivate women, particularly after several recent acts of violence against women. The church choirs lso performed several moving items.

Clinic baby competition


Last Friday a competition was held at the Masikhane Clinic in Aberdeen for babies up to the age of two. This was not like the usual baby competitions were the child is judged on its looks and clothing, but rather on its health and the mother’s compliance with clinic visits and immunisations.

Staff at the clinic went to a lot of trouble to arrange the competition, inviting mothers with young babies to participate as an encouragement. The main purpose of the event was to promote breastfeeding and family planning amongst the mothers, and the wellbeing of both mothers and babies.

Sr Yolande Lewies, operational manager for Masikhane Clinic, opened the proceedings and welcomed the guests.. MC Christiaan Africa, a member of the Clinic Committee, was one of the few men present, but this did not deter him from doing a wonderful job! One wall of the waiting room was beautifully decorated with a wheel, in a suitable theme, by local decorator Rose Africa, and an array of eats was sponsored by Tuin Kaffee.

Sr Nobantu Jack, acting local sub-district manager, was the guest speaker, and she explained the many benefits of breastfeeding to the young mothers. Bottle feeding os actively discouraged, and for hygiene reasons, it was recommended that mothers should use either a cup or teaspoon if they need to feed their babies any other liquids.

There were 46 entrants in the competition, which was divided up into three age groups. Much of the assessment had actually taken place at regular clinic visits, and the mothers had to provide both the baby’s clinic card and their own family planning card. To be eligible for any prize, the mother had to be breastfeeding her baby, and be using a contraceptive. Judges checked that the baby’s immunisations were up to date, and that they had been for the stipulated regular clinic check-ups. The state of the baby’s skin was also examined, and their general wellbeing.

Enzo Jantjies was the winner in the 7 to 12 month age group, and Priscilla Miyana came top in the category 13 to 24 months. First, second and third prizes were awarded for each age group, as well as two special prizes. These were donated by local businesses, and consisted of “goody bags” of baby goods. Jan-Hendrik Jordaan, from the main sponsor Tuin Kaffee, presented the prizes.

Although the start of the competition was delayed, and many of the mothers and babies ended up waiting for several hours, the vast majority of the babies were calm and quiet, much to the relief of all concerned! The mothers and guests enjoyed the snacks, and the time spent together.

Spelling festival


Kamdebo Primary School is very proud of grade 6 pupil Ethan Job, who was awarded top place in the recent Sanlam WOW Afrikaans Spelling Bee cluster competition held in Graaff-Reinet. Four learners from Kamdebo participated in the competition: Abigail Kalaka in grade 4, Morisha Fick from grade 5, Ethan, and Chandre Mytieniers from grade 7. The girls all performed well, but (unusually) it was the only boy representing the school who came out tops! 

The Graaff-Reinet district competition started in 2015 with six primary schools and three high schools. In 2016 it grew to nine primary and four high schools, including one school from Somerset East.  In 2017 a whopping nineteen primary schools and five high schools registered. Somerset East schools had their own competition to save them travelling time, but all the other schools participated in Graaff-Reinet. These schools were grouped into two sections of six.

The top ten learners of each of the two Graaff-Reinet groups, together with the top ten from Somerset East, will take part in the District competition on Tuesday 22nd August. From here, the top seven of each grade will qualify for the Provincial competition to be held at NMU Missionvale campus in Port Elizabeth on 2nd September where they will be competing against Port Elizabeth District, Humansdorp and Uitenhage.  The top three winners of each grade at this competition qualify to take part in the National Gala on Saturday 21 October in Stellenbosch.

Each grade has a number of words to be studied by the learners, ranging from 300 words for grades 1 and 2 up to 700 for grades 6 and 7. At the circuit and district competitions learners must know about 50 % of these words, and they will also be tested on other “unseen” words.

Ethan, under his coach HOD Chris de Jager, will no doubt be studying hard and aiming to represent his school, and Aberdeen, through many more rounds of the competition.

Aalwynhof women’s day

The Governing Body of Aalwynhof, Home for Older Persons, treated the residents, specially invited lady guests, and the staff of the institution to a tea at Aalwynhof on 9th August, Women’s Day.

Amongst the guests were ladies who have been involved with Aalwynhof over the years,  as well as ladies with a special interest in the Home.

On arrival the guests were welcomed at the door leading to the lounge by Christa van Rensburg, a member of the Governing Body, before being seated at one of the elegantly decorated tables.

Christa Beyers opened the proceedings with a prayer, and then Chairlady Diane Nel welcomed all the guests.

Dr Olive Muller, the local doctor, had been unanimously elected as Aalwynhof’s first Lady of the Year for her caring service to the residents for many years.  She was presented with a beautiful bouquet by Buks van Niekerk, another member of the Governing Body.

Guests and residents then tucked in to the delicious refreshments provided, whilst enjoying socialising.

The guest speaker was Gina de Beer, a vibrant lady in her eighties, who had her audience captivated with anecdotes of Aalwynhof in the past.  De Beer spoke at length about the history of Aalwynhof and some of the “characters” involved with the Home over the years. The house that Dr Muller now lives in was in fact the original old age home of the town, which opened in 1950, and after this became too small,  a great deal of work by the then committee of the ACCV led to the building of the current Home, which took in its first residents in 1974.

One particularly amusing tales was about when she took a group of ladies to help cater at an auction on a farm. After working very hard throughout the day, the ladies were offered a dop of brandy and coke, which they enthusiastically devoured, with a refill. The next day, one sheepishly confessed to having fallen asleep on her return, missing both her bath and supper! She also explained that the name Aalwynhof was originally suggested by a Mrs van der Merwe,  due to the proliferation of the plants in the area –and that despite the somewhat “bitter” association, the plant bloomed through the hard winter time, and presented a cheerful face to the outside world.

After the speech, Kathleen Kolaka led a choir made up of members of staff, who closed the programme with a performance of two songs for the guests.

Diane Nel explained that the idea behind this tea was to open the doors of Aalwynhof to the ladies of the town, and to show them what is being done there to make life easier and happier for the residents.  The guests could also mingle freely with those of the residents who also attended the function.

Later in the afternoon, the staff on duty was also treated to tea and eats to thank them for their loyal and caring service.

Computer training


At the end of July, foundation phase teachers from three Aberdeen schools took part in a two-day workshop of computer training at Kamdebo Primary School. The staff members had received personal laptops from the Department of Education a few months earlier, and whilst this was a source of great delight to most, some were extremely nervous and not convinced of the benefits of computers for their teaching!

Facilitator Henry Thomson, District Chief Education Specialist from the Graaff-Reinet office of the Department of Education, proved to be an extremely patient and caring facilitator, and was able to address the concerns of the complete novices as well as inspire them to conquer their fears and master the basic skills necessary for classroom use. Most of the younger teachers already had a good level of competency, and were able to help the novices as well as hone their own skills.  Thomson was accompanied by an IT technician intern from the District Office.

The course aimed to provide basic Microsoft skills and instruction on using the internet to obtain information and photographs. At the end of the second day, the participants had to complete a test. Later in the year, two more courses will be held, once the teachers have had chance to become familiar with their laptops and the basic operations. Many are already excited at the thought of being able to learn how to complete tax returns online and do internet banking rather than stand in queues!

Thomson and his training team will be travelling extensively through the Graaff-Reinet education district, which reaches as far as from Cookhouse and Somerset East to Willowmore and Steytlerville. The training is being conducted throughout the whole Eastern Cape by facilitators in the different districts, all part of the department’s Laptop Initiative. All foundation phase teachers will have a laptop loaded with all the necessary Microsoft software, as well as 2GB of data per month.

Water shortage


Many residents are unsure about the current status of water restrictions in Graaff-Reinet. One person recently contacted the Advertiser, expressing her concern at the lack of information from the Municipality in this regard, stating that she had never received any letter or pamphlet about the water restrictions.

Last November, the council approved the introduction of water restrictions, and even before that, the municipality was urging residents to save water wherever possible.

In January, the municipality issued a press release about water restrictions, with notice that fines of up to R500 can be imposed on anyone who contravenes these restrictions. At that stage (16th January) the dam level stood at 23%, and current readings show the level to have dropped to 16%.

The average daily consumption exceeds the available volume of water.

The water restrictions are still in place, not only in Graaff-Reinet but throughout the whole of the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality.

According to Section 4 of the Water Services Act 108 and clause 31 of the Water Services and Sanitation Services Regulation, the use of water obtained from the municipality’s water supply system prohibits the following activities:

  1. a) the watering of gardens, lawns, grasslands, flower beds, sports fields, and similar;
  2. b) the filling of swimming pools
  3. c) the washing of outside walls, roofs, and buildings
  4. d) The use of hosepipes, automatic pool fillers,automatic urinal flushing systems and the connection of a pipeline or any irrigation system to a tap that uses water from the municipality’s water supply system.

Residents are thus reminded to use water only inside the house, and asked to repair any leaks in toilets and cisterns.  All residents are asked to conserve water and use it sparingly.

The municipality has requested that all water leaks and abuse of water be reported to 049 080 75756 or 049 807 5904 during office hours. The emergency number for the municipality’s Planning and Engineering department is 082 653 4009.

John Weldon tribute

Over 150 people came together in St James’ Church in Graaff-Reinet last Friday morning to bid a final farewell to Reverend Canon Francis John Weldon, rector of the church. He had passed away suddenly on 6th July at the age of 75 in Kroonstad, while travelling to Johannesburg for a short holiday with his family.

The requiem mass was conducted by Bishop Brian Marajh, and many members of the clergy from the diocese of George were also present at the moving service. Rev John Davies gave the address, with a touching tribute to his old friend.

“We as the Anglican Diocese of George have been blessed to have had Father John, who came out of retirement to come  to help us as Interim – Rector of St James,  Graaff- Reinet, as part of our clergy ministry team for the past five years. His spiritual insight and wisdom, at our meetings, will certainly be missed.  He was a true servant indeed, who placed service of God and others first. We are grateful to God for his life and witness” said the Bishop.

John was born in Zimbabwe in 1941. During the war his father was in the navy and John and his mother in Harare. As his mother was working, she took John to her aunt who was teaching in Somabula, between Bulawayo and Harare, where he spent a significant amount of time. He was usually in the classroom with her so picked up a lot before he started school in East London after they moved to South Africa. His sister Gail recalls that when he went to school at the age of five, at Selborne Primary and College in East London, they didn’t quite know where to place him as he was way ahead of the others who were starting school. He ended up in a class with boys a year older than himself, and so matriculated at the age of 17.

“With John being five years older than me he was definitely the big brother” said Gail. “The happiest holiday memories I have with him were at our holiday home at Bonza Bay near East London. He and his friend who lived next door often went out at night on a boat on the river crab fishing. I remember being so jealous that I couldn’t go out at night with them! He also spent many holidays on a farm in Wooldridge, in the Peddie district, which belonged to my grandmother’s family. I know he loved the time spent there and this could be why he really loved country towns.”

From school, John went on to study at St Pauls Theological College in Grahamstown, and it was during this period that he met Denise, who was to be his wife for 50 years.

He was ordained in 1965, and spent many years at various parishes in the Eastern Cape (including five years at St James’ Church in Graaff-Reinet) before moving to Johannesburg in 1983, where he was Rector of various churches. He was also a military chaplain from 1964 until he retired.

In 2006 the couple retired to Aberdeen, where they had bought a holiday home six years previously. The retirement was relatively short-lived, as in 2012 he was asked to serve as interim rector at St James’ once again. This was initially to be for three months, but he stayed in the position for over five years.

John always had a love of music, and sang in the church choir from an early age. He also played the violin for a short time, and in one school play he was part of a group dressed as gypsies, playing the violin. Many Aberdeen residents will remember another musical occasion when John dressed up –this time as a young Japanese lady at the poetry evenings leading the men in “Three Little Maids”!

He was a very talented craftsman, and his woodworking skills, particularly at fretwork, produced many beautiful and intricate pieces which will be treasured by his family and others fortunate enough to one them. John also loved old cars and motorbikes, and was a member of the Midland Car club in Graaff-Reinet. He took great delight in sharing his knowledge of cars with his daughter Susan last year when she bought her first car. “I bet I’m the best prepared person on the road thanks to Dad, as he stocked my car with spare bulbs, fuses, oil, and everything else I could possibly need” said Susan.

During his time in Aberdeen, John was actively involved in the community. He was deputy chairman of the Publicity Association, and also served on the committee of the Aberdeen Club. He was also a member of the Heritage society in Graaff-Reinet, and was on the committee of the Graaff-Reinet and District Cancer Association.

He leaves his wife Denise, children Jo-Anne, Debbie, Susan and Peter, and grandchildren Katherine, Liam and Emily.

In the words of his friend Rev John Davies, “John was tired, and his holiday was long overdue.  Father Oriel Alby graciously agreed to come and give John a break; but enough is enough, and the good Lord reached down suddenly, from on high, to take him into paradise, like Elijah of old.”

May he rest in peace: he will be sorely missed.

Craven Week rugby

Cadan-Wade Finnis was selected for the Eastern Province under 16 team to participate in the Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Craven Week which was contested recently. The tournament was held at Grey College in Bloemfontein from 10th to 14th July, and his proud grandparents Phillip and Esme Finnis of Aberdeen were thrilled to have the privilege of watching this talented youngster show his mettle for the whole tournament.

Cadan’s regular position is outside centre, but due to team constraints in this competition, he was selected to play on the left wing, in which position he performed very well. The team won two out of their three matches.

The next goal for Cadan, who turned 16 in March, is to be part of the provincial under 18 team for next year’s competition!

Garden club bakes up a storm


As the weather in July is not very conducive to gardening and outdoor activities, a slightly different meeting was held this month where the twenty members present were introduced to the intricacies of making and using puff pastry.

Host Richard Davison started work in the baking industry at the age of 15 in Torquay, England. He moved to South Africa with his wife Ann in 1972, and for many years the couple ran their own bakery in Mayfair in Johannesburg. From there they moved to East London where Richard was a regional manager of Pick ‘ Pay for the Eastern Cape, then he spent 10 years as a bakery consultant for Unilever in KZN, worked as a bakery technician in Durban, and had his own consulting company for three years.

In 2009 they retired to Aberdeen, where Richard has always been willing to share his expertise (and delicious products!)

At the meeting he shared his wealth of knowledge and many useful tips as he demonstrated the art of making perfect puff pastry by the Scotch method. Many members were seen carefully making a note Richard’s recipe, and there was a great deal of interest in some of the pastry gadgets he used. One fact that few people knew is that the composition of baking margarines differs according to the brand –Richard’s recommendation of Wooden Spoon for pastry due to its similarity to the product used by industrial bakers was duly noted. Many were also surprised to learn that butter should not be used for puff pastry.

On arrival, guests were welcomed with coffee and sweet palmiers, and a new batch of these pastries (otherwise known as pig’s ears or elephant ears) was the first delicacy to be demonstrated. Following this, Richard made a sweet apple slice with a lattice top – the lattice cutter gadget he used sparked a great deal of interest. Apple turnovers were next to go in the oven, as well as some plain pastry rectangles as used in custard slices and mille feuille.

After the demonstration, a selection of hot soups was enjoyed, accompanied by French bread, freshly baked by Richard and Ann that morning.