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Yamba Probus Club member Noel Charles is the winner of the ‘Probus Annual Award for Literary Excellence’. Image: Geoff Helisma

Memories make poetic magic

Geoff Helisma |

Noel Charles, 85, is driven to write and perform his poetry.

Since the Independent (then the Clarence Valley Review) first reported on the Yamba man’s poetic bent in 2006, he has shared his work at many functions around the northern parts of NSW and had his poems published, some of which have received awards.

In the December/January edition of the Probus Club’s magazine, Active Retirees, his poem, Shadows of Yesterday, was published and nominated as a finalist in the magazine’s literary competition.

In April, Probus South Pacific Limited awarded Mr Charles the ‘The Probus Annual Award for Literary Excellence’, in recognition of his winning achievement, which “best exemplifies the ‘True Spirit of Probus’”.

“It’s about looking down from St Helena Hill at Byron Bay where I grew up,” Mr Charles said of his poem.

He said his motivation was a “wish to be able to go back a week or a day and relive all of the things in the poem”.

“I consider this the highest award I’ve got from my years of writing poetry,” Mr Charles said.

Mr Charles said he averages around eight performances a year and that inspiration comes “into his head” whenever the “muse” appears.

He nominated the monthly Yamba Country Music Muster at the Yamba Bowling Club as one venue he enjoys.

“It’s a chance to be with great music artists; I can’t sing or play music, but I can recite poetry,” he said.

“I like to come out and say a bit of Australiana or something that I wrote that will affect the people who are listening in the audience.”

The Yamba Probus Club’s president, Gwen Mapstone, said: “We are very proud of Noel to win this award and he was very excited when I told him.

“He’s a lovely person and we appreciate his work – he often has a poem that suits a situation.

“Noel was one the first people to talk to us when we came to Yamba and joined the club two and half years ago – he’s a very valuable member.”

Ms Mapstone was a Probus member in Tenterfield before moving to the area.

Probus South Pacific says on its website: “Probus provides you with the opportunity to join together in clubs and to progress healthy minds and active bodies through social interaction and activities with retirees in your community.

“Probus opens the door to new experiences and friendships; you can hear wonderful guest speakers, stay active by participating in a wide range of activities and explore your community, your country or the world.”

Shadows of Yesterday (verse one of four)

I’m looking down on the town, where once again I see
The memories of my youth coming flooding back at me.
The creek that snaked around, the old shacks upon its shore,
A couple of boats neglected, not to be used there anymore.
As if the ghosts remain there, then slowly fade away,
Until another tide claims more from them each day.
There still is the little church, where the local choir sang
And people kneeling there, when the bells of calling rang.