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Yarra River Business Association

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Southbank Fashion

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A patch of green


13 Sep 2015

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Southbank Local News is excited and proud to be sharing the story of one of its dearest friends and one of the suburb’s first residents, David Beech.

Having first moved to Southbank Gardens at Dodds St in 1994 with wife Wendy, David can still recall the days when the area was referred to as South Melbourne.

Having happily resided at King Parks at Wells St since 1996, David said it had been wonderful to witness Southbank mature into the vibrant suburb it is today.

“It’s actually coming up to our 22nd year that we’ve been in Southbank and the majority of course have been here on Wells St and we can’t believe how this place has changed,” he said.

“When we first moved here the only contacts we made as such were the few people who lived within this complex, but it has spread beyond that a fair bit now because Southbank is a really vibrant place.”

“I think it’s a terrific place. There is so much happening; between here and the river there are so many things you can do.”

Having previously lived and worked in Ringwood for 24 years with their two sons, David said he and Wendy first moved to Southbank with the intention of being closer to the city and the arts precinct.  

A decorated career teacher, tutor and lecturer in a range of fields including arts, design and printmaking, David’s background with the arts and education has seen him become an admired and much loved figure in the local community.  

Having graduated from the Melbourne Teachers College in 1959, David went on to become a leading expert and developer of the first ever Computer Aided Design (CAD) program at the former Hawthorn Institute before moving to Melbourne University in 1997.

His passion for the arts and education would lead him to become one of the National Gallery of Victoria’s first ever male voluntary guides in 2000, where he went on to join the Voluntary Guide’s Alumni some nine years later.

He explained that when the gallery was first built on St Kilda Rd in the late 1960s, the guiding was started as a women’s initiative right through until the 1990s, making his induction as a guide a breakthrough.  

“I started guiding in 2000 and by that stage I’d realised that the guides were all women because it had started off as a women’s club so it was difficult for the women to understand,” he said.

“There was a training program of about 18 months and I’d have to admit that the training was actually harder than when I did my fine arts degree at university.”

“Having to get out on the floor and having to know what you were doing was very hard. In any one-year between the two galleries now there would be 30 exhibitions over 12 months from very small to huge so it was pretty full on.”

David continued guiding up until the age of 70 and to this day remains the only male member of the Alumni in its 47 years.

Since then he has continued to play an active role in the community, having been a former member of the Southbank Residents Group as well as a highly valued former delivery man of the Southbank Local News for well over two years.  

“I really enjoyed doing the deliveries, they were really good times,” he said.

“The big plus about it was that the routine was terrific because I’d ring ahead to all the building managers every time and almost every time there was at least a chat or two with the building managers and they were so diverse.”

Having been first been described as “crazy” by family and friends for moving to Southbank more than 20 years ago, David said he and Wendy continue to look back on their decision without a single regret.

Today, he still manages to go for a regular walk around the area and is as proud of his community as ever.

“The focus has really been on enjoying the surroundings and seeing it all change so much,” he said.

“I’m doing less walking now I’m no longer as fit as I once was but as long as I’ve been living here I’d do a daily walk and explore new areas and that keeps you in touch with everything that’s going on.”

“It’s such a wonderful place. We could never move now everything just fits in for us so well. Even though this place is small, it’s ideal now because you don’t need much space.”

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