When you get to know Richard you quickly realise that he is an accomplished person who has engaged in a wide range of interests and activities. He enjoyed a long career as a professional engineer, having graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) degree, from Canterbury University in 1969. He worked initially for the Nelson Harbour Board, and then joined Mike Worseldine’s consulting engineering practice, soon becoming a partner. The practice grew, becoming Cameron Gibson and Wells Ltd by the time of his retirement. He was made a Fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers in 1998, recognising his contribution to the profession in the top of the south. Now known as CGW, the practice has become a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, with offices in several cities.
“My first design job at the Harbour Board was the design of Kingsford Quay, a new wharf for the log trade. Once completed, I was invited to join the harbour master on the bridge as the first logging ship was berthed. From that height my wharf looked to be made of cardboard and matchsticks, and I was very relieved when the fendering system worked perfectly, and the ship was safely tied up. 50 years on the wharf is still going strong.”
Richard joined Rotary in 1989, when he was invited by his partner Mike Worseldine.
“I wanted to meet more people from outside my usual sphere, and become more involved with the community. Rotary has certainly contributed strongly to that and the work life balance I was seeking.”
In addition to his participation in Rotary, he has served on the Nelson Diocesan Trust Board, as a committee member of the Nelson Amateur Swimming Club and The Nelson Ski Club, and on the Nelson School of Music Trust Board. Richard is also a keen violinist, having started learning the instrument at the age of six. He has been a committee member, chairman for many years, and remains Leader of the Nelson Symphony Orchestra, which he describes as a regional orchestra that would be the envy of most regional centres.
His passion for music, and long association with the School of Music resulted in him joining the fundraising team to allow completion of the recent upgrading of the school and it’s facilities, and it’s rebranding as The Nelson Centre of Musical Arts. (NCMA)
He remains an active skier, and says his passion for this sport grew from joining the Mt. Robert Ski Club in the 1960’s.
“We used to climb up Mt. Robert for summer work parties, and winter ski weekends, and especially the school holiday “ski weeks”. These were great family holidays where lifelong friendships were formed, that were available at a fraction of the cost now charged at commercial fields”
From that time he became involved in ski racing, and today is a member of the St. Arnaud Ski Racing Foundation, an organisation set up to encourage ski training and racing particularly among school age children. He still participates in Masters race events himself.
The day we met to discuss this story, he had just completed a 70km bike ride and was heading to his office where he retains an interest in his family’s development company.