Gary and Sharon Parsons during his time in Council
By Sheree Hoddinett
Gary Parsons is well known for his humour, hitting the ground running and for serving as a councillor for 14 years. These days life has taken on a slightly slower pace for Gary, or at least he’s trying anyway, as he and wife Sharon fully embrace retired life and make the most of their family time combined with their pet project Bribie Island District Community Appeal (BIDCA).
Prior to leaving council, he retired and didn’t contest his seat at the 2016 election, Gary and Sharon formed BIDCA. It’s still going strong all these years later, supporting many facets of the community.
“It’s a really good group to be a part of,” Gary said. “The third Sunday of every month we run our markets in Brennan Park. All our monies, goods and chattels cover our overheads such as registration, insurances, public liability those sorts of things and everything else after that goes back to the community. Sharon and I were both Rotarians and the reason we do the markets. It was a Rotary type thing, the Rotary spirit, the Rotary way and we’ve taken that over into BIDCA. Sharon puts her TLC into everything and she’s built that rapport with people. We’re not a handout but we are the no more gaps. It’s about helping those who just need an extra hand. Whether it’s a kid going to school camp or an elderly lady scrubbing her clothes because her washing machine broke, that’s what we’re about.”
Serving the division one (encompassing Bribie Island, Donnybrook, Sandstone Point, Toorbul and parts of Beachmere, Caboolture, Elimbah and Ningi) community for 14 years is still very much a memorable part of Gary and Sharon’s lives.
“Do I miss council? Yeah, I sort of do miss it,” Gary said. “When I first retired, I did miss council for quite a while because it was get up, go out, do this, go there. You’d rack up sometimes 200-250km a day in the car shooting from Bribie, across to Caboolture, down to Strathpine and across to see somebody at Donnybrook/Toorbul and then back to Bribie. I miss that interaction but we still touch base with a lot of people.”
Gary speaks highly of Brooke Savige who became the division one councillor after he retired.
“I don’t think I’ve ever deliberately gone out of my way to hurt anyone and I did what I could while I was in that role,” he said. “I would always say to people ‘at this point in time, this is how it is’, but things change, you can’t always please everyone. Brooke, well she’s ticking the boxes and she’s doing what she can do while she’s in there.”
With 16 grandkids in the mix and BIDCA keeping them busy, you would imagine life would get a little hectic at times but Gary admits, they are both very much ‘enjoying life’.
“Sharon’s still very much the boss of me, telling me to slow down as well because I’m 73 at Christmas and I’m still hypo,” he said laughing. “We’ve got our grandkids and we love them all. We have the younger ones coming to visit regularly. Plus, there’s our two poodles, Bro and Pippa. Bro he’s 13 going on one, he’s just a really happy poodle and Pippa is 19 in November. I joke that Pippa’s been ‘shovel ready’ a few times. She must hear it and she comes back to life bouncing around like a puppy again.”
You know you must have done something right when there’s even a park named after you. As always, Gary isn’t one to take the full credit, instead praising the most important person in his life for keeping him grounded and reminding him of the important things in life.
“At first I said do you guys know something that I don’t?” Gary said laughing. “Because we usually only name parks after dead guys. I’m absolutely honoured. They worded in a way that it wasn’t just about Gary, because for Gary to run around Australia and still have the world’s longest run record, Sharon was there. It wouldn’t have happened without her there. Sharon has always been my right arm. She’s always there to catch me. It’s a marriage of love, it’s mateship, it’s just everything.”
If he had his time over again, Gary admits he would do it all exactly the same way. The BIDCA markets are held on the third Sunday of every month at the Bongaree Jetty.