At NSW Police Legacy, our volunteers are absolutely crucial to the work we do. This month we profile 87-year-old Bathurst resident George Gaal.
“I woke up and I’m still alive, so I’m happy.” George Gaal has one of the best outlooks on life I’ve ever encountered. And why not? He’s lived a life enviably full of family, friends, and adventure, and, at 88-years-old this August, is only just now wrapping up his volunteer work for Police Legacy.
Born in Hungary, his family fled the tumult of WW2, moving around Europe for several years before emigrating to Australia. Arriving by boat “on the second last day of 1949” (the kind of precise detail that fills his conversation), the family were first settled in a migrant camp in Bathurst. After settling in, George was sent to Sydney to work in a factory, and then out west to work on the Menindee to Broken Hill pipeline. He worked as a labourer until, as he dryly puts it, his “other skills were recognised” and he moved into admin, helping to look after the 100 men from 37 different countries that were his workmates.
It was after he got naturalised that he joined the police force. I ask him if it was something he’d always wanted to do. “My grandfather was in the police,” he says, “And I’ve always liked a bit of adventure.” After training he was sent to work in Burwood, then had postings at Liverpool, Fairfield, and Merrylands.
In 1970 his father died, leaving his mother living alone in Bathurst, something George didn’t feel right about. By this time he had moved up the ranks to Detective. A role for Detective Sergeant came up in Bathurst; he applied and got the role, returning to live in the first place he’d settled in Australia.
In 1974 he was asked to move back to Sydney, but by then, with a wife and family settled into their Bathurst home, he decided he’d had enough of moving around. He resigned from the force. He’s been based in Bathurst ever since, working in many different positions, and is now retired. He does lots of reading, lots of socialising, lots of eating out. “I’m being kept busy,” he says happily. “It keeps your brain alive, it’s true.”
As an organisation that depends on our volunteers to function, we are pleased to report that we have kept George very busy over the years, and we thank him most sincerely for his service.