- On Wednesday we had a family service at the crematorium. This was taken by our aunt
Christine, who just happened to be visiting Jo and Henry last weekend. She has been an
incredible support to us during this week.
- Today, we are determined, with your help, to celebrate the life of our Dad, Henry.
- Henry asked that we do not have a eulogy of any sort at his memorial service. However, there
are people here from all parts of Henry’s life, many of whom have travelled long journeys to
be with us. And few people have knowledge of the 85 years of this unique man we call Dad,
Grandpa and Henry.
- So for this reason we have decided, in true Henry Hyde fashion, to ignore this advice.
- What we have put together is from our own reflections and from the many many messages of
condolence we have had from people right across the world. His standout characteristics
were many but there are a few that everyone seems to agree on – his huge sense of
adventure, his generosity, his loyalty are just a start.
- Henry was born on 14th Feb 1934 the eldest son of Rose and Ted. Ted had left Ireland aged 20
for the new world of South Africa with its abundant open space and, of course, the diamond
fields. Henry’s positivity and sense of adventure were clearly in his genes.
- Henry’s early years were spent on a farm in Schweizer Reineke, the remotest of remote places
in the north western part of South Africa. His father Ted was a pig and arable farmer with a
little diamond prospecting done on the side. Henry’s first friends were the African boys on the
farm. His mother insisted that they moved to Natal when she realised his first language was
- Henry’s main school years were at Michaelhouse a place where he was happy and where he
lived school life to the full, playing all sports including rugby, cricket, hockey and swimming.
He tried tennis but was a little too impatient for that.
- He went to Natal University to study Engineering. He told me, after I had passed my first
year Engineering, that he learnt how to party in his first year, perfected that in his second
year and then his father said enough of that.
- Where upon he left and set off on his first life adventure to Canada in 1957 where he drove
earth movers. He then went to England where in 1958 he famously met Jo whilst lying
across the stairs of a boarding house they were both in, waiting for their communal
bathroom to become free. She asked him to move and in his characteristic lack of style
insisted that if she wanted to pass she would need to step over him. Clearly she did, and
they married in 1960 in Melbourne, Australia.
- After marrying they spent a wet and cold winter in Melbourne and then set off for their first
life adventure to live in Estcourt, a small town in the Drakensberg mountains of South
Africa. This was not an easy decision for Mum. However, her bravery and resilience is
legendary and that continues to this day.
- Edward was born in 1961, I in 1962, Peter in 1965 and the twins in 1967. Sadly Peter
lived for just a few days.
- To Henry, I was known as Bear, Edward as Teddy-kins, Charles as Charlie-boy and
Elizabeth, only ever as Diddy, which endures to this day.
- As well as being a father, Henry spent these years building the business he bought from his
father. It included a book shop, a local newspaper and later on various business ventures
with his younger brothers Pat and Michael – to whom he was very close throughout his life
- Henry liked to do things his own creative way. For example, he was told by the local council to
get on and use a prime vacant plot of land that he owned in the middle of town so he created
an enormous vegetable garden which fed us and the families of his many staff for years.
Clearly, that was not quite what the council had in mind!
- He even found time for a different sort of adventure in the form of motor rally racing with
his friend Geoff Mortimer. It always amused us that he was the navigator, which was never
his strongest skill.
- However, his real passion was introducing adventure to others. In 1968 he became very
involved in Veld and Vlei, a voluntary organisation that offered outward bound adventure
camps to 16-18 year olds. Over 20 years these courses touched thousands of lives. And
introduced many people to racial integration, at a time when apartheid was in full force
and a good 20 years before the end of that regime. Alan and Cedric, both here today, were
very involved throughout the Veld and Vlei years and have remained life-long friends to Jo
- Veld and Vlei was an organisation that relied on the generosity of the volunteers. There was
no limit to Henry’s generosity for Veld and Vlei – both in terms of time and money. Henry did
everything. If a new toilet block was needed, he became a plumber, if a power generator
broke he was an electrician and he was living proof of the fact that swallowing petrol whilst
syphoning is not harmful.
- Henry’s own self-belief extended to his belief in those around him and to us. I was thrown the
job of chief caterer for a camp of 120 hungry boys, Edward was given the task of camp Warden
and Elizabeth and Charles were told to run the sailing and rock climbing activities – all of these
before we were 21.
- The hikes in the Drakensberg mountains were a key feature of this time, each one more
adventurous than the last. Although they happened at various moments in the year the Easter
hike was always the main one. Mum you might want to shut your ears – we all have fond
memories of being fed snakebite mutti, a mix of coffee and Brandy, high in a cave overlooking
a beautiful scene after a long day’s walk
- When away from Veld and Vlei Henry was happiest stirring his potjie on the open fire beneath
the tree at home at 13 Brokensha Road.
- Henry and Jo created a home that brought a huge variety of people into our lives. This ranged
from people he might have picked up on the motorway, chosen on the basis of the quality of
the rucksack they carried, or drop-ins at the shop who only came in for a good read and were
offered a bed for the night. Sometimes they stayed months, usually gainfully employed on a
DIY project. Painting the house yellow was particularly memorable. They usually also worked
at Veld and Vlei. At their heart they were all adventurers with broad life experience, this gave
us a unique view of the world from an isolated South Africa.
- Along with these were others who lived with us as part of the family including many Rotary
Exchange students. In addition, Louise, Charmaine and Fred stayed for years and all to this
day, along with many others, regard Henry and Jo as second parents.
- They bought a beach house in 1980 on the Natal south coast, not far from their lifelong friends
the Saxby’s. We are pleased to have Alan Saxby here today. Henry famously named the house
“Hyde Tyde” a unilateral decision after we had all agreed on a different name.
- Happy holidays and many building projects were completed at that house with brothers Pat
and Michael and their wives Glenys and Anne and the cousins, including Robert, who is here.
- In 1989 Henry and Jo moved to Australia when Henry was 55 and a whole new adventure
began. These were difficult times – Henry had to reinvented himself several times yet stayed
true to himself. For 5 years he drove a courier van from dawn to dusk where every customer
was his friend. His resilience and good humour were extraordinary and an example to us all.
- Life began to settle down. He got to know Jo’s side of the family including Chris and Ian and
their family. We are grateful to Robert Andrew and James for driving through the night to be
with us today.
- We had 9 grandchildren between the four of us and he was happiest when lying on the floor
with his grandchildren clambering over him or chatting over a meal and enjoying his family
- An enduring memory of all of the younger grandchildren is sitting on their Grandpa’s lap
amidst the chaos of young family life, snuggled around his big tummy
- Henry always found magic in everyone. At times this was sometimes challenging to us. On
reflection, this ability was one of his defining characteristics.
- Like all good fathers he advised freely, starting with “Charlie what you want to do is…” He was
a great sounding board and if you had a big new idea you would be guaranteed a viewpoint
and often an even bigger one to build on it
- Following his time as a courier he and Jo set off on their biggest adventure to date. Our hillbilly
parents criss-crossed Australia towing a caravan for 6 years stopping where and when they
wanted to, sometimes for just a day or two, sometimes for weeks. Jo possibly did more
knitting and embroidery than most hillbillies but hillbillies they were. Henry was particularly
proud of the moment crossing the Nullabor when a trucky said “nah, he’ll be right mate, he’s a
- Their volunteering didn’t stop. They got very excited at the opportunity to volunteer at the
2000 Olympics. It didn’t fuss Henry that the role he was assigned was gate attendant at the
kayaking where he was stuck in a hot and dusty field far from the action. He couldn’t have
been prouder of the uniform they were given including a rather fine hat that he wore for many years
- They settled in Toronto in 2006, carefully chosen as the spot they loved the most of all of their
travels and the communities they had visited. It was a great joy for us that you welcomed
them and have cared for them as you have.
- He found his tribe here – this was a place where he could share his passions such as his
insatiable curiosity for the world and what makes it work. He was a prolific reader of The
Economist, newspapers, novels and history. Sadly his eye sight curtailed his reading in the last
few years but The Economist still got a thorough going over on his iPad each week
- As far as Henry was concerned watching sport was a participatory activity. We were never sure
who he was supporting especially when Australia and South Africa played against one another.
One thing was certain, the referee was always terrible, or he was cheating or, more often than
not, both at the same time.
- He loved and hated new technology in equal measure but was always keen to embrace some
new gadget. We dreaded the phone calls asking for remote support and are grateful that in
the last few years his grandson Ben has patiently provided on-call IT support whenever
Grandpa needed it
- He was involved in many groups and activities including this Church and was well known for
his onion slicing for sausage sizzles
- He has been the main carer for Jo during her period of ill-health in the last 2 years, ably
supported by a large and loving group of local friends, something for which we are also very
- His love for Jo was obvious to all who knew them. He never stopped telling her and us how
much he loved her and how proud he was of her.
- The legacy Henry has left us is extraordinary in so many respects, some more surprising than
others. One has been a rubbish bin full of fermenting chicken droppings – which we have had
to deal with this week. If you have enjoyed his prize tomatoes you have been the beneficiary
of it’s magic. And if we smell a bit odd today, that will explain it.
- So how to summarise the man we call our father, husband, grandfather, uncle and friend? We
could think of no better way than to read something sent to us by a dear friend, Iain Kelman,
which he wrote upon hearing of Henry’s passing.
handsoniafricacom Uncategorized Leave a comment 8 MinutesEdit”Hyde family tributes at Henry’s funeral by his children”
We salute Jo and Henry Hyde
It would be very fair to say that the Jo and Henry Hyde were legends. They threw their very all into Veld and Vlei, Greystone. I managed to track down their four children who are scattered around the globe: Edward Curry-Hyde, Catherine Curry-Hyde, Charles Curry-Hyde and Elizabeth Curry-Hyde and was thrilled when the emails eventually started flowing. Read some of their interesting memories.
The core people poured enormous amounts of time energy (and cash) into V&V, but it didn’t thrive or survive.I remember the meetings at home in Estcourt, where budgets were a constant problem. All of the vehicles for example were ‘contributed’ either people like the Tanner-Tremaines, Eddie Peen (I think) and Henry. They really believed in what they were doing. They were also all very determined people who didn’t like being told anything and Alan Webster held all this together.
I am sure you know how hard it is to explain to people (… and my children, despite me banging on about it), how unusual mixed-race courses and indeed the whole of apartheid was. I keep saying that we need to remember that it is possible to condition a whole nation into thinking that most inhuman things (Modern day Russia…?). It was doubly strange thing living through it, as we were in such a distorted society. I remember somebody saying that V&V was the first time he’d ever been told what to do by a person with a coloured skin! How V&V managed to curtail lifetimes of conditioning into apartheid thinking for each of those three weeks, I do not know. I guess that they all believed in change and would be call liberal humanists now. In his newspaper, The Estcourt Gazette, Henry wrote some pretty risky stuff. The the local council prevented use of the town pool by Indian children and Henry wrote in his editorial that perhaps they were scared the water would turn brown. He got a visit from the local enforcer Meneer Barnard, who said that that was not funny or acceptable!
Henry took over a small news agency business in Estcourt on his mother’s insistence, midway through his degree in accounting (and drinking). My understanding is that prior to V&V Henry had spent quite a bit of time at the golf club and V&V gave him a focus. As a child I remember that he would go out there after work several times a week throughout the year for a 2-3 hours to manage it. Orbed the gardener was there permanently and Henry modified the ride-on mover to suit his injured foot. Isaac the cook was in fact Zulu royalty, as I remember taking him home north of Ladysmith several times with Henry, and I saw his large kraal and witnessed the huge welcome from his wives and children. I took Thandi Buthelezi (princess) to my matric dance at Michaelhouse and she knew him. Jo, Henry, Catherine, Lizzie and (to less extent) I got to know him and he was a man of enormous dignity and quiet power. As he got older he would sit beside the Aga and run the ship. I remember that he bought the washing ladies with him from home – I guess that some might have been wives.
This reminds me of another rather mad aspect of Henry – he didn’t see things like age and experience as an impediment. At 16 or 17 ish he put Catherine and then Liz in charge of catering for a course with 80-90 people! Ed led a course at about 20 and I taught sailing and rock climbing at 17 singlehanded, to happy campers my age! This applied to pretty much everyone there. Can you imagine the Health and Safety exec’s response to that today! But they didn’t kill anyone during that time. Sadly there was an accident a few years after we left, which led to questions about what they were doing. There were plenty of near misses though, some of which I saw. Did it leave scars? A few, but it also made us all very resilient.
One of the big motivations for Henry and Jo was that V&V brought a constant stream of really amazing people to our home. Estcourt was insular, yet we had eccentric, passionate people from all over the world dropping in, staying, sometimes for weeks and that made our lives really rich. The middle room of our house was a kind of expedition staging post with CB radios, and kit, and piles of things coming and going.
After Henry left South Africa for Australia things changed for him. He drove a courier van for many years and worked until he could draw a pension. He and Jo then caravanned around Aus and lived very simply. He always had mad schemes on the go. Chicken manure maturing in a vat, bits of woodwork projects and so on. We spoke at his funeral, and read our tributes to a rather stunned group of church goers! Someone said to me that it was a little unusual to laugh at a funeral. We started writing it with the usual sad stuff and then said, hang on a minute Henry was a very funny man (in many senses) and we needed to talk about that.
Henry was always very wistful about V&V. He wrote a history of our family and I don’t think said very much about it. His departure from SA in 1989/90 was difficult. His accountant at the time explained to me that the family business had run out of cash, in part due to the funds and time that had been diverted to V&V, but also poor property development decisions, in the midst of very high inflation, caused by apartheid. Henry funded a vegetable patch to make the courses more self-sufficient in front of the Greystone house, for example, and fenced it (with an 8 foot Eland-proof fence). Henry didn’t do things by half! I remember some people on the committee being rather unhappy that this was just done without the committee’s.approval. The reality of this change in our family finances was stark for me and my siblings. We lived a comfortable life with what Henry described as a money tree in the back yard! That all changed and looking back, if it hadn’t we might have not all have struck out on our own, as we did.
I think about Henry a great deal. He never appeared to be sad or knocked down by anything, even the big change to his now Australian life. I wish he had been given more credit for what he did. In the UK, he and others would have received medals or even knighthoods for their efforts, visits from HM and all that would have helped the organisation to keep going. I remember that they approached Outward Bound UK, who chose not associate with V&V due to sanctions, even though it was an agency for change. V&V could almost certainly have raised cash in the UK now, 2023. But there we are. My father was a truly amazing man – a prince. We have had to rethink “why we do things” after his death.
You have certainly prodded and poked the memory bank!
I remember going to Veld and Vlei with Henry and Jo all my childhood, and spent most holidays involved in some way.
I was V&V caterer with Bev Field in for 1978/1979 once and then I remember being thrown into it alone (1979/1980) when either Bev or the caterer lined up was not able to come or got sick. I would have been 15/16. I think Jo had returned to Australia during one of those times to see her family. Jo took on the catering role for many V&V courses when we were younger. We would all be packed up at the beginning of the holidays and moved out to Greystone for the course duration. The old house was cold but had the roaring fire in the living room keeping everyone warm during the winter courses. I remember packing hike rations in the main house back kitchen with piles of “dog biscuits”.
Henry was instrumental in the infrastructure of V&V, much of which is still standing today. The trainees went from sleeping in tents on the terraces to rondavels which were built in approximately 1976. I also remember the construction of the dining hall and kitchen. That was an extension of the old bluestone building that housed the quarter master’s store. I can still smell the manky smell of that room! The power generator gave him endless hours of grief! (to use his words). I remember the silence at night when the generator was turned off.
I learnt to drive when I was about 15, on the road from the Estcourt municipality boundary to Greystone. In those days one did not need to hold a license on rural roads, only if you were driving in town. Henry used to come up the drive way at home at 5.15 every night and I used to head to V&V with him. He drove a little Renault bakkie with the umbrella gear stick.
I reflect back now on my mother’s resilience living in South Africa. She came from a very sheltered upbringing in Australia and pretty much everything she did with my father was out of her comfort zone. I am very grateful for the upbringing we had and the exposure we had to so many things, and like Charles said, the endless flow of people in our home staying for extended periods of time was extraordinary and enriched all of our lives. Henry and Jo were incredibly generous people, from always having enough dinner for a crowd, to there always being beer in the fridge for anyone dropping in.
I have just read through the blog and had a fabulous journey down memory lane. Cedric Amoils had told me about your blog so it was wonderful to see it and read through the memories and photographs.
I did return to V&V when my uncle Mike died, am guessing in 2008 or 2009. It was then a Christian camp, I think it is now a children’s camp for school parties as well as wedding venue. I noticed with joy that the old rondavels and the rather ugly dining hall are still very much still in use. I remember well the building of those, particularly the rondavels. And the uneven floor in the dining room – Henry was not much of a level floor kind of person. Things were very much made “good enough” – and I can see my mother’s eyes rolling! There were always large puddles on that floor when the rains came, as I suspect the roof wasn’t up to much either.
I noticed on my visit that a swimming pool had been added, along with a chapel and other buildings. The assault course looked very much the same as it used to look albeit with an electric fence around it. The views of Moor Park and Wagendrift were of course just as beautiful as ever! The house remains as lovely as it ever was. A large part of my childhood was spent in that house, I expect more time there than in our home in Estcourt! I recall every inch of it, as one does.
I will see what I can find in photos etc. And scribble some memories for you too.
Well done on getting this together. I can say with absolute certainty that Henry would be utterly delighted with this, as would Jo. Sadly Henry died in 2019 aged 85 and Jo less than a year later in 2020 aged 83.
The Hyde’s lounge on typical Sunday morning
Edward, Charles, Catherine, Elizabeth, Henry; and Dick Lavers
Henry and Jo 2014, Toronto
Henry and Jo 2018
handsoniafricacom Uncategorized Leave a comment 8 MinutesEdit”We salute Jo and Henry Hyde”
Veld and Vlei History
veldandvlei Adventure school, Estcourt KZN, Greystone, Leadership course, Veld & Vlei 1 MinuteEdit”Veld and Vlei History”
Why This Blog?
Attending a Veld and Vlei course was often a pivotal experience in a boy’s life. Most were in standard nine or matric at the time they enrolled on a course. The three-week period covered a range of physical activities ranging from an obstacle course, map reading and camping, to early morning runs, swims, sailing and a long hike in the Drakensberg. Decades later, past trainees of the Veld and Vlei Adventure School look back with fond and proud memories of their time spent there. Many returned in subsequent years as voluntary instructors or helpers, such was their loyalty and enthusiasm for the movement.
This blog aims to keep those memories alive, and it is hoped that friends from those early times will share their stories, photographs, and anecdotes with others.
Early pioneers, organisers, wardens and instructors of the Greystone courses also need to be acknowledged and thanked for their tireless and enthusiastic dedication. It would be rewarding if their stories too could be woven into this blog.
Hugh Solomon course G8 July 1970, Pete Swanepoel course G12 July 1972 and Anthony de Souza course G19 December 1975 decided we needed to get this going.
Emails are welcome to Hugh at email@example.com
bewilderbeast Adventure school, Estcourt KZN, Greystone, Leadership course, Veld & Vlei Leave a comment 1 MinuteEdit”Why This Blog?”
Course G8 – Winter 1970
Group photo above; Dick King patrol below:
bewilderbeast Adventure school, Estcourt KZN, Greystone, Leadership course, Veld & Vlei Leave a comment 1 MinuteEdit”Course G8 – Winter 1970″
Course G11 – Summer 1971
Ronnie Muhl attended Greystone in December 1971
bewilderbeast Adventure school, Estcourt KZN, Greystone, Leadership course, Veld & Vlei Leave a comment 1 MinuteEdit”Course G11 – Summer 1971″
Course G12 – Winter 1972
Above – Full group photo
Peter Swanepoel was chosen leader of Uys patrol that year, and he writes how G12 ended up differently in that a meningitis outbreak cut it short just after the start of the long high-Drakensberg hike. ‘We had already set out but were called back, told to walk SLOWLY and sent home with an envelope full of big white pills. What a bummer!’
‘We were given blue felt badges and a poor-you-ous letter, but no course-completion certificates. And rightly so, I feel: A lot can happen on a six day hike in the high Berg in winter! Here’s the letter:’
I wonder if I ever got my R3,79? Who’s running the tuckshop account these days?
More about that G12 course here for those interested.
bewilderbeast Adventure school, Estcourt KZN, Greystone, Leadership course, Veld & Vlei Leave a comment 1 MinuteEdit”Course G12 – Winter 1972″
Course G13 – Summer 1972
Hugh Solomon course G8 winter 1970 went back as a instructor on course G13 Summer 1972
Instructors and Crew G13 December 1972
Back: Lex Morton, Chris Davies, Ronnie Muhl, Shane Pinchen, Andrew Saunders, Roy Southey, Tony Clayton
Middle: Barbara Birt, Clive Packer, Bobbi Amoils, Iain Kelman, Rob Birt, June Clayton
Front: Mark Chester, Cedric Amoils, John Templeton, Hugh Solomon
bewilderbeast Adventure school, Estcourt KZN, Greystone, Leadership course, Veld & Vlei Leave a comment 1 MinuteEdit”Course G13 – Summer 1972″
Course G14 – Winter 1973
Willem Hofland attended course G14 Winter 1973
bewilderbeast Adventure school, Estcourt KZN, Greystone, Leadership course, Veld & Vlei Leave a comment 1 MinuteEdit”Course G14 – Winter 1973″