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Holden Retirees Club News


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Our 7th December 2017 Meeting

Unusually, President Bill Hooper delayed the opening of our 153rd December meeting until 12:40.

The reason for the delay was that we received notification at 12:28 that Holden MD Mark Bernhard was going to join us, expected to arrive a little after 13:00. His meeting which had prevented his attendance was cancelled, so we suddenly needed to add a place setting to the President’s table to accommodate him.

Bill welcomed all the 180 members present and guests, and particularly our speaker Ashley Winnett, from Holden HR Department.  Ashley kindly stepped in to the breech when Mark Bernhard was thought to be unavailable to join us.   Also welcomed was Mez Woodward, the daughter of Les Gould (Director of South Australian Operations), who has written a book about the visit of the Manufacturing Team in 1946 to prepare for the build of the 48_215 Holden car.

Bill then welcomed some new members:  

Emmanuel Vlontakis,  Engineering FB

Jim Curtis, Body Dwg Office FB

George Cassimatis, Manufacturing Engineering FB

Derrick Haupt, Data processing, Dandenong

A warm welcome was extended to these new members.

He then reported on the sad loss of some of our numbers:

Clive Huntsman, Traffic, Fishermens Bend

Margaret Cline, Finance, Fishermens Bend

George Morphett, Experimental Engineering, Fishermens Bend

Ralph Davies, Tool Room, Fishermens Bend

Rev Neville Edwards, Finance/J Car, Fishermens Bend

Our members stood for the customary one minute's silence for our departed friends.

An excellent Christmas Lunch followed, all for just $27:

  Entree -      Prawn Cocktail, prepared the MCC way

Mains   - Roast eye fillet 180g/ Dijon mustard sauce/ cream potato/ green vegetable, or

Grilled Tasmanian salmon with green peas risotto and Hollandaise sauce.


Christmas pudding and brandy sauce

Tea and Coffee

After Lunch, Bill introduced our speaker, Ashley Winnett to tell us about

“The Last Five Days of Holden”

Ashley was heavily involved in the Elizabeth closedown and gave us an emotional recounting of the final days at the Assembly plant.  His particular message was that it was A.Winnett photo 1not all gloom, tears and doom as portrayed by much of the media, but more a celebration of what the Plant and Holden had achieved over the years. There were few tears as it became almost a festive occasion  For example, on the last day, employees were entertained by Jimmy Barnes belting out Working Class man and many other of his popular songs.

As the Plant got closer to close down, they found that absenteeism disappeared and quality improved to very high levels.

The company worked closely with the various job agencies to make sure that everyone who wanted a new job would get one.  Even when they had achieved 86% of people with new employment, their view was that there was still 14% who had not yet found a position. Any employee who had found a job was allowed to take it up immediately without any penalty for leaving early.

On conclusion, Ashley turned the podium over the Mark Bernhard for a question and answer session.

A voice recording of Ashley’s presentation is available here.  Unfortunately the quality is not great but can be heard if the volume is turned up.


Mark Bernhard (Mobile)

Mark Bernhard was given a warm welcome to the club for his maiden appearance here. There has been a long tradition of the Holden MD attending the December lunch and sharing the latest information about what Holden has been doing and is going to do.  Unfortunately, since Mark took over, GM in Detroit decided to hold a meeting which clashed with our lunch, so Mark has been unable to attend.  This year it was cancelled, so we had the pleasure of Mark joining us, albeit at short notice.

Mark took many questions from the floor, and a voice recording is available here.

At the conclusion, Bill presented a bottle of wine to the presenters, and left them to determine between them, who was actually going to consume it!



Mez Woodward then came to the podium and gave us a short history of her father, Les Mez WoodwardGould, and the efforts she made to transcribe Les’ diary into modern print.  Les was sent to Detroit in 1946 as a member of the General Motors-Holden’s Australian Car Project Manufacturing Team. His brief was to study engine manufacture across manufacturing plants in the United States and Canada.

During his time in the USA, Les kept assiduously prepared journals of detailed notes, drawings and charts which are reproduced in Mez’s book in high detail with full transcriptions and accompanying historical information. Extensively researched, there are many explanatory notes which decode some of the more arcane abbreviations and technical terms encountered in the diary. A voice recording is available here.

Her book is available from the web site,


The President then drew the Lucky Door prizes, with some prizes provided by Holden for which we thank them, plus a couple of special prizes donated by Chris Shattock: a 1:18 Auto Art model of an LX SLR 5000 and a copy of the “Holden Archives Collection” book. 

Holden was kind enough to provide a new Trailblazer for member's inspection. It was parked at the foot of the steps as usual, so members could take a few minutes to look it over as they left.

Bill thanked all for attending and closed the meeting at 3:30 PM.

The next meeting will be on Thursday, 1st March 2018.

We look forward to seeing you there!


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NSW Group.

Photos from our December luncheon at the Randwick Bowling Club:








Gold Coast Group.

The December Gold Coast Retiree’s Lunch was held as usual at Carmody’s restaurant at the Sharks Club in Southport.

This was our first lunch with invitations to wives /partners and was a great gathering and we will do this again next year as a result of the feedback provided.

Rod Alford brought along some Holden historic photo,s and good to reminisce of our work colleagues of the past.

Pictured L-  R Ron Stewart,John & Jill Ashmore,Lyn Rawson,Garry Dryden,Sue Bryant,Steve Markwell,Robin Markwell,Ted Bryant,Pat Dryden,Bevan Rawson,Jan & Rod Alford.


Gold Coast group Sep 17


Thanks to Ted Bryant for the information.  For the benefit of his many friends, we advise that Ted has now relocated to the Runway Bay area in Queensland! Ted is available on 0428 123 206 if anyone from that area needs a ride to the Lunch.  All welcome!