Legends of the Nepean: Alan Syd Campbell (9/6/1947 – 19/4/2024)

Alan Syd Campbell passed away on 19th April and is best remembered for his 40-year RAAF career at Richmond Air Force base, his life as a teacher at TAFE and his twin passions of surfing and photography.

Born in Manly in 1947, Alan later moved with his family to Mayfield, Newcastle, during the 1950s.

After leaving school, Alan completed an apprenticeship through Tighes Hill TAFE, working for ‘Truscotts’ making metal tankers. In 1963/64, he started work at the State Dockyards and whilst at the dockyards, he formed friendships with a group of fellow apprentices, who introduced him to the art of surfing.

Service Medals.   Photos: Supplied by Katy Pastoors.

In 1968/69, Alan moved into the Lewis House Hostel, where he met a new friend who was interested in photography, so surfing and photography would become his twin lifetime passions.

Daughter Katy Pastoors said “Maybe the opportunity to take photos of the beautiful bikini clad beach babes also fuelled that passion, as his boxes of photos can attest.”

Whilst working at the State Dockyards, Alan met Merve Cowling, who became a lifelong friend. Merve had joined the Civilian Air Force – Squadron 22 and Alan also joined two years after Merve, in 1968, and would serve in 22 Squadron at Richmond Airbase for 40 years. He began his career in the Service repairing planes and eventually became a trainer, retiring as a Flight Sergeant.

In 1968, Alan met Bronwyn Davidson, who was attending Newcastle Teachers College, and the couple were married in 1970. When they first married, they lived in a small flat in Iron Street, Parramatta and whilst in Parramatta, Alan became a keen member of the local Photographic Club and won a number of competitions.

In 1975, Alan and Bronwyn moved to Emu Heights and Alan joined the Penrith Camera Club in 2007, where he enjoyed a number of successes in club competitions. He became a committee member in 2010 and also served as President in 2014 and 2015.

In 1977, their son Joshua was born, and in that same year, Alan applied to teach his trade at TAFE. Their daughter Katy was born two years later in 1979.

Alan completed his Diploma of Teaching in 1986 (Technical and Adult Teaching Education) and in 1989, he completed the Bachelor of Education (Technical and Adult Teaching Education).

Alan subsequently taught at both Mt Druitt and Miller TAFE colleges, retiring as a Senior Head Teacher.

Whilst at Mt Druitt TAFE, Alan and his students built a metal raft, providing an opportunity for the students to use their skills in a creative way. This raft was raced by teachers and students, in charity races, to raise money for the Stadium of the Disabled, which was located next door to the TAFE. These races raised $40,000 for the stadium. The student apprentices also worked on the construction of the stadium, and these work projects provided approximately $60,000 worth of unpaid work to the stadium.

Alan and Bronwyn Campbell.

After retirement, Alan continued his passion for photography, collecting cutaway pictures of aeroplanes (totalling over 4,000). He researched the history of 22 Squadron and contributed information and many photos to a book published about the history of the Squadron. He also worked as a volunteer with the junior Air Cadets at Camden and volunteered at the Aviation
Museum at Bankstown, up until its demise.

Alan later joined the Nepean Men’s Shed, becoming part of a new group of wonderful friends who, along with his many other friends, were a wonderful support to him through his illness.

Alan Syd Campbell  was nominated as a Legend of the Nepean by Luciano Vranich.
If you know a local legend, send us a nomination at nepeannews@aol.com