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Family holidays

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My holidays are over and I have returned to work. This year, I am not suffering from jet lag as I did not leave our shores. Instead of our usual European vacation, my wife (Bev) and I hosted five of our six adult children and all seven of our grandchildren here in Sydney.

To be more specific, we escaped to the country and spent almost a week together in the Hunter Valley. We rented a lovely home which gave us the run of a private and peaceful 54-acre estate surrounded by orchards and vineyards. A local mob of kangaroos were regular visitors. 

Our family retreat was wonderful and enabled us to create lots of memories. We ate, we swam, we walked, we golfed and, of course, we explored a winery or two. We also visited some local tourist attractions including the Hunter Valley Zoo, the Hunter Valley Gardens and the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company.

However, the most adventurous outdoor event was experienced only by Bev and me - a hot air balloon ride - compliments of our children. We boarded our champagne breakfast “flight” at sunrise and then took in the scenery as we soared gently over the Hunter Valley’s picturesque patchwork landscape.

Without doubt, the most joyous part of the family getaway was having all seven grandchildren in the one place at the one time - a family first! As our children are geographically scattered (as far away as London and São Paulo), some of our Aussie grandchildren had never met their Pommy cousin.

Our daughter has now returned to London with her family and - except for our weekly skype chats - we will not see them again until Bev and I return to London next August. Yes, parting is such sweet sorrow as we look forward to our next family reunion, including a visit to one of our sons who lives in Brazil.

Meantime, we must again be conscious - as a large and blended family - of the need for all of us to stay close while living apart. The tyranny of distance presents a challenge to all families where forced separation - due to a lack of same-city proximity - is a daily reality.

In our mobile society, an increasing number of families grapple with bridging the miles for long distance relationships. Family members may not be physically present to the people they love for a range of reasons including working overseas, studying interstate or living remotely.

Each family needs to figure out what works best for them in staying connected. Many families - mine included - use a combination of social media, phone calls and family functions to maintain meaningful relationships.

In my experience, the trick is to set a regular time to skype/viber/phone and then stick to it. Once you work out the different time zones and the best time to call, it becomes a routine which keeps the family functioning and helps sustain strong bonds in each other’s lives.

Now that I’m back at work, I’m pleased to report that everything is shipshape. It’s been smooth sailing at Gateway in my absence and for that I thank my colleagues: Lexi Airey (Chief Customer Officer), Peter Gilmore (Chief Financial Officer) and Gerald Nicholls (Chief Risk Officer). It’s always comforting to know that each year I leave Gateway in such capable hands.

My thanks must also go to our three guest bloggers - Catherine Hallinan, Steven Carritt and Robyn FitzRoy. Each blogger displayed their erudition and all are to be congratulated for successfully completing their maiden voyages as bloggers. I enjoyed reading their posts while on holidays and hope that you did too. 


Paul J. Thomas, CEO


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CEO Paul Thomas