by Richard Chalmers (Life Member)
On behalf of The Tunks Descendants Association I would like to offer our condolences to Dudley’s Family for the loss of a wonderful man, full of enthusiasm and love not only for his immediate family but also his friends as well.
After my Mother passed away, my father Len Chalmers (Dudley’s First Cousin) became a volunteer worker at the Fellowship of First Fleeter offices in Margaret Street and found that a number of other volunteers were also descendants of the same First Fleeter, Marine William Tunks, who arrived on the Sirius in 1788. It was this group who then decided to officially form an Association as an off-shoot of the Fellowship and convened a Meeting in 1980 with Dudley included as one of the inaugural Committee Members.
Dudley contributed enormously to the fledgling association, holding numerous Committee Roles over the years and continuing to support the Association by attending many family gatherings and Annual General Meetings, and was rewarded with Life Membership for his ongoing commitment and dedication.
Two years ago, we lost our Patron, Peter Christian, who was also a Founding Life Member, and when seeking a replacement for Peter I thought of no one more appropriate than Dudley, who after all bore the surname TUNKS. Dudley thought about it for some time but declined saying “firstly, I’m too old and secondly, I think you should be able to find someone else who has a higher profile, like Dick Smith, who would be more appropriate”. That was the humility of the man!!
Earlier this year (2020) we anticipated holding a fancy 40th Anniversary Lunch and invited him to be our Guest and Guest Speaker for the occasion. He at first declined again but then agreed provided the Lunch was scheduled for a date later than 6th May. When I asked him for the reason he told me he would like to drive himself there but would be unable to do so until after that date. On quizzing him further he told me he had lost his license for a traffic misdemeanour. I said “a traffic demeanour??” he said “Yes, I went for a spin to Young to collect some cherries for me, the family and some friends and was booked for speeding on the way back”. I said “what speed were you doing at the time?” He replied “well, the copper let me off a little but he booked me at 150 kph”. I said “What!! You should be ashamed” to which he responded “I am, but I had 13 boxes of cherries on the back seat and didn’t want them to spoil, so was in a bit of a hurry!”
As we all know, Dudley was a keen driver and loved to get out into the country for a good long drive a couple of times each year. Last year, he not only drove to Young but also to Bega on the far South Coast and thought nothing of it even at aged 96.
Unfortunately, our Anniversary Lunch had to be put on hold because of the Virus but that didn’t deter Dudley from regularly calling to see if we had rescheduled, as he had already prepared his speech which we are currently trying to decipher as his handwriting was very shaky and almost illegible in parts. I’m sure it would have been a wonderful rendition of his memories of the early days of the Tunks Association had he been there to deliver it.
Farewell Dear Cousin. Rest in Peace!
(Richard represented the association at Dudley’s funeral and spoke on our behalf.)