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Swan & Sir Donald Bradman

Thumbnail Many of the fantastic members of the Crusaders have asked to write some small anecdotes about some of the great people I have met. I will start with Sir Donald Bradman

I first met Sir Donald at the Adelaide Oval when I was working at Rowe & Jarman in 1963. Barry Jarman was playing for South Australia, one day he telephoned the shop late to ask me to drop some gear off at the Oval. South Australia were batting when I arrived and so was alone in the rooms. Sir Donald came in and this was our first meeting. Les Favell was captain at this time, a great cricketer and a top man, he went on to play for Australia and also became a friend.

After this time Barry Jarman asked me to go and see Sir Donald a lot, dropping gear to his office in King William Street. He was always a great conversationalist and we spoke of many things.

I left Adelaide in 1971 to set up Gray-Nicolls in Melbourne. I always returned to Adelaide for business and to visit the stores. I always found time to visit Sir Donald at his house. I was treated very well by Sir Donald and his wife Lady Jessie. She was a beautiful person who reminded me of my grandmother.

Sir Donald was always very upbeat when I visited, we spoke of many things but most of all cricket and the greats he had played with. Lady Bradman made the most delicious fruitcake and always made one when I visited. I must say I do love fruitcake. One day when I arrived Sir Donald was in bed and Lady Bradman instructed me to go and get him out of the bed. Lady Bradman asked me if I had any contacts in golf as Sir Donald was a lover of the game and wanted to go to the Masters. I worked hard to make sure I could get him the tickets. I got some from Greg Norman's manager who was very happy to assist. Unfortunately the trip did not eventuate as Lady Jessie became unwell and couldn't travel.

Sir Donald always found time and the will to autograph bats for me with no problem.

I wrote to my great friend and Crusader patron The Hon Bob Hawke, Prime Minister at the time to ask if we could get Sir Donald on a stamp. In those days, stamps were pretty much reserved for the Queen! Parliament gave approval and that's how the Legend Series of stamps was issued. I was also working closely with the Bradman Foundation.

To finish, I saw three versions of Sir Don Bradman. The first, a super statesman, the second a super old man, nothing was too much bother, he didn't become old and grumpy. But the third was after Lady Jessie's passing and he had become sad.

I held him in very high regard as a person, not just as a super cricketer. It was a great time in my life to know an Australian icon. He was a man of honour and many things we spoke of will remain secret.

Knowing Sir Donald was one of the greatest honors of my life.
Swan Richards