Skip to main content

Tag: Clients in Action

South African Masters Swimming

Inspired by fun, friendship and fitness

by Sandy Murray, Chartered client.

Swimming is a great way to keep mentally and physically fit. Many of us, however, need considerable motivation to take the plunge – so to speak.

South African Masters Swimming is a fraternity of aqua enthusiasts who enjoy keeping fit and setting their sights on maintaining or shaving seconds off their previous personal best times. The year’s highlight is the Masters National Championships, which brings together swimmers across South Africa and beyond for a 4-day gala. The excitement of the 379 swimmers – aged 20 to over 90 – is invigorating; everyone is decked out in their club colours, greeting their comrades and competitors, and eyeing the 50m pool with apprehension – or eagerness to clinch bronze, silver, or gold medals.

I met Marion Hollander at Chartered, and we both swim for the largest team, Wahoo Masters. Our section of the stand is generally the most festive, with a swathe of 120 purple t-shirts, banners, silly hats, and other festive paraphernalia.

The 2024 Masters Nationals was a first for Marion: “This was the first time I swam in a gala since primary school – let alone a Nationals Masters Gala! It was terrifying, and I was completely out of my comfort zone. However, I managed to swim in all my races and even got a bronze medal for coming third in one of them. It ended up being a fantastic experience. I met many people, including Sandy, whom I recognised from Chartered Wealth! What a wonderful four days!”

I have swum with Masters for many years, inspired by my teammates who, well into their senior years, continue to relish their sport and strive to break South African records. Our oldest swimmer, Patrick Galvin, a 91-year-old Australian, holds breaststroke world records in his age group and South African Colours. Hosting our American team members added a bonus social dimension to the event for my family. Each member of my relay team earned a silver medal, a proud memento of the event.

Marion and I, fuelled by the fun, friendship, and fitness of Masters Swimming, are ready to set the bar of our achievements even higher for the 2025 40th Masters National Championships.

Finding Purpose on the Beach: My Life-Changing Journey with SMART

My journey with SMART (Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team) began after our retirement and move to Mossel Bay. This non-profit, established in 2015, rescues stranded marine mammals and turtles. Our role is to respond quickly to animals on beaches, prioritising their well-being.

While Cape Fur Seals basking on rocks is normal, pups washed ashore during storms need our help. When pup strandings are reported, the SMART teams immediately respond so that the pups can be picked up and taken to a place of safety. We reunite them with their island home as soon as possible. Sadly, three sick Sub Antarctic Seal Pups we found resting last year didn’t survive.

Similarly, dolphins, whales, and turtles on beaches are unnatural occurrences requiring our immediate response. For live animals, we keep them safe, educate onlookers, and ensure they aren’t touched or fed. Resting animals don’t need water or covering! Injured animals are evaluated by a vet for possible treatment. SMART even supports global research by collecting data from stranded or deceased animals.

We believe ocean education starts young. SMART educates children through school visits with Sammy, our entertaining turtle mascot. Dressing up as Sammy also provides us with many giggles trying to get in and out of the costume!

Joining SMART fulfilled the “give back” section of my Bucket Wheel® and has enriched my life beyond measure. It has given me a renewed sense of purpose, and the best part is that I get to learn, play, and work in the most incredible office ever – the beach!

Riding into a New Life: From Jozi to George

Dreaming of escaping the Johannesburg hustle for open roads and scenic vistas, Chartered clients Huida and Granville set out on a motorcycle trip with a twist: Granville had a secret agenda – to scout potential semigration destinations. Little did they know, George would capture their hearts with its charm, natural beauty, and a hidden gem of a house waiting to be discovered.

Their initial odyssey wound through towns like Prince Albert and Tulbagh, each offering unique flavours of life. While Port Owen’s remoteness didn’t resonate, Gordons Bay, a place they loved, didn’t offer any houses that suited them. Montagu’s historical allure tempted them, but having a Woolworths within a 5km radius remained a dealbreaker for Huida.

Reaching George, they met up with friends who had already made the leap, and their glowing experiences about George ignited a spark. The town’s clean, friendly atmosphere left a positive impression. But the true magic unfolded on a breathtaking motorbike ride up Outeniqua Pass. Lush valleys, ancient forests, and panoramic vistas unfolded with each turn, sealing their desire for a change.

Back in Johannesburg, the “what if?” echoed. Inspired by a vision of their ideal home and a couple they met on their travels encouraging a “just do it!” attitude, they took on the challenge. The search for their perfect George haven began.

Despite initial hiccups – a damp property and limited options – they persevered. A serendipitous discovery led them to a magnificent house in Welgelegen Estate, ticking all the boxes, even the motorbike-friendly location.

With an accepted offer and their Johannesburg house sold, their semigration dream materialised. Moving in November 2022, the timing was perfect. Today, nestled in their haven, they’ve embraced the George lifestyle, made new friends, and explored the Garden Route’s wonders.

Their journey is a testament to open hearts, serendipity, and the courage to take a leap of faith, proving that sometimes, the best destinations are discovered on two wheels and with an open mind.

Transforming Zoo Lake One Clean-Up at a Time

Zoo Lake, a cherished oasis in Johannesburg, owes its origin to banker and mining magnate Herman Eckstein. In the late 19th century, Eckstein envisioned a lush city oasis, initially naming it Sachsenwald after Otto von Bismarck’s estate. After his death, his partners donated land to the Johannesburg City Council in 1904, leading to the creation of Herman Eckstein Park and a zoo. In 1906, an artificial lake, aptly named Zoo Lake, was added, becoming its centrepiece. The Coronation Fountain was added in 1937 to honour King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and remains a famous landmark of Johannesburg.

Over the years, Zoo Lake has evolved into a vibrant hub for community gatherings, sporting events, and cultural celebrations. Its sprawling lawns provide ample space for picnics. In recent years, Zoo Lake has faced the challenge of litter, a common issue in many public spaces.

Stuart Norman, a Chartered client, has lived in Parkview for 17 years. Like many residents, his busy life prevented him from doing more than just using the park for recreational walks and bike rides.

One day recently, while walking around Zoo Lake, Stuart was struck by the amount of litter everywhere. Stuart had an idea and was determined to make a difference. He had been so impressed by the cleanliness of Rwanda on a recent trip, and he was convinced that if Rwanda could be cleaned up after its turbulent history, surely Zoo Lake could be cleaned up too.

Stuart’s initiative took flight when he reached out to a residents’ group, inquiring about the availability of a skip for an upcoming clean-up effort he had planned. The response was overwhelmingly positive, prompting him to establish a dedicated WhatsApp group exclusively for residents eager to rejuvenate Zoo Lake. Stuart then forged a partnership with the Zoo Lake Users Committee, setting the wheels in motion for their inaugural clean-up event.

The event was a success, with 13 paid staff and four volunteers participating. They filled 155 bags of rubbish, waste and glass. The second clean-up was even larger and more successful, collecting 210 bags of litter. It’s important to note that these clean-ups are not focused solely on picking up the litter left behind, as the council already employs staff for this purpose. Rather, the emphasis lies on revitalising the general area, the lawns and the lake itself. To clean the lake, volunteers are equipped with pool nets, allowing them to retrieve discarded bottles and plastic from the water.

Stuart has managed to raise R19,000 in donations to date, and local businesses have stepped in to help. The money raised is used to provide lunch and refreshments for staff and volunteers, buy equipment needed and pay the staff hired to help with the clean-up. Several of the individuals employed to clean the lake reside in nearby shelters and appreciate an extra day of work and pay.

Stuart is committed to making Zoo Lake a clean and beautiful place for everyone to enjoy. He believes that the key to sustainability is to have a long-term strategy. Stuart’s vision extends to involving all the suburbs around Zoo Lake, mirroring the successful approach that transformed Central Park into the beloved destination it is today. You can’t help feeling inspired by Stuart’s story as it really proves that change begins with you and that you need to be the change you want to see in the world.

If you would like to know more about the project or get involved, you can contact Stuart on 0825572706

From Priest to Painter – Gill’s journey

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Chartered client and former priest, Gill Bowman, discovered a new purpose in art. She had always been passionate about art, even studying it after matric, but her faith and community work took precedence. When she was put on disability leave due to her diagnosis, she realised it was time to rekindle her passion for art.

During a life planning session at Chartered, Gill realised how much she wanted to get back into art. She started doing mandalas and found the process both meditative and healing, describing it as getting the thoughts in her head out onto paper. During lockdown, Gill took online courses from the Learn to Paint Academy and the ETCHR Studio, as well as motivational courses from Jessica Serran.

Gill primarily works with acrylics, occasionally dabbling in watercolours. She soon began selling her art and displaying it at local galleries, spending up to six hours a day in her studio creating her paintings. In December this year, Gill will exhibit her work at “Art on the Veranda” in Bushman’s River. She has also been invited to showcase her art at the prestigious Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2024.

Gill has turned her art into a new side hustle and also finds it beneficial in managing Parkinson’s symptoms. She says that painting helps to calm her hands and body, as well as her overall anxiety.

Roy, her husband, has been a great supporter of her journey in the world of art. He helps with the framing and other tasks, and she fondly refers to him as her assistant.

When asked about her new purpose in life, Gill said that she had two choices when her purpose as a priest was taken away by Parkinson’s; she realised she could either choose the tomb and see this as the end of her life – or choose the womb, an opportunity to start a new one. Her choice is obvious.

Gill’s story is an inspiration to us all. It shows that we can always find new purpose and meaning in life, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges.

To see Gill’s art, you can follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Ubuntu in Action – The inspiring legacy of the Donaldson Trust

Mandela Month, celebrated annually in July, is a special time dedicated to honouring the extraordinary legacy of Nelson Mandela. This month serves as a global call to action, encouraging people from all walks of life to embrace the spirit of ubuntu – the philosophy of compassion, empathy, and unity. It is a time for individuals and communities to engage in acts of kindness, service, and social upliftment.

Chartered client Benjy Donaldson is the epitome of someone who embraces the spirit of ubuntu. He actively manages the Donaldson Trust, founded in 1936 by his grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel James Donaldson. Benjy has been involved with the Trust for over 50 years. The Donaldson Trust is the oldest private trust fund dedicated to improving black social development in South Africa. Colonel Donaldson’s profound concern for the rights of black South Africans was ignited in 1935 when he witnessed draft legislation that aimed to strip them of their voting rights in the Cape. He took action by financing the All-African Congress leaders’ trip to Cape Town to lobby MPs and rally public support, successfully thwarting the passage of the bill.

Throughout its history, the Donaldson Trust has relentlessly addressed the profound inequalities in South African society. It has played a vital role in constructing essential infrastructure such as hospitals, dams, schools, and universities, including the renowned Donaldson Wing at Fort Hare University and the iconic Donaldson Orlando Community Centre (DOCC) in Soweto. The DOCC holds significant historical value, having witnessed Nelson Mandela’s boxing journey and Miriam Makeba’s first-ever performance.

The Trust’s dedication to uplifting the disadvantaged encompasses a wide array of projects, spanning education, youth initiatives, HIV/AIDS-related programs, agricultural support, mental health, disability initiatives, and hospices. According to Benjy, the Trust focuses on seed money projects, not ongoing funding. Operating on a pro bono basis, the trustees meet quarterly at the Priory of St John in Westcliff, Johannesburg, to allocate funds solely towards empowerment and upliftment. For Benjy and the trustees, it’s not just about giving funds but understanding the challenges many face and fostering genuine change.

Benjy is very humble about the impact the Trust has made on the lives of South Africans over the years. Yet, the legacy created by his family serves as a reminder that each of us has the power to make a difference, no matter how small our actions may seem.

Unleash Your Creativity and Boost Your Mental Health with Neurographic Art

Are you searching for a new way to boost your mental health and express yourself? Consider giving neurographic art a try. The technique was developed by Russian artist and psychologist Pavel Piskarev in the early 2010s as a way to help people express themselves and overcome creative blocks. Today, neurographic art is popular around the world as a simple and accessible way to engage in a mindful and enjoyable activity that can benefit mental and emotional health.

Some of Gill van Rooyen’s Neurographic Art

Neurographic art is an excellent way to reignite your creativity. As we age, our creativity can fade, but this art form offers a chance to discover a new outlet for self-expression. Neurographic art is accessible to all, regardless of artistic skills, and has no rules or guidelines for what your design should resemble.

To begin your neurographic art, start by gathering the necessary materials: a pen or marker and a piece of paper. You may also choose to have additional colouring supplies such as coloured pencils, markers, or paint on hand.

Next, find a quiet and comfortable place where you can focus on your drawing. Choose a starting point, such as a dot or a small shape, and begin to draw continuous lines and shapes that flow spontaneously. Allow your pen to move freely, without lifting it from the paper, and see where the lines take you.

As you draw, try to focus on the present moment and allow yourself to be in a meditative state. Pay attention to the sensations you feel in your hand and body as you create your design. You may find it helpful to take deep breaths and allow yourself to relax into the process.

Repeat the pattern until you feel that the piece is complete. You can add colour if you like, using markers, coloured pencils, or paint. Remember that there are no rules or expectations for what your pattern should look like, so allow yourself to be playful and creative.

Don’t be concerned about your artistic ability or the final outcome of your design – the process is what counts. So why not give neurographic art a try and see how it can benefit you?

Client Story Gill Van Rooyen

The Healing Power of Neurographic Art

Last year, Chartered clients received a retirement tip from us about neurographic art and the many benefits it can offer. One of our clients, Gill van Rooyen, who had always been interested in art, was intrigued by the concept and decided to give it a try. Since then, she hasn’t looked back.

Gill has no formal art training but enjoys oil painting and acrylics. What she found most appealing about neurographic art was the combination of art and mindfulness. Gill can sit for hours and let her creativity flow, which helps her find clarity and peace of mind. She is guided by her energy, which allows her to create beautiful art that is unique to her.

Gill shared her newfound passion with a friend whose brother was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. It became a healing practice for both her friend and her brother. They spent many hours in the hospital doing neurographic art, which proved to be a therapeutic and helpful activity. It helped Gill’s friend deal with her grief, and her late brother’s artworks were framed and cherished.

For Gill, neurographic art is more intuitive than colouring in. She did a lot of research, including looking on Pinterest and YouTube for inspiration and techniques. The practice of neurographic art allows her to be in the moment, focusing on the lines and shapes she creates. It’s a meditative process that allows her to express herself freely and without judgment.

Here are some links that Gill suggests to help you get started:

https://betterhumans.pub/how-i-use-neurographic-art-to-meditate-aab05663b771

Garden Route Slackpacking Adventure Trip

By Louis Marcus Finn

Having undergone a double knee replacement in 2021, my husband Stephen and I decided to relish his remarkable and wonderful rehabilitation and cash in on this golden period of our lives together.

I did some research and found a fantastic option on the Garden Route. Mark Dixon, an outdoor enthusiast with a magnificent protean knowledge of ecology, biological science and nature conservation led our hike. We were joined by a UK couple in their early sixties, enjoying an outdoor adventure in South Africa. Mark organizes trips and highlights the incredibly rich fossils on our coastline, the indigenous trees, geology, insects, marine life and avian specimens. We learnt such a great deal about a myriad of impressive elephant, crocodile, buffalo and hominoid footprints found on the coastline ranging from Wilderness to Brenton-on-Sea. Touching and beholding these 120 000-year-old remnants was indeed a huge privilege.

We covered about 60 kms by foot, nearly all on pristine beaches and traversed the Garden Route and Goukamma National Parks, sleeping in private and Cape Nature reserve accommodation.

The route also encompasses 15 kms of kayaking on the Touws and Goukamma rivers. Much fun and many enjoyable experiences were had, and at one stage, our kayak capsized, and Stephen, Mark and I fell in the temperate river. We laughed our way back to the bank and continued canoeing in high spirits seeing a magnificent Fish Eagle soaring overhead and then roosting on the banks of the river. Being outdoors, enjoying perfect weather and seeing unspoilt conservation coastline was a huge inspiration, physical experience and treat for both Stephen and me.

Garden Route Coastal Meander can be reached at gardenroutetrail.co.za or followed on Instagram. It is well worth the effort if you would like to expand your physical and intellectual horizons.

Winemaking in your Backyard

Written by Errol Allcock

Like many wine lovers, my interest in all things wine began while as a student at university and studying microbiology was an added catalyst. I joined a wine club which assisted me in gaining exposure to a more diverse range of wines. As time progressed, I soon realized how little I knew and signed up for the wine courses offered by the KWV and, later on, by the Cape Wine Academy. These were wonderful learning opportunities and a great place to meet new friends, especially on the practical courses. Holiday destinations were carefully chosen in wine regions both locally and internationally.

As our combined knowledge and confidence grew, we started visiting key wine regions in France, Italy and Spain … these will always remain as highlights of our travels. Visiting and tasting wines at these Holy Grails of world wines was very special. On one of these trips, I met Graham De Villiers, the new owner of Mont Rochelle Vineyards in Franschhoek. He sensed my interest in wine, and by invitation, I spent three harvests working in the Mont Rochelle cellar doing odd jobs but learning all the time as well as making lifetime friends.

We were fortunate to have a wine cellar at home which provided more than a place to store wine, it was often somewhere to entertain friends and, of course, solve the problems of the world. Wine cellars are interesting places where one can develop a special relationship with the wine styles that you prefer.

We undertook a major renovation of our home in Somerset West in 2016, and it was then that the idea of developing a micro vineyard on the property was conceived. We had roughly ¼ of an acre to develop, and this was large enough to plant 110 vines which, by my calculation, could yield sufficient grapes to make a standard barrel of wine. The vineyard development took just over two years and included a soil analysis and preparation, water availability, trellising design and cultivar selection. Our “stokkies” were planted in September 2018, and then the work of training the vines began. We decided on a Shiraz scion grafted onto a robust 101-14 root stock. Each year the vines became stronger as they developed, and we had our first full harvest last year (2022). Following nine months in oak, this vintage was bottled in late January 2023. I am very pleased with the final product which shows typical varietal characteristics, a good colour and soft tannins. No resting for now though; the 2023 harvest will be ready for picking at the end of February. Thanks to my family and friends for their continued support and encouragement.

Phinda, pangolins and a once-in-a-lifetime experience

Barbara and Andrew McGregor’s recent visit to Phinda private game reserve was a Bucket Wheel® item for them. With so many interesting and varied sightings, it was an experience that didn’t disappoint.

Phinda is in northern KZN, situated between the Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park. Covering an area of 170 km², it features seven distinct ecosystems, resulting in an unusually rich diversity of fauna and flora, including many species endemic to the Phinda area.

Having not been to Phinda before, endemic sightings were “lifers” for the McGregors. They included a “flutter” of Black Swordtail butterflies having fun in a pool of muddy water on the road, Tonga red squirrel, Bell’s hinged tortoise, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Pink-throated Twinspot, along with several trees and bushes.

Other highlights included a close encounter with a herd of elephants (in a vehicle that refused to start) and excellent cheetah, rhino, and leopard sightings. However, all these were outdone by a fabulous encounter with a pangolin.

Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are unique mammals found in various parts of the world, including South Africa. They are known for their distinctive scales, which cover their entire body. These scales are made of keratin, the same material that makes up human hair and nails. They are known for their keen sense of smell, which they use to locate ants and termites, their primary food source.

They are nocturnal creatures and spend most of the day in burrows or termite mounds. This sighting in broad daylight was, therefore, extra special. They watched it for over an hour as it moved along the side of the road, seemingly oblivious to their presence and very engaged in sniffing out dinner.

There are two species of pangolin in South Africa, both of which are endangered due mainly to illegal hunting for their meat and scales. Pangolin scales are highly valued in traditional medicine and are used to treat a variety of ailments. Their meat is also considered a delicacy. Pangolins are a sought-after commodity on the illicit wildlife market.

Barbara and Andrew’s visit to Phinda was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They were able to see some of the most elusive and endangered species in their natural habitat, all while enjoying the luxury and beauty of the reserve. They left with a reinforced appreciation of the incredible biodiversity of South Africa’s natural heritage.