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Rod Walford

One Hour Before the Dawn
One Hour
Before the Dawn
More Details

Rod Walford - Bio

I was born in Shoreham, Sussex, England in 1950. At the age of eight, I went to the British Seamens' Boys' Home at Brixham, in South Devon, where I remained until I left school in 1966. The home, famous throughout Devon, was originally founded as a haven for orphaned sons of British sailors. In the early fifties, a decision was taken to accept boys from single parent circumstances, as there were fewer orphans needing care. Life at the home was conducted under British Royal Navy protocol, and boys were groomed for future service at sea. However, a career in the Royal Navy was by no means compulsory, and there was total freedom to follow a career of choice.

Discipline was strictly enforced, and participation in Home's drum and bugle band was mandatory. I learned to play the bugle soon after joining, and by the time I had reached the age of fifteen, I had attained the position of lead bugler. This carried the prestige of a silver bugle and shoulder sash. Some of my most abiding memories stem from visiting various Churches on Remembrance Day to play the "Last Post" and "Reveille." The band would also perform at a variety of soccer matches, fetes, carnivals and garden parties, in addition to our regular Sunday morning church parade.

At the age of eleven, I was fortunate enough to gain admission to Homelands Technical High School in nearby Torquay. English was the subject that I enjoyed the most, and I will always be grateful to have been tutored by some very dedicated teachers during my five years at Homelands.

During my years at the Home, I developed a passion for engines. The Home had two motor-boats and a diesel engine used to pump seawater to fill the swimming pool. I was involved in helping to maintain all of these. I was averse to the coarse blue serge material of the Royal Navy uniform and found it very uncomfortable to wear, particularly when wet. Thus I resolved to follow a civilian career and when I left Brixham at the age of sixteen, I trained to become a diesel engine fuel injection specialist.

I had a spell in the British Army, followed by complete break from my trade when, in 1978, I spent thirteen years in the field of water supply and treatment. I emigrated to New Zealand in 1991, once again returning to the fuel injection trade.

I have an intense dislike of all cruelty, especially to children and animals, and become dismayed by man's ever increasing inhumanity to his fellow man, as depicted daily on television news. I enjoy most sports, motorsport in particular, and my other hobbies include playing chess, listening to music and writing poetry.

I feel that poetry is a unique way of communicating with people of like-minded spirit. It is an opportunity for expression of thought and feeling within the framework of the writer's own choosing. It allows the reader freedom to empathize or criticize, in much the same way as an art lover would study an artist's canvas. In many ways, I think a poem is similar to a painting. Unlike a novel, it usually takes only minutes to read, yet the impressions conveyed can linger in the memory like a vision.

Over the years, I have learned many lessons the hard way. Through this has come a greater understanding of what are commonly referred to as old-fashioned moral values; the values of trust, loyalty, true friendship and, above all, love. I believe this to be the greatest of all emotions, and I have tried to reflect its power in much of my poetry.

Through the medium of poetry, I have made many loyal friends. Nowhere more so than in my own local writers' group. To have shared in their fellowship has been a blessing of inestimable worth. Here, I have seen a true reflection of all these values.

My favourite classic poets are Lord Byron and Rudyard Kipling. Kipling's poem "If" says it all for me. I constantly refer to it, either for inspiration or in times of hardship. Byron's mastery of language also inspires me when I am searching for a semantic illustration.

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