David and Mandy Courtney have built themselves a great business reputation as local jewellers. They share their varied life and absorbing second passion.
> How long have you lived in Armidale?
We both moved here from Sydney at a young age, Mandy was 5 years old, and I was 10 years old.
> Tell us about your family?
We were married at St. Mary and Josephs Cathedral in October 1981 by Bishop Henry Kennedy – a privilege, as Bishop Kennedy, we believe, had only married a few couples in this ministerial position. We have two children, Lauren (20) who is in Newcastle studying Industrial Design and Technology, and Jared (17) is in the process of completing his Higher School Certificate and is keen for an apprenticeship in the building trade.
> How did you become involved in the jewellery industry?
My mum and dad – David’s (Norma and Bill Courtney) and his aunty and uncle (Marie and Greg Halpin) purchased an existing jewellery business from the Sourry Brothers in January 1970. Norma and Bill Courtney bought out Halpins share in the business 2 years later and continued on in the Beardy Street premises.
My father passed away in 1980, and Mandy joined the business after we were married in 1981 and the business moved to Dangar Street. Mum retired in 1990 and Mandy and I continued on.
So I guess when you look back we have been in the industry for a long time now. The people we have met through our work and the local support from them has been fantastic, and as you look around we are proud to be a family business – something that is depleting these days.
> How did you become involved with the Rural Fire Service?
When we moved out of town, after living 6 years under David’s mum and dads’ house in a very small granny flat, to our present home 12 km from town, there were two small Bush Fire Brigades in our area. We went to a couple of meetings at our closest brigade, but soon after these two brigades amalgamated with the larger Herbert Park Brigade where a shed (station) was built and a tanker housed.
We became active members of the Herbert Park Brigade 11 years ago, completing numerous courses over the years. The Rural Fire Service for a volunteer organisation is a very professional outfit now compared to when we went to our first meeting. David is currently Senior Deputy Captain. Since joining the Rural Fire Service, the people we have met in the service and neighbours that you help in a crisis are very rewarding.
> Describe life on the farm?
We built our home 20 years ago and have enjoyed the tranquility ever since. We ran crossbred sheep on the farm when we first moved out there and then moved into buying and selling steers –which is a lot less labour intensive.
Having a small farm is a great unwind from the everyday work that we have been doing together for 27 years. Mandy is a very keen gardener with both flowers and vegetables, and I am the labourer for the gardens and the farm maintenance, but I really enjoy the tractor work.
I might say that we don’t like daylight saving, as we are morning people and much prefer to complete a few jobs before work, not after work, as dinner is now very late.
> You are both keen motorcyclists?
Yes, we have been into motorcycles since we met. One of the pictorial shots shows the little mini bike that I rode when I was 15 years old. Mandy and I met when I was riding this bike on a vacant block of land next to my Mum and Dads’ house in Erskine Street. A friend I was with knew Mandy and introduced us, and that’s when our relationship started.
This bike was my first bike, which I still have. And as my friends know, I don’t get rid of anything – everything ends up in the SHED! When I got my motorcycle license I purchased a Honda 750 FOUR, and we travelled all over the place – trips to Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney. A favourite ride of ours was down the Putty Rd, to watch the now finished Castrol 6 hour motorcycle races at Amaroo Park, Sydney.
As this was a standard production bike race, it created much interest in the general run of the mill bike riders. We did this for many years; they were very enjoyable times.
A not so favourite ride was when we travelled to Tasmania in 1980; the mistake was we did it in June – not recommended, as we froze! But you do these things when you are young. The 750 is retired after 24 years to the SHED. We now have more modern cruiser motorcycles that handle well and stop so much better.
> Are you members of a group or club?
Not with our road bikes, though we have several husband and wife riders as well as a few mates we ride with. We are actively involved with Armidale Motorcycle Club. Lauren and Jared at the age of 9 and 7 started motocross racing, and we travelled around to Inverell, Moree, Glen Innes, Goondiwindi, and many coastal clubs, so our weekends were always busy.
Jared still is racing in Enduros, so we are still travelling, as we are his pit crew.
> Do you enjoy other hobbies?
We love going to the coast and putting up a tent at North Beach, as we are very keen water-skiers. We have been doing this for 25 years – it’s a great family sport. Mandy, Lauren and Jared also play hockey.
> What are your plans for the future?
Well, we haven’t actually thought about the future, as with work, farming, motorcycles and hobbies, life has been very full on. We wish to continue in the jewellery business for many years to come. We enjoy our work and have terrific staff, which makes working a pleasure.
If anything in the future, we would like to travel to the red centre and the top end of Australia with the tent, and spend more time motorcycling – chasing those winding roads.
> Thank you David and Mandy.