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Coordinator (acting)

Tom Roche - Just Forests Founder and Coordinator

Tom Roche - Founder and coordinator of the day-to-day running of Just Forests (voluntary).

My name is Tom Roche. I was born in Chapel Street, Tullamore, Co Offaly, Ireland. As a young boy I served an apprenticeship as a carpenter in a small family-run workshop in Market Square, Tullamore. It was a fascinating time for me. The workshop provided me with opportunities to engage with a very wide-ranging set of interrelated aspects of woodwork from cart and wheel making to joinery and furniture repairs. Also, during that era it was common practice to replace handles in shovels, forks and so on, rather that discard them.

The harvest time was a particularly busy time in the workshop as farmers needed ‘grass boards’ for their mowing machines and ‘connecting rods’ for their combine harvesters.

While working for Barney O’Connor was a great learning time for me, I was unknowingly preparing for an adventure that has shaped my life ever since. I was always attracted to ‘far away places’. So after failing the Royal Air Force (RAF) entrance exam in Belfast I applied for a visa to travel to Australia. During the sixties the Australian government were looking for tradesmen-carpenters, plasterers, plumbers and so on. In 1967, just one month after my eighteenth birthday I landed in Melbourne, Australia – a recipient of the Australian government’s ‘Assisted Passage Scheme’ for the sum of 10 pounds.

It was during my time as a ’rouseabout’ on a medium-sized sheep station in Sunday Creek, Broadford, Victoria, that my environmental education began. Each Saturday night 3 of us would have to share the same bath water. The last person out of the bath would pour the water into a bucket with a jug and then pour all the used bath water around the tree around the house.
Fuelwood was also very precious as it was our only source of energy for cooking and heating. We spent a number of hours every week collecting and splitting logs for fuelwood. My experiences have all shaped the way I look at natural resources today.

In October 2010 the EU adopted new legislation placing responsibility on all EU Member States to ensure they have 'due diligence' procedures in place to make sure they do not trade in illegally logged timber and wood-based products. But in order for this legislation to work we need to ensure that every adult and child in Ireland learns the importance of and appreciates the value of natural resources. Forests, fresh water, air and food are the essentials of life - we must learn to respect them.

I hope you will find a project on our website that helps you to 'Get Involved' in our work of securing an adequate supply of timber and wood-based products for everyone on this fascinating planet from 'responsibly-managed' forests while at the same time contributing to fair trade and poverty alleviation.

Biodiversity and our survival:

2011 saw the start of the UN Decade on Biodiversity and good forest management, coupled with  responsible timber sourcing are central to its success. There is much to be done to make illegal logging history so I hope you will find our work important enough to support us. Your SMALL CHANGE can help us make BIG CHANGE-thank you.

***More on Tom's background:

 

Voluntary experience:

Founder member of the LEO Club of Coburg, Melbourne, Australia - 1967-70

Member Vincent de Paul, Tullamore Branch - 1970-80's

Concern Worldwide

Big Brother- Big Sister, Tullamore Branch - 2009

Employment:

Tom also worked for well-known Tullamore furniture maker and restorer, Billy Dann before establishing his own business in 1974-1990 in 'The Tanyard', Tullamore.

He was also comissioned by the then National Training Authority (ANCO/FAS) to host a number of very talented furniture makers under the 'Talented Young Entrants Scheme'. The purpose of the scheme was to afford young and talanted students a 'real life workshop experience'. His students included Niall O'Flynn of Fermoy, Co Cork and Knut Klimmek of Dublin.

See ...How storytelling can open up the moral dimensions of business decisions

Passport to Australia 1967
application/pdf1st passport.pdf (2.29 MB)
Passport to Australia 1967
application/pdf1st passport 2.pdf (2.16 MB)
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Irish Woodworkers for Africa Ltd. T/A Just Forests
Rathcobican, Rhode, Offaly, Ireland
Phone: +353 (0)86 8049389  |  E-mail: info@justforests.org
Company Registration Number: 279353  Irish Charity No: CHY 10686 Copyright © 2017 Irish Woodworkers for Africa Ltd. T/A Just Forests