Champion cyclist an involved resident
Back in October 1930, 14-year-old cyclist Bren Prunster won the longest road race of the Geraldton Wheelers’ Club season, finishing the ride from Geraldton to Walkaway and back in two hours and three minutes.
The October 9, 1930, edition of The Geraldton Guardian and Express reported crowds of about 200 gathered at Walkaway to witness what was a huge event at the time.
“Several of the riders picked up punctures from sharp stones and spoilt their chances,” the story reads.
“Prunster, who was on 12 minutes, rode a well-judged race, winning from J. Hamalatta (nine minutes), and D. Sterrett (three minutes).”
This early achievement was just one of many the young man would accomplish in his life. Mr Prunster was born in Geraldton on November 25, 1915, and lived there until his death on September 11, 1996.
In 1940 he married Theresa and the couple went on to have three sons and a daughter. Mrs Prunster recently passed away.
According to son Tony, who has been researching his family history, at the age of about 18 Bren Prunster helped rescue a three-year-old girl from drowning at a beach in Geraldton’s West End.
“When Dad passed away she sent my mother a sympathy card saying Bren Prunster saved my life many years ago and I’m very sorry he’s passed,” said Tony Prunster.
“A couple of years after he rescued the girl, a bloke got into difficulties out at Back Beach and nearly drowned. He swam out and saved him too.”
In 1939, Mr Prunster bought a grocery shop on the corner of Marine Terrace and Evan Street (later renamed Cunningham Street), where the Toyota dealership stands today.
Tony said his father ran the shop for many years — with the exception of two years’ service in World War II — until the big-name supermarkets moved into town.
Never one to give up, Bren Prunster worked as a masseur and osteopath, using skills he developed during his many years of involvement with Railways and Brigades football clubs.
But Mr Prunster is perhaps best remembered for his long service with the Geraldton Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, where he became captain and later president.
“The fire brigade was his life, he loved it,” long-time friend and fellow volunteer firefighter Nick Geronimos said.
“We had some brilliant captains, but to me he was one of the best.
“I found him an absolute gentleman. I just respected that man from the first day I met him.”
This was a view shared by many.
In 1979 Prunster was awarded a British Empire Medal for his service to the community of Geraldton.
In 1985 he received the honorary title of Greenough Shire Citizen of the Year.
Prunster’s involvement in the community included service as a volunteer ambulance driver and stints as president of both the local Pensioners League of WA branch and the PCYC.
He was also a devoted member of the Catholic Church.
Tony Prunster said his father’s character had made a lasting impression on him.
“I did exactly what dad did. I helped people out as much as I could,” he said.
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