To rest is to rust : Financial Mail Wonderful Weekend

07/06/12:

In my youth I imagined that I would be a professional sportsman or a game ranger. It hasn’t turned out that way, but I don’t have any regrets about the choices I have made. I believe you have to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you and adapt if and when necessary.

Family, friends and health are the three most important aspects of my life. I have learnt that balance is so important in life, and that includes my family, with religion also being an influence. My wife and four daughters have taught me that there is no messing with the big five — they are my top priority.

Durban offers us an incredible lifestyle in our beautiful country and my perfect weekend is about spending time outdoors with my family and friends. Kirkmans and Exeter in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve are my favourite getaway destinations. We escape regularly to nature, which really refreshes us. Limited cellphone contact is allowed and this applies especially to our kids! During our time away I catch up with the most important people in my life.

It is then that I try to pass on the values of humility and respect and we try to satisfy ourselves that we are doing the very best we can in all aspects of our lives. I believe in the saying that “to rest is to rust”, which has become our family motto.

Sport is important to me and I make time to ensure that I exercise regularly as this makes for a healthy mind and a balanced lifestyle. I was a keen rugby player many years ago and I still really enjoy the game, but there comes a time when you have to admit that your body isn’t made for the knocks that you’re bound to take on the field. So I choose to support the Springboks and the Sharks from the sideline.

I am an avid cyclist and I recently participated in the Aspen Trans Karoo 240km mountain bike challenge to raise funds for paediatric health care in SA. I was honoured to have the health minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, at the starting line alongside me. This was a demonstration of his support for public-private partnerships to establish and enhance local paediatric hospitals. The ride took 16 hours. It was exhausting but at R40000/ km I dared not stop!

A number of local and offshore businesses were approached to help me raise funds for the Nelson Mandela Fund and the KwaZulu Natal Children’s Hospitals and we’ve already passed the R10m mark. But more needs to be done. So this is a challenge to large corporates to follow the minister’s example and to embrace the need for quality paediatric health care and to make a difference for the children through the trust that has been established for this cause.

When we started Aspen in 1997 it was intended to be a small company without manufacture, but it has grown to where it has now been ranked as the best-performing JSE blue chip stock over the past six months. This is great for team morale and proves that Aspen’s hard work is paying off.

I am at a point in my life where I feel I still have a big contribution to make. Some day I would like to be remembered by my family and friends for being a good father, husband and friend.

Professionally, I’d like to leave a mark as someone who made a meaningful difference to health care on the continent — in particular if our efforts result in a positive impact for my country and the African region in combating HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. A vaccine discovery for these diseases would be first prize.

SA has so much potential and the best advice I could share with our youth is to harness that potential to its fullest. If you combine that mind-set with a sound education and an entrepreneurial spirit, you will have a good start in life.