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Touching tribute to an industry friend

Last week the industry was overcome with the news of the passing of a long time industry colleague and friend, Keith Wilkinson. Norm Tilling has written a touching tribute to his friend.

“I first met Keith Wilkinson and his brother not long after Tillings opened its first very modest operation in Sydney at Northmead. At that time they were also employed in a small operation owned by a Mr Lyall Cantle in I think Thornleigh.

Lyall was a real character in as much as when he was looking to put in more stock or moved into bigger premises, he wouldn’t pay his suppliers for some time to help with the finance. When I became aware of this practice, I would ring him and he would say “yeah I know Norm, I will fix it up” which of course he would. This practice stopped once Keith and his brother acquired the business.

Over the years, I learnt all too well what a brilliant businessman Keith was, apart, of course, being amongst my most loyal business friends.

There are many instances I would like to recount, over our 40 year plus relationship, but perhaps the standout was when Judy, Rob Lamb and I took 35 customers (they paid) to the West Coast of US and Canada during the good old “Oregon” days. I remember the Canadian customers questioning why Keith still had a South African passport during the apartheid era, when there was a far left-wing socialist government. My greatest memory of Keith was, during a two-day stopover in Hawaii on the way back, Keith was a little late for breakfast; as he explained he had just swum from Waikiki to Diamond Head, about seven miles each way…what an athlete!”

God bless you Keith, my good friend,

Norm Tilling