Tony Benneworth's great nephew Archer Close has written and illustrated a new book to commemorate his uncle one year on from a boating incident that claimed Tony's life.
His mother Adele helped him to put the information in order and the book marks Tony's family life, work life and interests.
The last page reads: "I have watched my family be sad, and I have seen a lot of my family cry, and this has made me realise how important it is to be safe in a boat. Now all we have is memories of Uncle Tony and we wish that this had never happened. Life is special and we have to look after the people we love. You don’t realise how special someone is, until they are gone. Be safe in boats and remember to love your family endlessly."
Here is a extract from the book 'Our Uncle Tony':
Linda Benneworth is a small, vibrant woman – full of memories of “her Tony”.
Tony Benneworth was a beloved figure in Northern Tasmania and statewide, remembered and revered for his cricketing feats with the then fledgling state team.
“A life well lived. And I know Tony lived his life well. I can talk about it now, a year on,” Linda said.
Tony and his friend Anthony “Tony” Long died in a boating accident on March 10, 2018, at Anson’s Bay. The third friend, Guy McGibbon survived. Linda continues to catch up with Guy regularly.
“They would go to Anson’s Bay to go fishing on long weekends. My Tony and Guy were Ulysses members, they all had motorbikes. Tony had a really healthy respect for the sea. He didn’t take it for granted.”
Ahead lies a coronial inquest into the men’s deaths.
“I know that Tony had a life jacket on,” Linda said. “But he was a big fellow with broad shoulders and on a previous occasion he couldn’t fit into the jacket available and so borrowed a friend’s jacket. He borrowed the same one on this trip. I suspect Tony didn’t know how to operate the jacket.
“Before they went out fishing the fellows had lunch and a couple of beers and sat yarning together. There was no alcohol on the boat. My Tony very rarely came home with a fish and so he stopped calling them fishing trips … they became camping trips.
“That’s the most shocking thing. People go out for a social day, on the boat fishing, a relaxing trip, telling yarns … and they don’t come home.”
Linda said McGibbon took 45 minutes to get to shore and call for help.
“While they were in the water together, Tony told Guy that he was in trouble. He said: ‘I’m in strife mate, I’m in strife.’ But I know my Tony wouldn’t have given up easily, that he gave it a red-hot go.”
Linda and Tony met at the Launceston Cup in 1983.
“I couldn’t tell you what won the race – but I like to think that Tony won that day," she said.
Originally from Liverpool, Linda immigrated to Adelaide and then Tasmania in 1975. She worked for Innkeepers in Launceston before going to work with Medibank and then Medicare for 36 years.
Mr Benneworth played in Tasmania's inaugural Sheffield Shield team in 1977–78. He was the first Tasmanian to take five wickets in an innings in a Sheffield Shield match, when he took 5-115, as well as making 54 and 42, against South Australia in February 1978. He was also a member of the legendary Tasmanian team which won the Gillette Cup in 1979, with Jack Simmons as captain and a young David Boon. Benneworth took 3-14 in that match.
Linda attended the 40th anniversary of that match on behalf of her husband, where she caught up with Boon, home from his ICC referee duties, and Simmons, who made the trip from England.
“When Tassie won the Shield for the first time, he was like: ‘That’s a monkey off our backs.’ Because every year until that time they would talk about the Gillette Cup.
“When we first met, I thought: ‘who is this man?’ Because when we’d walk down the street everyone would wave at him. They thought they knew him and they’d stop him and talk to him.
“It was how he lived his life. It was like as though he belonged to everybody. People would come to him for help and even if he didn’t know the answer, he would know someone who did. He just helped people.”
Post-cricket, Benneworth was heavily involved in the Riverside Cricket Club and for many decades with the Trevallyn Bowls Club.
He went into politics, and was elected as a Liberal member for Bass from 1992 to 1998 in the Tasmanian House of Assembly.
Linda’s message to all people who go boating is similarly simple.
“You can’t take the sea for granted. Make sure that you have a life jacket that it has been serviced. Make sure you know how to use it.”