Plumtree School - Old Prunitians

Submitted by John Holland (Milner 1963-1968)

John Sothern (Binks) Holland (July 3,1914 to June 24,1999)

For some curious reason, Plumtree and Binks Holland (Milner 1926-1930) had a lifelong affection for each other. Very strange at first glance, because Binks had a normal schoolboy time at Plumtree, having attended all his classes (several reports on good "conduct"), and active on the sports field( 2nd XI cricket ,and 2nd XV rugby).

The only drama during his time at Plumtree was in 1926, his first year ,when his appendix burst. He was taken by ox cart to the station and then the infamous milk train to Bulawayo Hospital. By the time he got there he was critical, and (this is his story) he had the whole school praying for him on three consecutive Sundays, including Tim Howman (Lloyd) and Benjie Williams (Gaul) et al, on their knees. Being a Milner man, his whole life this was hugely significant ! One of his greatest joys always was attending Sports Weekends during his sons', (John and Keith), school days at Plumtree.

He recovered, but at 16 during the depression his dad wrote to him to advise that he was pulling him out of school for financial reasons, as his sister and brother would not be afforded schooling if he continued. So what was the secret for this lifelong loyalty to Plumtree ? Simple. It produced some of the finest , greatest men of integrity, strength of character, humour you could wish to meet, and who did so much in building a wonderfully civilised spot in Africa. Binks made friends for life at Plumtree and afterwards all OP's had a special place in his heart, with Milner boys in front ! He claimed he was the first Umtali boy to go to Plumtree, which was the furthest place you could go to school from Umtali without needing a passport !

Having left school, he started his working life with Vacuum Oil at 10 pounds a month, travelling the country and opening up Nyasaland. He spent many good years with Vacuum, and at the outbreak of war in 1939 he volunteered , thereafter to be transferred to the civvie list because of duodenal ulcer.

He joined his dad's business in 1944 in Umtali, and this was the start of a new chapter in his life of great fun, and terrific support for farmers and friends until the end. He built up a great auctioneering business on his character, integrity and extraordinary wit, and many attended his sales because they were such fun. Those that stayed on after the sales sometimes took two days to get home!

Binks Holland was an anonymous philanthropist, and only after his death in 1999 did his generosity become evident with special kindness having been quietly given to those in need from the broadest spectrum of people. His used his special auctioning and people skills to raise funds for not only Plumtree, but many other causes too. For the record, Binks was a prominent businessman and was a director of J.S. Holland, CABS, CIMAS, and a trustee of Wild Life conservation.

He was actively involved in sport as a young man and was secretary of the cricket section of Salisbury Sports Club when they originally built the clubhouse. Binks became a member of Makoni sports, Melsetter Sports, Mutare Sports, Hillside Sports, and he was a Founder member of the Casuals Cricket Club in Umtali. Binks was also a member of the MCC and was made life member of Kenya Kongonis after a Stragglers' Cricket Tour there in the 1950's. Binks was President of Manicaland Show Society, founder and President of Rotary in Mutare, Chairman and subsequently life member of the Umtali Club. During his lifetime he was deputy Sheriff of Umtali for 24 years (following his father's 30 years).

He was a proud son of Plumtree.

Binks passed away in Mutare a week short of his 85th birthday in 1999.

P.S. Judy Taylor, Binks' daughter adds, in response to why he was nicknamed Binks : His godmother, for some reason best known to herself, called him Billy Binks as a baby, and the Binks part stuck (Fortunately not Billy Binks !)

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