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Plymo – Weddings, Parties, Anything

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 25 Mar 23:52 PDT
Andrew Plympton and Jessica Watson © A.J. McKinnon

What a guy. Andrew John Plympton AM may have had many nicknames, like ‘Cheese’, ‘The Admiral’, ‘Dingo’, and ‘Prez’, but there can be no doubt that it is ‘Plymo’ which best describes his disarming smile and entertaining wit. Even in his passing he is still giving all of us a chuckle. Yes. That is the measure of the man.

The list, nee book, of accolades attached to him are as endless as his enthusiastic energy was tireless. There was always a mission, yet Plymo remained ever so available whenever you called, or saw him in the street. It was like all else had been pushed aside, and you were the only item in his focus. It is little wonder then that he was found to be so endearing by so, so many people.

Some speak of him as a mentor, others as a friend, but for over 50 years John Bertrand AO was in very close contact, which ended up daily as Cancer took its toll on this most strident of individuals. Perhaps this whole friendship and notion of living life can be best summed up by the story ‘JB’ relayed to me about a two-hour trip from Melbourne to Lorne on the Southwest coast of Victoria, where Plymo was on the phone for the whole journey, laughing all the way.

Despite the frail body lying in bed, the mind was attuned to everything in the world still, and the spring was, as always, ready to pounce at a second’s notice.

So whether it is sport, administration, government, or business, Plymo did not leave touch points, for they were far more indelible than that. To me, Plymo was like an amalgam of Sir Les Patterson, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, King Hussein of Jordan, and Kofi Annan. What a Statesman, and he is definitely in the same category as Sir Les’ creator, Barry Humphries, in terms of both his stellar capabilities, and just how well he is revered across all age groups.

JB said of him, “His body of work is absolutely prolific. Obviously there is AFL, and Hockey, then the Australian Olympic Committee, Australian Sports Commission, as well as the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, longest ever serving President of Australian Sailing, and finally his commercial career as a Chairman, CEO and Director (and yes you could go on...) Yet, of course, we knew especially for Sailing, not only as a World Champion in the Etchells, but for being instrumental in turning the High-Performance sector of Australian Sailing around to what it is now, which included installing Peter Conde into the top job there.”

“This was not his first success, nor last, and certainly the fortunes of his beloved St. Kilda Football Club stand amongst the plethora of achievements that can be laid at his feet. He revelled in turning around clubs and sports in crisis, and was exceptional at it. He was always thinking outside the box, and brought in expertise from other sports to the task at hand.”

“I have not come across anybody in those 50 years who was able to cover all the areas in the ways that he did, and many of the fields did not have any crossover between them, so it is even more remarkable for that,” said JB when reflecting on his dear friend.

Reflecting on Plymo’s drive, given how motivated he is himself, JB commented, “I was always in awe of how he touched so many people. One characteristic that through loud and clear in the last 24 hours is that he was such a giver. He could look at the big picture comfortably, and take on the finer details with equal aplomb. The other element of note was his ability to cut through when communicating with others. He was unique in terms of being a head of major sporting codes, but didn't take himself too seriously. That charismatic sense of humour was definitely his hallmark.”

“He was a generally funny man, and he loved being MC whenever he could. He loved leading organisations, and he was able to get a lot done in his lifetime in both sport, and also in his business career. He can take an audience and captivate them, so they follow him precisely. It is very much like he is holding court. Just recently, we were going for a twilight sail on ‘Admiral’, so named for him, and I could not find the boat, but I know I definitely heard his voice first before I located the vessel in the marina at Sandringham Yacht Club,” added JB.

Plymo was a Commander, for sure, and very knowledgeable, all of which served him well in reinventing and repurposing organisations, which he just loved to do. “The outpouring of love and respect from everyone, both publicly, and privately from all around the country is quite unique, and thoroughly deserved. No doubt a reflection of width and breadth of his influence. I am thrilled to say he was one of my closest friends,” said JB.

Plymo was so un-PC for so long, and that just has to be one, if not the, most captivating of his qualities. Normally you would say someone will be missed at this point, but as we said at the top, with Plymo you’re giggling about tales of his marvellous mischievousness even as you write or read this. He’s not gone, just in the next room waiting for all of us to join him once more, and won’t that be a party! Speaking of which, didn’t he just love one of those, and even snuck out recently to attend a couple of very special events. Glad he did. What a truly vital man, and thank you, Plymo. For everything…

Anyone who had come in to contact with Plymo will be touched by him, and everyone’s condolences go out to Kim and her entire clan. Andrew Plympton will be remembered at a service on Wednesday April 3, 2024, at St Andrew’s in Brighton. It will also be streamed in real-time.

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