During winter 2010, the Midlands lost a remarkable man. Justin McCarthy was killed on his bicycle, training for an epic trip to the Himalayas in India. Cycling was a passion he shared with other Midlanders and many meetings were held, and deals struck, on the single track in the SAPPI plantations. No doubt about it, Justin did things differently.
He was often ahead of his time – profit sharing and developing skills before it became a requirement of good business, a supporter of fair trade before it became trendy and knowing the carbon footprint of his operation before everyone jumped on the green bandwagon. He understood that investing in your community was the most important thing you could do and generously supported local artists, nurtured creative talent and was a mentor to many.
Justin was instrumental in creating the ‘good place’ which the Midlands Meander is today. Groundcover was established in November of 1990 and after many years as an MMA Board member, Justin received the Butterfly Award in recognition of the enormous contribution he had made to the Association.
He believed that it was the spirit of volunteerism and collective cooperation for the common good, rather than the pursuit of personal profit and status, which had made the Meander successful, and was adamant that living an authentic life with integrity was the way to go. “It’s the slow pace of life, the clean country environment, old fashioned family values, creative and meaningful work, and the opportunity to make a difference in our communities that makes the Midlands a good place. I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else” he said.
A proud family man with a sense of adventure, he loved visiting Lesotho where he and Amanda had begun their married life together. He was particularly thrilled a couple of years ago, boasting about his wonderful kids, when they walked off with most of the prizes at the King’s Cup Snow Skiing Championships. He quipped afterwards “the old man didn’t come anywhere”. His beautiful Nguni herd provided much joy and an opportunity to keep connected to the earth, something he believed was important.
Justin has been an inspiration, a wise friend, counsel and visionary. He was never slow to share his admiration for the work of local non-profit organisations with encouragement and generous support and was very excited about the fledgling Curry’s Post Conservancy which he helped establish recently. It has been a privilege and joy to have shared part of his journey on our planet.
hamba kahle Justin, sobonana futhi.
Thank you Matthew Drew for some of the photographs.