Zandvlei Trust

Una Hartley we salute you!

(Extract article from the volume 2009/3 Newsletter)

Neil Major, Una, Dianne de Villiers, Robin Burnett and Phillipe Souchon at the Arbour Day 2009 planting, Main Road Lakeside.

The colourful display of indigenous flowers and plants along Main Road opposite the Lakeside Shopping Centre is due mainly to the efforts of Una Hartley - a wise and caring woman who has a passion for the environment and all the creatures that inhabit the environment.

Una a trained nurse in her working career and she is a natural carer and giver not only to people, but animals as well. This gives one an idea of who and what she is to others in our community. She is always there, dependable, willing to help and contribute and never wanting anything in return personally. All she expects is that others should come and help as is their social responsiblity. She is a "doer" and will most often be the first to arrive and last person to leave. She is methodical and systematic and has little patience for people who dont do a proper job, whatever it may be. Do the job first time right is her motto.

She has rescued and looked after numerous species of injured birds from Hadeda Ibis, Eygptian Geese to White Eyes. In her neighbourhood people phone her to come and remove the snakes. She has rescued all types of species of frogs, cats and dogs too. All her cats and dogs have chosen her to look after them. She is also gardener, and she nurtures her garden, if you have visited, you will know. She has an interest in all the small creatures as well. Many spiders, another interest, have been removed from peoples walls so they dont get squashed or sprayed.

Una has served the Zandvlei Trust from 1990 to 2005 as a member of the Exco. She was Chairman of ZVT from 2001 - 2003. The meetings used to take place in her lounge with tea and cake always supplied. A trestle table had to be put up for the 8 - 10 Exco members in those days.

I met Una at the Wildwood Bird Sanactuary in 1988 when we used to hack invassive forsets of port jackson, rooikrans and many others in what has become the Zandvlei Nature Reserve. She is the remaining person of that group and has hacked continuously at the Reserve since then. Una used to cut down rooikrans and port jackson trees 4 - 5 metres high, with stem diameters up to 30 cm with a hand saw. I remember a January with the day temparature in the 30's, and 5 men myself included were watching her working while we sat in the shade having a rest. Guess who were the shrinking violets? For many years she provided the tea and "Herman" - friendship cake which she used to bake. Her bag had all the cups, flasks of hot water, tea, coffee, milk and the eats. No one was allowed to carry her pack, she carried it with all the tools she needed and she is still never without her trusty spade with the wooden handle and its shiny patina.

She organised the litter cleanups on Park Island in early 1990's when Park Island was a forest of alien bushes and trees. It was difficult to work then, as dense sections had to be hacked open to make a pathway to get to the waters edge. The plastic litter was 1 metre deep in layer apon layer along the shoreline of the island. We used to stand in the water knee deep pulling up the layers and scooping up all the small broken decayed pieces as best we could.

Stopping to admire the rainbow over the garden on Arbour Day 2009.

ZVT Arbour Day has not been without Una since the late 1990's. It would be interesting to know how many plants she has planted.

She started the Westlake Wetlands Walkway Garden at Main Road, Lakeside. Clifford Dorse the then Manager of Zandvlei Nature Reserve encouraged and helped Una get the garden going after he installed the wooden bollards to demarcate the boundaries of the Reserve. In December 2003, Una, Dennis Mortimer and his grandson Blake Pengelly were working on the slope across the road from the Fire Station, when Dennis disturbed a bees hive. Dennis was severely stung and was taken by ambulance with Una to Constantiaberg Hospital. Una was stung all over her shoulders and head, when she came to his aid. Una was discharged the same day but Dennis remained in hospital for a few days as his condition was serious.
We all know the difference that garden makes to the Main Road, it is there to see, thanks to her selfless dedication.

Una has always been interested in frogs. She started the public interest of the Western Leopard Toad in Lakeside. In 1998 she rescued thousands of WL toadlets at Die Oog, when they had an explosive breeding season. Herpetologists had never seen anything like that years population numbers. She made motorcar window decals highlighting the plight of the WLT. This interest spread to numerous ajoining suburbs. Una has spent many rainy, cold nights moving WLT across roads during subsequent breeding seasons. There is now a dedicated WLT Conservation Committee based at SANBI, Kirstenbosch addressing this flagship threatened species.
The name plaque on her house is Toad Hall.

She has maintained and cleaned the ZVT paper and glass recycling "igloo" site since inception in 2001. It is unbelievable how careless and thoughtless some people can be when dropping their bottles and papers off. Una takes home bag loads of others rubbish to put in her dustbin, which is left at the igloo site. There have been hand wash basins, motorcar windscreens, even a toilet bowl left at the igloos. Most people dont know or see this as the site is spotless after she has cleared up.

Recently there was a photo in the Constantia Bulletin of Una waving a red flag to slow motorists down so the baboons could cross Orpen Road safely. She happened to be walking her dog and instictively jumped in to help the lady who was trying to slow the cars down so that an accident could be prevented. This illustrates the person she is, always willing to help others.

Gavin Lawson.


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