One of the true giants of the commercial fishing industry on the Mid-North Coast has passed away.
Cecil Hyde was 75 years of age. He was airlifted last Wednesday to Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital for a routine procedure but died suddenly.
Born on the Hastings River at Settlement Point, Cec was part of the fishing culture and soon followed his father into the Hastings River Fishermen’s Co-operative Ltd.
He became its longest serving chairman.
And while the industry had in recent times changed dramatically, Cec was still the oldest commercial fisho operating in the area.
His son Paul was a fifth generation fisherman.
Wife Pam and daughter Kerrie-Ann described Cec as a big part of the community.
“We just hope he gets the recognition that he deserves,” his wife and daughter said.
Cec was just 14 when his father, Jim, contracted polio which saw the youngster taking on the role of bread winner for the family.
“He took up odd jobs around the place and also got involved in fishing. He was good friends with my brother and they became good mates,” Pam said.
“Cec did that; he’d meet you, and get on with you and you’d be friends.
“Even our respective fathers were great buddies as well. And they were both heavily involved in fishing so I suppose it was a bit of destiny that we would end up together.”
They met when Pam was 15 years of age and after a four year courtship became engaged on Cecil’s 23rd birthday in 1964. They married in the October in a ceremony in St Thomas’.
With Cec living at Settlement Point and Pam across the river at The Hatch, the couple used the best transport available in their courtship: pushbikes and the river punt.
“He got to know the ferry driver quite well,” Pam said.
With the fishermen’s co-op in full swing, Cec soon realised the importance of the facility to the commercial fishing operations. He saw the need for people to put their hand up to help, Pam says.
“The family stretches back five generations as commercial fishermen. And the co-op became very much part of our lives,” she said. “It was just there as long as I can remember.”
Pam recalled the connections to long-time Port Macquarie families including Keith and Max Elford, John Styles, Ross Dobson, Wayne Ireland (just to name a small portion).
Cec was part of a government-run initiative – Auscarp – who regularly travelled through NSW and Victoria clearing carp from dams, ponds and river systems.
“They did that if the local fishing season was not too good or through the winter,” Pam said.
After retiring from the industry after the co-operative closed its doors, Cec was in reasonable health, according to Pam.
“On April 12 we went up to see him at the hospital – there were kids, friends and grandkids, we were all there to see him,” Pam said.
“He was being transported to Sydney for an routine procedure – an angiogram – and he was waving at us and joking with the flight crew. He passed away that night.”
Cecil and Pam raised three children, Wayne, Paul and Kerrie-Anne. There are four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
The family has requested anyone with stories to share to contact them. Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised.