The Tony Balthasar Achievement Award was made possible by Dick Smith, but inspired by Tony Balthasar.
Who was Tony Balthasar?
Tony Balthasar was born into a wealthy Belgian family in 1934. As a child, he was not permitted to join Scouts. As a young adult, Tony was deeply involved in amateur ham radio operation, meeting fellow ham radio enthusiast Dick Smith through this shared hobby.
Through their mutual interest in amateur radio, Dick Smith brought Tony Balthasar into 1st East Roseville Scout Group, where Tony soon became the Assistant Rover Scout Leader. Not long after, he became the Crew's only Rover Scout Leader, a role which he retained for 15 years. Tony provided financial support to both Dick Smith and the rest of the Crew, allowing them to undertake some extraordinary expeditions, such as sailing to Ball's Pyramid and attempting to climb it, as well as participating in ice-climbing at the Kandersteg International Scout Centre, Switzerland.
When Tony passed away, he donated most of his wealth to Scouting, and this was used towards building the Scout Alpine Base at Jindabyne, as well as setting up a fund to support underprivileged Scouts to attend Jamborees.
Who is Dick Smith?
Born in 1944, Dick Smith is an Australian businessman, adventurer, sailor, pilot, philanthropist and, more recently, political activist. He currently lives on Sydney's northern beaches.
Dick was a keen amateur ham radio enthusiast and his early business ventures revolved around this. Firstly, he repaired car and CB radios for taxi drivers, and later ventured into retail, initially setting up a store selling electric and electronic components for fellow electronics, computer and radio enthusiasts. This eventually became an Australia-wide chain of Dick Smith Electronics stores, which he sold in the early 1980s.
His time in Scouting ignited Dick's passion for nature and the amazing Australian environment. This passion led him to found the Australian Geographic magazine, which publishes articles on the geographic and natural history and state of Australia.
in 1999 Dick established Dick Smith Foods, as a response to the gradual sale of food producing companies to overseas firms. This company donates 100% of its profits to various Australian charities.
Dick’s passion for adventure and exploration quickly led him to flying. A keen aviator, he gained his pilot’s license at age 28. In 1977 he chartered a plane and was the first person to fly a sightseeing plane over Antarctica. Between 1982-1983, Dick became the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter, flying a Bell Jetranger 206B. This helicopter is now displayed in the Power House museum in Sydney. In 1987, Dick became the first person to fly a helicopter over the north pole. Subsequent to this, he flew a small plane around the world following the meridians of longitude, landing at both the North and South Poles. Dick was the first person to fly across Australia in a hot-air balloon. In addition to numerous other major aviation expeditions, Dick has held many senior and advisory roles on and to CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) and has had a significant impact on changing and improving CASA regulations.
Dick Smith has significantly contributed to many charities and causes, as well as starting his own charities, when he saw a need to.
Named Australian of the Year in 1986, Dick has received many more accolades for his many contributions to Australian society.
In recent years, Dick has used his public image to push his political and economic views.
Dick Smith started his Scouting career in 1952, when, aged 8, he joined 1st East Roseville Wolf Cubs. He continued on in Scouting, joining Rovers sometime around 1962. He completed his Baden-Powell Award in 1966 and finished Rovers in 1967.
During his time in Rovers, Dick was part of many big adventures. In 1964, with the assistance of Tony Balthasar, Dick organised a sailing trip for his Rover Crew to Ball's Pyramid, near Lord Howe Island. This is a sail of around four days each way. When the group arrived at Ball's Pyramid, they spent five days trying to climb it, however they were unsuccessful in reaching the summit. However, he returned to Ball's Pyramid in 1980 and was successful in reaching the summit of the volcanic sea spire and unfurl the Australian flag to officially claim it for Australia.
During his Rovering career, Dick was able to, again with the assistance of Tony Balthasar, visit Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland, and learn ice climbing.
In his later life, Dick attributed much of his success to skills he learnt in his time in Scouts. “Scouting allows people to be individuals, but also to work as a team. I found in my business that what I’d learnt in my early days in Scouting, to get on with people, was incredibly important."
I began as a Cub at eight and went right through to Rovers at age 23. I was very much a loner and Scouting gave me mateship, taught me organisation and how to motivate people. That’s why I was able to be the success that I am.
History of the Balthasar Award
Tony Balthasar was a very significant person in Dick Smith's Scouting life and had a significant impact on Dick. Inspired by Tony's bequethment to Scouting, and after reflection upon how greater an impact Scouting had on his successes, Dick decided to make a similar contribution to his Rover crew and try to provide subsequent 1st East Roseville Rovers with some of the same opportunities that he was able to enjoy.
In 1982, after Dick had become a very wealthy and successful businessman, he decided to donate a large sum of money to 1st East Roseville Rovers, in order to provide subsequent crew members the same opportunities that he was fortunate enough to have. This became the Balthasar award fund and was available to 1st East Roseville Rovers every second year.
A few years after East Roseville Rovers had folded, it was suggested that the award be opened up to other Sydney North Region Rovers. This occurred in 2007.
Since then, the award has made a sum of money available to assist any Sydney North region Rover who successfully applies, to undertake an adventurous overseas expedition, in the same vein as Dick Smith was able to.