HELPING HANDS: Fred Hyde spends most of his year in Bangladesh building schools for children.
HELPING HANDS: Fred Hyde spends most of his year in Bangladesh building schools for children. CONTRIBUTED

Modest Warwick man changes lives for Bangladesh's poor

HE MAY well be Australia's oldest charity worker, but 94-year-old Fred Hyde hasn't let his age stop him from making a difference.

For the past 35 years, Mr Hyde has spent six months of each year conducting charity work in Bangladesh.

The Warwick man dedicated his physical, emotional and financial resources to help shape the lives and education of children in the Third World country through his CO-ID organisation.

The former Australian of the Year was again recognised for his outstanding charity work this year.

This week Mr Hyde received his 2015 RSL ANZAC Peace Prize.

Despite the amount of recognition Mr Hyde had received, he wasn't convinced he deserved the award.

"It was quite a surprise to me," he said "I don't know if I deserve it; there's a lot of other people doing a lot of other things.

"A lot of the credit, of course, goes back to the people who support us back here."

Winner of the 2015 Anzac Peace Prize Fred Hyde.
Winner of the 2015 Anzac Peace Prize Fred Hyde.

Since 1991 he has built 45 schools, five kindergartens and helped train 165 teachers.

There are currently 13,000 students enrolled in his schools and the region holds a 100% graduation rate.

"The kids get free education; they don't have to pay for their pens and their pads, or their skipping rope, or their football. It's completely free," Mr Hyde said.

"We have students whose children now go to our schools.

"It's the children and seeing them get an education that makes it all worthwhile."

This year has been another successful year for Mr Hyde and his organisation.

"We had one school washed away last year. We had to rebuild that school this year up on higher ground," he said.

"We also built two pre-schools and we built a staff house.

"It's the most satisfying way to spend your old age."

OPINION: Peace Prize a fitting honour for deserving man

After 35 years of charity work, Mr Hyde said it would depend on his health in regards to how long he would continue with the organisation.

He said he would be prepared to hand over his charity work to a younger and passionate person.

"We do want somebody who would take that on, some practical kind of person who would take on the kind of management for this.

"We need more money coming in, because this work costs a lot of money.

"We want more sponsors and we want more young people to be coming into our organisation to keep the work going.

"I hope that the people can keep it going, not just for the sake of the people here, but for the sake of the people over there."

Warwick RSL sub-branch president John Skinner said the the organisation was proud to nominate Mr Hyde for the award.

"He's certainly an inspiration to a lot of people," he said.

"He's shown that when your working life is over, there are so many things you can achieve if you want.

"The RSL sub-branch is very proud that we nominated Fred in the first place and he went on to receive the highest national award by RSL Australia."

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