In the Major league

From learning Arabic to organising charity ventures, Major (Retd) William Edward Welsh, a training officer and avid golfer, has found avenues to realise his quest for community service in Oman, which he calls home

When Major (Retd) William Edward Welsh came to Oman in 2006, following his term in Afghanistan with the British Army, it was to be a three-year stint. But things panned out differently. His Arabic language skill extended that period to five years and saw him joining the Royal Army of Oman (RAO) for another five years. Thereafter, in 2015, the prestigious Military Technical College invited him to join the team and he got on board as the Deputy Director of Technicians.

“I think I am bound to Oman somehow,” he muses, looking back at the exciting changes in his tenure here. It was the sheer contrast between Afghanistan operations and Oman’s peaceful environ that first got his attention. “I fell in love with Oman. Everybody was so friendly and I immediately taught myself Arabic. I learnt one word every day. I quickly realised that it is respectful if you learn a language; you get more from people,” he adds.

It was during his posting in Muscat, after three years with the armoured brigade in the desert, that he got the opportunity to sign a special contract of five years to work for RAO’s engineering training department. His job was to teach young Omanis and pass on his experience in the military. In 2015, at the end of his five year contract, he was due to go back to Germany, where he has made home with his wife Annette. But fate had other plans; or as he puts it, “It was karma!” The Military Technological College offered him a position and he took it up. “I took it up because of two reasons: because I love Oman and because I wanted to give something back to the society. Teaching young men who are going to work as engineers in the military was the ideal position for me to go into. Karma…” he states.

It was karma again that helped shape his social life here. In 2009, following hospitalisation for a knee injury, he had to say goodbye to his football days. But a thoughtful present from a friend – a membership to the Ghallah Wentworth Golf Club – saw him taking up golf and learning the sport on the sand course. Soon, Muscat Hills opened the first green course and he moved over to accomplish his golfing goals. Around this time Al Mouj was getting ready and, when it opened, he became one of the first members and its first club captain.

However, golfing is not all that occupies his leisure time. His military background has been effective in prompting him to undertake charitable work. During his contract with the RAO he helped the Early Intervention Centre for Children with Disabilities by manufacturing training aids like hoists to lift disabled children on to rocking horses. And, as a diving instructor, he has been assisting disabled children learn the sport; he also undertakes golf-ball diving in the Al Mouj Golf course lake to find balls, which are then auctioned for charity. Over the period, he has also initiated an annual charity day to generate aid for the Centre – the event raised RO2000 this year.

Explaining about his love for charitable work, he states: “I have reached a stage in my life where professionally I want to give back my experience to the Omani youth and socially I want to do my bit, as I am in a fortunate position, financially and socially.”

He credits his professional success and his personal achievements to his early decision to join the army. His 40-year career in the army, from September 15, 1975, to September 15, 2015, has seen him move from a non-commissioned officer to the rank of a warrant officer and from a commissioned officer to a Major.

However, life hasn’t been a smooth ride. In 2003 he lost his son in an accident caused by a drunken driver, which he describes as the worst blow in his and wife Annette’s life. Their grandson, who was born ten days before the tragedy, has remained their source of happiness and a reason for them to believe their son wants them to stay happy. Welsh wants to use the lessons learnt to inspire people and share his passion for golfing among young Omanis.

As far as his future plans are concerned, he hopes to continue contributing to the society before retiring to Germany, where he plans to open an English school to teach street English to tourists and travellers.

Up Close & Personal With William Welsh

The home I grew up in…

Was in the North East of England, Newcastle, on a council Estate; it was a shipyard/ mining community, with little opportunities.

When I was a child I wanted to…

I ran everywhere, so maybe I wanted to be an athlete and a footballer and play for Newcastle United.

The moment that changed me forever…

Losing my son to a drugged and drunk driver…would not wish that on anybody.

My greatest inspiration…

My wife, Annette, inspired me to become more than my expectations.

My hero…

In the short term, because of my passion for Newcastle United, Alan Shearer, who inspired people; in the medium term, Winston Churchill – in adversity he rallied the Allies to contribute to the freedom we now enjoy; long term, Queen Elizabeth 2 – her moral standards, her place in the world and her unwavering leadership.

If I could change one thing about myself…

Be more patient with people – at work and socially.

I dream of…

Health and prosperity for my family and to enjoy life and experience travel.

What I see when I look in the mirror…

Someone who has achieved and experienced many things and has improved them, both in a military humanitarian arena and, more closely, with friends and family.

It’s not fashionable but I like…

Cooking.

My greatest regret…

Not seeing my son develop into a mature adult and a good father.

You may not know it, but I’m no good at…

Difficult one this…as I generally turn my hand to most things. May be sewing.

You may not know it, but I’m very good at…

Cooking, playing all sports and being a good friend.

If I have time to myself…

I over think situations, over plan and organise, which is not always a good thing.

My house is…

Small but homely; it is the first home we have had after 35 years of marriage, as military houses are just not the same.

My favourite haunt/holiday destination…

Tuscany in Italy and all of Oman. I am somewhat spoilt for choice.

My favourite weekend spot in Oman…

Al Mouj Golf Club with friends, a good clean competitive game and socialising at the 19th.

I will not leave my house without…

My GSM, car keys, wallet, a shave and a picture of my wife.

Five things I like about Oman…

People, people, people, people and people…add to that the sun, golf, sea and hospitality.

A book that changed me…

Serve To Lead, a Sandhurst Leadership Book and Newcastle United: 50 Years of Hurt.

On top of my wish/bucket list is…

To be gracious in life, become a better golfer and help those who wish to be helped.

My success mantra is…

‘Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance’, and always, ‘Deal with the crocodile closest to the boat first, then the others.’

In 10 years’ time, I hope to be…

Here and alive, helping people to succeed in their wishes and desires.

 

 

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