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Quinn Family Tree .pdf

This is a brief summary of Tony's life, so far, and will be expanded on as time goes by.



Tony Quinn was born on the 15th April 1937 in Portadown Northern Ireland, the first of three children, sister,Maureen was born two years later, followed by his brother, Brian two years after that.  His mother (Rose Quinn nee Conway), had gone there to her father-in-laws, for the birth from her home near Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

He went to Derrylatinee Primary School, where his mother was a schoolteacher.

After passing the "Eleven Plus" exam in 1948 he went to St. Patrickís Academy in Dungannon until 1954.

Then came 3 years at Portadown Polytech doing Mechanical Engineering and working in a garage workshop to further his main interest i.e. cars.

In late 1957 decided to change course and went to The Marine Radio College in Belfast to train as Merchant Navy Radio Officer. Left there with 1st Class level certification and then did 6 months sea trip under supervision, as required by regulations.

In 1959 was selected to be one of a team going to Antarctica for two years. Left Southampton October 1959 on the ice ship Kista Dan with other members and sailed to Montevideo. There Sir Vivian Fuchs joined the ship for the trip south. The next stop was Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands where an enjoyable time was had for four weeks helping erect pre-fabricated office buildings for the organisationís staff.

Then headed for Antarctica but the ice conditions that year were very bad and the Kista Dan was unable to reach the area where we were supposed to establish our base. For those interested, an account to this trip can be found in Cliff Pearceís book called "The Silent Sound". It covers in great detail how the Kista Dan was trapped in the ice for three weeks and how she had to be rescued by the American icebreaker the Glacier. Tony and some of his fellow team members were put at a base that could be reached and then the team were re-united the following year when the attempt to get to Marguerite Bay was successful. The base was erected on Stonington Island (Base E)ÖSee Stonington Diary. Moved into the new base April 1961. The 11 man baseís primary object was geographical and geological survey work, which had limited success due to bad weather and loss of one of the Muskeg tractors. This is all well covered in "The Silent Sound". Returned to UK in May 1962.

In 1960 the Antarctica Treaty was signed and so the British Antarctic Survey was set up, headed by Sir Vivian Fuchs, and funded by the British Government. They had two ice ships, the R.R.S. John Biscoe and the R.R.S. Shackleton. (the R.R.S. stands for Royal Research Ship) Tony joined the John Biscoe as sole Radio Officer in September 1962 and did five seven-month trips to Antarctica over the next 5 years, departing from and returning to Southampton.

Another persons account of the trip down south, a couple of years later can be found at

Tony was Radio Officer on the John Biscoe for the trip south and back again.

It was in Southampton that Tony met his future wife (Valerie Lewis) in 1965. He joined IBM in December 1966 in London as a trainee computer engineer. After three months at IBMís school at Rayners Lane, N.E. London he was posted to the West London branch working on IBM mainframes. He stayed there until 1976, becoming Area Specialist on IBMís 360/44 (Area Specialist covered all of Europe and North Africa). Worked on a daily basis on all of IBMís 360 and most of the 370 mainframes during this period.

Was married on 5th July 1968 and they had their honeymoon in the USA, courtesy of IBM, as Tony was going there for more computer training. This was the second training course in the USA, as had just returned from a six week course shortly before his wedding.

Tony and Valerie lived in Addlestone, Surrey where their sons Paul and John were born in 1969 and 1970 respectively. After four years the family moved to the village of Pirbright, deep in the Surrey countryside, where they lived until their departure for New Zealand in March 1976.

This move came about as the result of a conversation with another IBM engineer who was married to a New Zealand girl and they had decided to live in New Zealand. During the farewell party, Tony said, "let me know if there is any jobs available" and then forgot about the conversation, until about four months later when he got a phone call asking "How soon can you get here?"

That was in December 1975, negotiations were quickly concluded and the Quinn family found themselves in New Zealand by the end of March 1976. Valerie had agreed to this adventure on the condition that her parents, Tom and Frieda Lewis, could come also. There was no problem with this with the N.Z. authorities and so they arrived in N.Z. in July 1976 and bought a house close by.

Tony and Valerie bought a house in Sumner, Christchurch about three weeks after arriving, Tony quickly became immersed in his new position as the sole engineering in the South Island for his new employer, Raytheon Data Systems, who had been awarded the contract to computerise the domestic airline, N.A.C.ís reservation system. This entailed quite a bit of traveling around the South Island during the next year and Tony became quite familiar with the "jump seat" in the Boeing 737 and Fokker Friendshipís cockpits, as these were often the only seats available.

Valerie, who was a nurse, soon became employed as District Nurse, around the Sumner and Lyttelton area and then in 1977 was appointed as Matron (now called Principal Nurse) of Jubilee Hospital and in 1986 Matron of Coronation Hospital.

Tonyís working environment broadened as the various international airline offices became computerised followed shortly afterwards by various countrywide networks.

In 1982, with a friend, set up home computer retail and repair business. This business was the beginning of a number of businesses, run under the parent company of Avec Wholesalers . These were as follows :-

Abacus the Microshop 1982 till 1990 when sold.

Dudley House Rest Home bought 1987 and sold 1993. This was owned solely by Val and Tony and was Valís "baby" as she wanted to do elderly care her own way. Val stopped working for the Christchurch Hospital Board in 1988 so, for a period was both working and running the rest home.

Port Motors Lyttelton was bought in 1990 and run on a daily basis by Paul who had been working in the automotive business from leaving school. Paul took over friendís shares in Avec Wholesalers. A second service station in Lyttelton was bought in 1994 and the two amalgamated. This was sold in 1995 when Paul left to explore Africa.

PTWNZ set up in 2003 by Tony & Paul, on his return from Zambia ,under Avec Wholesalers and sold mid 2006.

Canterbury Biodiesel, set up January 2006 until sold 2007

During this period i.e. from 1982 Tony was involved in the day-to-day running of the various businesses he and Paul owned and did all the administrative and accounting work (on computer, of course).

In 1990, helped a friend set a motor sport preparation business i.e. building and preparing race cars and continued with the accounting/administrative side of this business till its sale in 2004. During this period, using the workshop facilities, Tony built a Lamborghini Countach replica (1985 model), which was capable of out performing the original car. This was sold in 2005.

In April 2007 Canterbury Biodiesel was sold to Solid Energy ( a government State Owned Enterprise.) for a considerable sum and a new company BioDiesel New Zealand  was formed with Paul as General Manager and holding shares in the company.

After this Tony effectively retired and he and Val built a new house (moved in Sept 2008 after returning from 3 month trip to UK) in the Styx Mill Country Club with free access to tennis courts ( for Val) , swimming pool, spa etc and gym.

April 2011

Updating after 2 recent major earthquakes.

We were lucky with both quakes in that we live in a part of the city which was not affected, the ground is very solid and stable and so was not affected by liquiefaction which caused major damage in the eastern suburbs. John's (second son) house was broken in two and has to be rebuilt but he and family can still live in it until rebuild time. Lot of our friends have lost their houses completely and live in temporary accommodation probably for at least 2 years before they will be rebuilt.


March 2015

Have moved house again, in June 2014. Moved 40 minutes drive south west of Christchurch to a small rural town to a cottage originally built in 1866, doubled in size in 1908 and updated (wiring, plumbing and insulation) and enlarged in 1998. It has half an acre of beautiful gardens.

John's house has just been repaired after earthquake damage.