The Grammarian | MAY 2017: Message from OBA President


​​​​​​​​​​​The AGM of the BGS OBA was recently conducted and I'm pleased to inform you that the 2017 Committee comprises:

Chris Austin '79
​Vice President
Michael Forrest '87
Jim MacPherson '85
John Emery '83
Past Presid​ent 
Stuart Rees '79
​Committee Members
Geoff Clarke '64, Cameron McLeod '88, Julian Potten '07, Cameron Feltham '86,
Tim Sharpless '11, Nathan Huehne ​'11​, Jeremy Hunt '16

Both Ross Hirst and David Fielding did not stand for election this year. I'd like to thank Ross for his work as Vice President over the past 12 months and as a Committee member prior and thank long serving committee member David for his efforts over several years. 

I welcome new committee members Jeremy, Timothy and Nathan and look forward to their contributions.

It is pleasing to note that we have a number of new faces on the committee and some of those faces are a lot younger than the majority of committee's that have gone before. The diversity of age will help support strategic initiatives that are targeting various demographics within the Old Boy Community. The committee is keen to engage with a younger demographic and there has been some recent success in this area.

It has been my honour to have been President of the Old Boys Association for the past 12 months and I look forward to the next year. I'm satisfied that this committee has continued to build upon the successes of the previous committee, and I believe the work we have completed in developing a strategic plan has helped focus our efforts. A clear sense of direction is emerging from the planning process and this has led to strong engagement with Old Boys, positive alignment with the School and a refinement to the types of activities we are conducting and what the expected outcomes look like.

Recently your Association engaged with Old Boys over the issues surrounding the findings of the Royal Commission. The feedback regarding the letter sent to members was very positive and many Old Boys expressed their support to those that have been affected. Our thoughts remain with those affected and I wish them well for the future.

Several successful networking activities have been hosted by the OBA and they have resulted in almost 200 younger Old Boys engaging with more experienced members. The younger members have benefited from the interaction and stories of life experiences and the demand for attendance at these sessions is strong.  The last activity was a finance industry networking event and over 80 people attended of which 80 per cent were in the target audience of under 30 years of age. The next activity will focus on medicine and engineering will follow. Over the next 12 months the OBA plan to develop additional initiatives that will develop the foundations of a meaningful mentoring program for recent school and university graduates.

I have been very impressed with the continued growth of the Brisbane Grammarian Rowing Club. The Grammarians have around 50 members and are the most active component of the OBA. I congratulate Grammarian President, David Carroll and his committee on their continued success in building membership numbers, growing their fleet and maintaining a busy training and competitive program. The OBA would like to support other interest groups that may be associated with the arts, science or sports orientated and I'd encourage individuals keen to develop a special interest group to approach the OBA.

The Grammarians, BGS and the Tipperoo Club recently assisted Old Boy's from the 1967 First Eight in conducting a reunion that included events both off and on the water. This successful reunion organised by Old Boy Wally Arndt ran in to challenges resulting from Cyclone Debbie, however they were able to take to the water on the Sunday, following a lunch on the Saturday. I was invited to attend this lunch where I heard stories of triumph from 1967 and was able to catch up with BGS teaching legend and former rowing coach, Mr Barry Montague.

At the Foundation Day assembly, it was my pleasure to present Old Boy bursary cheques to three students. Bursaries are an important part of the Old Boy Committee agenda and we are pleased to support the School's year group bursary initiative that will help provide opportunities for boys to attend BGS that would not otherwise be possible. On the evening of Foundation Day, the committee hosted the annual foundation day cocktail party which gathers existing Old Boy parents to welcome new Old Boy parents to the School. This was a successful event and it was heartening to see so many Old Boys that have made the decision to have their sons follow in their footsteps.

The OBA Committee has been tussling with issues of funding over recent years and we recently resolved a motion that will result in a sustainable line of funding tied to a specific set of agreed activities that are part of the budget program flowing from the strategic plan. I alert Old Boys to some potential changes to our constitution that will be required to support the funding arrangements and the agreed initiative that will result in all new graduates automatically becoming Life Members of the OBA.

I recently attended Old Boy reunions in Melbourne and Sydney where approximately 70 Old Boys gathered to tell stories, catch up with old friends and in one case provide a rousing school war cry. The Headmaster and I gave short addresses to update Old Boys on recent happenings and future plans and members had a chance to provide the School's historian Helen Penrose with some interesting firsthand recollections. Helen addressed both groups and provided an interesting potted history of the OBA and some glimpses of our history that previously​ had been unknown to most members. I'm looking forward to reading more about the School and the history of the OBA when the book being authored by Helen is published during the Sesquicentenary year.

We have a busy program ahead and I highlight some of the key activities:

27 May​​​
BGS Golf Day
7 June
Medicine Networking Event
21 July  
Annual Reunion Dinner
12 August 
BGS Open Day

The OBA is a voluntary organisation run on the good will and fine efforts of the Committee with wonderful support from the School. I am very grateful to the Committee for the effort they have contributed towards achieving the goals of the OBA. I also wish to specifically acknowledge the support of the Headmaster Anthony Micallef and the Chairman Howard Stack, along with the assistance and hard work from Heather Watson and Carla Hardy and the rest of Alumni and Community Relations.​

Next year in 2018 is the Sesquicentenary of the School and the OBA look forward to joining with rest of the BGS community in celebrating our 150 years. Please contact me at​ if you have feedback for the Committee or you wish to contribute in supporting OBA activities. I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Reunion Dinner to be held on Friday 21 July at the Hilton.​

Christopher Austin
President BGS OBA​​​