It has been a magnificent year for the School and for Old Boys. Given that this year has been the 150th anniversary of Brisbane Grammar School and the 100 year commemoration of the signing of the Armistice for the end of WWI, we have seen no shortage of celebratory and commemorative events. For me, the highlight of this year will be Remembrance Day, where these two key themes align, highlighting both the significance of the School to Queensland and the contribution of both BGS Old Boys and staff to the Australian Defence Force.
On 11 November 2018, the School will conduct a very special Remembrance Day service that will not only acknowledge the centenary of the signing of the Armistice and the service and sacrifice of all Australian serviceman, but also recognise the contributions of current and past serving Old Boy members of the Australian Defence Force.
The service this year will include a Catafalque Party provided by the 9th Battalion of the Royal Queensland Regiment. This Battalion, Queensland's own, and descendants of the 9th Battalion Australian Imperial Force - first ashore at Gallipoli, has been commanded by a number of BGS Old Boys, including myself, and I'm delighted to be providing the address this year.
Following the outbreak of war in 1914, many teachers and Old Boys enlisted in the 9th Battalion and other Units and Services, and 28 students and two teachers ultimately gave their lives during the soon to be fought Dardanelles Campaign.
The original Old Boy members of the 9th Battalion sailed on the Omrah, leaving Brisbane just after midday on 24 September 1914, arriving in Egypt after an eventful journey, on 25 November. These Old Boy soldiers did not know it then that they were destined to be among the first soldiers ashore at the Gallipoli landing on the 25 April 1915. Twenty-six Old Boys and teachers were present at the landing at Anzac Cove, 17 of them still teenagers. Six hundred and forty Old Boys ultimately served with the AIF during WWI.
This year, on Sunday 11 November, all past and current serving Old Boys are welcome to join other members of the BGS community for the commemoration service. In addition, the School will open the newly refurbished War Memorial Library precinct that has been renovated through contributions from Old Boys, the P&F Auxiliary and a grant obtained by the OBA from the Queensland Government.
The War Memorial Library is a heritage listed building that was opened on Armistice Day in 1924 and pre-dates many of Queensland's more prominent memorial sites – including Anzac Square, which is also known as the 9th Battalion Memorial, which didn't open until Armistice Day 1930.
It will be a fitting commemorative tribute to the history of the School and those who served and will be the start of a very special week of celebrations as the current Year 12s graduate and become BGS Old Boys.
The 150-year anniversary celebrations during the year have been a wonderful catalyst for many more Old Boys to return to the School and the Committee is delighted with the increased interest and participation Old Boys enjoyed over the past 12 months.
The Old Boys' Association continues to conduct innovative activities in an effort to provide opportunities to bring Old Boys together with other parts of the BGS community to support the progressive initiatives of the current Headmaster and Board.
A highlight of the year was the Old Boys dinner held at the Queensland Cricketers' Club with a theme of bringing the band back together. Hundreds turned out to enjoy music performed by a number of Old Boys who have enjoyed success during their musical careers. The popularity of the night has encouraged your Committee to look at similar events in 2019.
Activities over the next 12 months will include:
- Remembrance Day service
- Committee tie giving ceremony with the graduating Class of 2018
- Three professional networking evenings
- Launch of the Old Boy mentoring initiative
- Foundation Day Old Boy parents cocktail party
- Old Boy Annual Reunion Dinner
- Open Day participation
- Interstate community reunions
In addition, The Grammarians Rowing Club continues to go from strength to strength, actively involving more than 50 Old Boys and helping them keep fit, healthy and competitive on the water. Read more about another OBA initiative, DadBods in this edition of The Grammarian.
On behalf of the Old Boys' Association, I'd like to congratulate this year's graduating class and welcome you back to the School community as Old Boys and encourage you to stay engaged. Also, as the year comes to a close, the Committee would like to congratulate BGS on the 150th anniversary and encourage all components of the School community to work together to continue to build upon the positive achievements of the past 150 years.
Chris Austin '79
President – Brisbane Grammar School Old Boys' Association