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News > Docco's Diary > Docco's Diary: Memories of 1983 at St Peter’s College

Docco's Diary: Memories of 1983 at St Peter’s College

Reflecting on the School's history, David Docwra shares some School highlights after a triumphant reunion for the Class of 1983.
Class of 1983 at Combined Milestone Reunion Dinner on Saturday 4 November
Class of 1983 at Combined Milestone Reunion Dinner on Saturday 4 November

On Saturday 4 November 2023 approximately 55 old scholars who had left in 1983 returned to our School for a successful milestone reunion.

It is interesting to look back to 1983 and remember the good year it was at St Peter’s College – forty years ago. It seems like yesterday.

As Headmaster, Dr AJ Shinkfield, said, in his Speech Day address, “1983 has been an exceptionally fine year in the life of the School from many points of view”. He talked about the outstanding academic standards, the training of boys to be leaders, the successes in a wide range of sports and the outdoor education programme.

He went on to say: “In a school which has such a great tradition of academic and sporting success, it is most important that it notices and values boys whose prowess, endeavour and interest lie in the artistic and cultural areas. The musician, the actor, the singer, the debater and the writer - each makes a unique contribution to the corporate life of the school”. He mentioned some of the artistic and cultural pursuits undertaken in the school in 1983. Old scholars may remember taking part in “St Joan”, “The Gondoliers” or Haydn’s “Nelson Mass”, for example.

Image: Year 12 1983

Dr Shinkfield talked about “the enduring values of courage, compassion, self-discipline and independence of spirit”.

Dr Shinkfield thanked Andrew Potter, the School Captain, Andrew Basham, Vice-Captain, Rod Jensen, secretary of Prefects as well as all Prefects and School Seniors for “their benign, sensible and very effective influence for the good of the School”.

Image: Prefects 1983

Image: School Seniors 1983

The Guest of Honour at Speech Day was The Governor of South Australia, Lieutenant General Sir Donald Dunstan. In his speech he gave some advice to our leavers that is as relevant in 2023 as it was in 1983. He said: “It is your fate, whether you seek it or not, to be leaders. Your education at this school gives society a right to expect it of you. You've been fortunate indeed to have lived and studied in a School which is unsurpassed anywhere in the world”. He went on to talk about leadership: “It has been my experience that good commanders are always men of character. They had in common a tolerance and kindness, a love of peace and a distaste for war, little personal ambition but a deep sense of duty and loyalty. These were the guiding motives of their lives causing them to give their best unsparingly”.

He said: “You will be criticised. This is inevitable. Work on the principle that if what you're doing is not being “knocked” then it's probably not worth doing at all. Finally I pass on some advice given to me by an old soldier who was Chief of Staff of the United States Army”. He said: ‘Always remember there is no limit to what you can achieve provided you don't care who gets the credit’.”

The Young Exhibition for the best scholar of the year in 1983 was awarded to Guy Debelle, who was present at the 2023 Milestone Reunion.

1983 was a good year for sport.

In the Intercollegiate First XI Cricket match, Mark Haysman (112) and Sam Howard (104) both made centuries in our first innings score of 7 for 331 declared. They came together when the score was 3 for 71 and made a partnership of 209. The match was drawn when we were in a strong position, needing only five PAC wickets for victory.

In the Intercollegiate First XVIII Football match, we won 10.8.68 to 5.6.36. Our best players were Ian White, Mark Robinson, Tim Barbour, David Reynolds, Tom Sangster, Andrew Potter, Christian Thomson and Andrew Basham. The First XVIII Football Team lost only one match for the season. This was to Sacred Heart College. “Team work, good skills, determination and enthusiasm were strong factors in its success”.

In Athletics, we won the Achilles Cup. David Dixon set a new Australian Under 18 Javelin record and also won the National Men’s Championship. Tim Barbour gained a silver medal in Australian Under 18 Decathlon. Colours were also awarded to Simon Arkell, David Gluyas, Ian Irving, Bill Shuttleworth and Guy Debelle.

Five Keys awards were made in 1983: Tim Barbour (Athletics), Norris Carter (Exploration Society and Computer Society), Michael Fouyaxis (Soccer), Mark Roderick (Rugby) and Ian White (Football).

Many 1983 leavers travelled from interstate and overseas (some from London) to be present for the Milestone Reunion at St Peter’s College on 4th November 2023, 40 years after they left. Does not this say something about the enormous affection many old scholars have for our School?

Researched and written by David Docwra

David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service and is fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years. David remains connected to St Peter’s College and regularly provides historical articles for the St Peter’s Old Collegians’ newsletters. In 2023 David was made an Honorary Member of the St Peter’s Old Collegians’ Association.

More images from the Combined Milestone Reunion 2023 can be seen here.

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