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Interview with Hunter McWhinney

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HUNTER MCWHINNEY IN A CHRISTIAN EDUCATION CLASS.

Born and raised in Lanarkshire in the west of Scotland, Hunter McWhinney attended Belvedere Primary and then Bellshill Academy, leaving school at age 16 to attend a four-year course at Jordanhill College of Education, which is now the education faculty of Strathclyde University.

From early childhood until he married, Hunter moved up through the ranks of a church-based ‘service’ organisation called the Boys' Brigade. After graduating, he taught wood/metal and plastics, technical drawing and engineering science at Blantyre High School for six and a half years, prior to emigrating to Victoria with his wife, Janice, in 1984. Having worked in industry as a cabinet-maker and then a maintenance carpenter, Hunter accepted a teaching position at Scotch, commencing in January 1986. He retired at the end of Term 1.

What do you enjoy most about your work at Scotch College?.

Scotch has been an amazingly challenging and rewarding place in which to work over the last 29 and a quarter years. I have enjoyed teaching a variety of subjects and year levels, but I have also coached cricket, soccer, basketball and rowing.

My wife and I lived on the Hill for 13 years, in Arthur Robinson House, McMeckan House, and for a year in ‘The Terrace’..In addition to the boarding houses, I have also been associated with White House (no longer in existence), Selby Smith House and Littlejohn House. I was an officer of Cadets for 14 years before transferring to Social Service/Community Connections. I have built sets and props for a great many school drama productions and Boarders’ Revues, and.attended numerous camps, including the 24 Hour Hike, Cowes and Koomerang.

Scotch is proud of its tradition of service, and this year the school is commemorating the sacrifices made by Old Boys who lost their lives in the preservation of freedom. How do you think the great traditions of service and duty benefit the students of today?

Scotch can be rightly proud of its tradition of service. The Memorial Hall stands as a silent testament to those who did their duty, earned the respect of others, and brought great honour on the school they loved. However, this hall of memories also serves to commemorate and celebrate the courage, foresight and achievements of our founders, leaders, outstanding students and other significant people in the long history of our school. It is hard to imagine anyone not being moved and inspired by an Anzac service in such a special place.

I have many happy memories of involvement with our service programmes. During my time in Cadets, I was a company adviser, unit quartermaster and range officer. Over the years, I had the privilege of working with so many exceptional young men who were outstanding senior Cadet leaders, CUOs and NCOs, often in very challenging situations; at times it was hard to believe that they were in fact still schoolboys. I know that older people often remark on how much tougher things were in the ‘old days’, but I think it is also true of Cadet camps in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, with the camp, advance party and equipment returns being in the region of eight days in duration.

The annual Cadet Unit Tattoo, which evolved from the traditional Remembrance Day parade, was always a highlight for me, having the best seat in the house in the commentator’s box. Some of my most memorable experiences in Social Service were meeting John Farnham with members of my Selby Smith tutor group, following a fundraising effort for Deserted Children (Victoria); and assisting Mr Black with running the Relay for Life on the Main Oval. I also looked after the Amnesty International group for a time and gradually moved into more of a coordination role, eventually becoming TIC of Community Connections’ off-campus placements..

What student expressions of personal growth most impress you?

In my role as assistant to the Head of Social Education, it has been a privilege to be involved in welcoming all new boys to Scotch. Many of these new boys later volunteer to be peer support leaders, ambassadors and games room coordinators, because they appreciated the assistance they received and would like to do the same for other new boys.

Towards the end of each VCE year, at the Speech Night /prize-giving ceremony, I sit in the Mem Hall with other staff and proud parents to watch the Year 12 class of that year walk across the stage for the last time. I don’t recognise every boy immediately, but I often see new boys now grown into fine young men, and I cannot help but be impressed by how much they have grown, not just in stature, but also as emerging members and, in some cases, future leaders of our wider community.

What have been some of the memorable moments during your Scotch career?

There have been many memorable moments in my Scotch career, some of which have been amusing. If I had to choose a memory from the beginning and one from the imminent end, they would probably be these.

From the outset, I found to my surprise that any requests or enquiries made by me over the telephone were received most favourably and/or were granted immediately. In contrast, face-to-face communication invariably resulted in a much less immediate or favourable outcome. I soon realised the reason for this was that apparently I sounded exactly like the then Principal, Dr Donaldson, until I acquired my Aussie accent.

Those who know me will be aware that I rarely rush into things. On 26 January this year, I arrived with my wife for an Australian citizenship ceremony at Hawthorn Town Hall. We expected the ceremony to begin with a didgeridoo, but to our surprise the first people we met on the day were Scotch boys in Scottish highland dress, who opened the proceedings as part of the Hawthorn City Pipe Band. At the conclusion of the service an Old Scotch Collegian, Mr Tim Smith MP, the state member for Kew – who was part of the official party – congratulated us on becoming ‘New Australians’, and later assured me that he still had the ‘very useful storage box’ he had made in my class..

In conclusion, as this will probably be my last contribution to Great Scot, I would like to thank everyone in the Scotch Family for the welcome, encouragement and support I have experienced over the years. It has been a real privilege and a great honour to be part of such a wonderful school for so long..I wish you all the very best for the future. (Numbers chapter 6; verses 24 to 26)

Updated: 3 October 2016