My story starts a few decades ago as a chubby little primary school kid in outback NSW attending a school of only six children. I was initially booked into Joeys, which became infeasible due to the amount of stairs. A Riverview parent asked if we had considered St Ignatius’ College, assuring us the school was more accessible than Joeys. We gave Riverview a call. Never having had a boarder in an electric power chair, the College was at a crossroads it would take an overhaul of infrastructure, the role of the infirmary, staff and a new approach to boarding if it were to accommodate me.
Luckily, Leanne Neal, in charge of the Infirmary, has been one of the greatest influences on Riverview and has shaped it into the school it is today. Along with Chris Hayes and Shane Hogan, the decision to invest in me was made and Riverview welcomed me as one of three Year 6 boarders in 1999.
Each year as I progressed, a building plan was simultaneously occurring in the background to make the areas I would visit in the following years accessible. For this I am always grateful to Bob Marsh the Facilities Manager at Riverview for his commitment to transforming the school.
All went well at Riverview. But by Year 11 four years of drought had seriously impacted on our family’s financial situation. This was compounded by my father having to undergo a spinal fusion, resulting in no physical work while he recovered over 12 months. We were reduced to depending on Mum’s nursing income to support us. I convinced my parents to apply for a bursary, which we were lucky enough to receive for Years 11 and 12. This was a huge relief, as I felt guilty that every day I was enjoying school, that enjoyment was costing my family money, which was very difficult for them to find.
After finishing Year 11 and flagging my intentions to attend university, Riverview worked with Bond University to offer me an academic scholarship to study Law and Business. Riverivew wasn’t far away. Will Marsh and Alex Smith similarly took up scholarships and the three of us ventured to Bond. We shared a balcony between our rooms and those boys displayed the Riverview spirit and sense of camaraderie, assisting and supporting me over the four years to make sure I could complete my degrees. I feel we were driven by this sense of acknowledgement Riverview attempts to instil in all boys that attend the College, a sense of social responsibility and need to give back to the community, to repay the debt we all have for the privilege of attending Riverview regardless of whether we are supported by a bursary or not.
After uni, I went on to work in Business Development for CA Technologies. After a few years I accepted an offer to work for Ernst & Young as a Process Improvement & Risk Management Consultant. I have been involved with billion dollar rail, housing and infrastructure projects, across a range of industries and government sectors.
But even today, Riverview is never far away. This school shapes our future beyond anything any of us could have imagined upon our arrival here, especially for this little country kid from Coolabah.