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2008 : The Australian Chapter Review

The Australian Chapter

It is almost ten years ago now that a WOBS (as Worthians were called then) dinner was held in Sydney to coincide with a Worth rugby tour and theatrical tour of Australia.  The Joeys (St Josephs) score board revealed that a team of elegantly proportioned and porcelain coloured ‘poms’ was certainly no match for a side weaned on a diet of steak and plenty of fresh air (not to mention the additional Pacific Island genes!).  Not even the presence of Glenn Robertson – that erstwhile head of Worth Rugby and International coach – could rally the troops.

Dinner was a memorable affair, and it is etched in my memory for the remarkable vocational diversity of Worthians as well as the sheer wonderment of a shared child to adulthood journey.  For many of us Worth gave us a profound spiritual roadmap that would underpin our lives at home and at work.  Inevitably some of the faces of yesteryear have returned to England or have moved elsewhere. However, it is surprising how many Worthians do live in Australia (indeed there are probably a few that we don’t even know about) and it was a pleasure to have the excuse to re-unite a few of them during Abbot Christopher Jamison’s visit to Australia for World Youth Day in July 2008.

Unfortunately it was not possible to get everyone along to dinner – perhaps because Sydney airport was strangulated by the hoards of happy-clappy pilgrims!  Sydney hasn’t seen such a huge corroboree of excited and joyful people since it waved goodbye to the Beatles in 1964.  Abbot Christopher – late of Melbourne and who we like to claim as our own i.e. Australian! – managed to jet in without too many problems.  However, a few people bailed him up on Glebe Point Road having recognised him as the ‘Australian Idol’ of “The Monastery” – a programme which was televised on the ABC at around midnight on Sunday evenings.  This is amazing but true, and shows that there is, after all, something to do after late night shopping on the Sabbath.

The Caillard family make up a large proportion of the Australian chapter.  Bernard and Anthony Caillard were both at Worth when it was a prep school in the 1930s, and they both married Australians.  Anthony Caillard (who shares a birthday with the Pope – same day, same year, same country!) and sons Richard (C’74) Andrew (C’78), David (R’79), and John (R’81) met in a rare complete family get together.  They made up 50% of the Worthian contingent who got together with Abbot Christopher for dinner on that July evening in Balmain.

Joe Hurley (C’82), Anthony Ringrose-Voase (C’77) Cormac Stanford (StB’98) and Rob Burroughs (R’82) together with their wives and partners, also managed to make it through the road blocks.  Although it was a smaller meeting than the group who met up a decade earlier, it was still another memorable night.  Our guest of honour, Abbot Christopher, gave us all the news and developments at Worth.  For many of us it was a very nostalgic evening; a time to reflect on our school days and to remember the monks and old friends.

The following day thousands of pilgrims hugged the foreshore to watch the “Stations of the Cross” under a glorious cold cerulean Sydney sky.  It was a day when a city of all creeds stopped and pondered the ideals of faith, hope and charity.

Unfortunately, Matt Preston (C’79), Angus Gaunt (G’77), Duncan Curry (StB’72), Charlie Haynes (G’84), Barley Ward-Thomas (B’84), Michael Marr (C’83) were sadly unable to join us this time and sent their apologies – but we hope it won’t be another ten years before we all meet up again.

Andrew Caillard (C’78)