Old Sydneians’ Newsletter - Volume 22

Sydney Grammar School

From the President of the OSU

We are almost into the seventh month of COVID-19 and, although we are doing extremely well as a nation, the future remains uncertain. Now more than ever, we need and have our fellow Old Sydneians for support. My thoughts go out to those Old Sydneians residing in Melbourne who are experiencing such things as evening curfews and a one-hour limitation on exercise for the first time in Australian history. But more so, at this time, my thoughts go out to all the boys in Sixth Form this year who should be celebrating the pinnacle of their secondary school life, competing in the highest level of sporting teams, music performances, cadet camps, valedictory events, formals and, generally, just enjoying their final year at school. 

Two weeks ago, just before the GPS Competition was temporarily suspended, I was lucky enough to present the First XV with their rugby jerseys. It was a great opportunity to share some stories of past deeds and let them know that they had the full support of the Old Sydneians. The following day, the First XV went out and trounced Shore, scoring eight tries to one in a 46 to 5 victory – Well Done! 

While resilience has been a buzz word for many years, I have no doubt that the class of 2020 will be one of the most resilient bunch of Sixth Formers ever and that can only hold them in good stead for their future endeavours once they leave School.

Captain of the First XV Andrew Blackburn presenting Walter MacCallum with a rugby ball signed by the First XV


OSU Scholarship

Oscar Eichmann (Form VI) has been awarded the OSU Scholarship for 2020. In recent times, Oscar has written a book on Latin Grammar, which is now published and available for purchase at Abbey’s Bookstore. Entitled 31 Language Lessons, it was developed as a clear and concise reference text.


A Short History of ‘The Grammar Car’

‘The Grammar Car’ is a 1934 Rolls Royce 20/25 hp (Chassis GYD15) and was originally imported from England to Victoria. It was purchased with its sister car (Chassis GYD12), which is still on the road in Victoria, and has now been beautifully restored as a wedding hire car.

Both cars were sent to Martin and King coachworks in Melbourne in the 1930's. At the time, Rolls Royce motor cars were not supplied with a body. Owners would purchase the car without the body and then select a coach builder to carry out the specified coach work; hence the wide variation in Rolls Royce cars of the time.

Cecil Whitmont (my grandfather and OS 1928) purchased the car in 1973 and resprayed it in Grammar colours (which coincidentally was a Rolls Royce approved colour scheme). It has remained a proud (unofficial) Grammar ambassador ever since. She has delivered many a family bride to her wedding over the years and hopefully will be in service for many years to come.

I am in the process of restoring her and I assure everyone that the colours will remain unchanged. I would be happy to make her available to the School for promotional or ceremonial use when the restoration is complete.

Theo Whitmont (OS 1986)

Vale Rodney Knock

Rodney was an Old Sydneian (1948-1949) and a highly respected master from 1954-1988. Sadly, he passed away very recently on Friday 7 August, and one of his best friends Gordon Cooper delivered a heart-warming eulogy at his funeral in Newcastle.

The Sydney Grammar School Alumni office has since been flooded with emails describing Rodney as ‘wonderful’, ‘kind’, ‘amusing’, ‘dedicated’, ‘generous’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘compassionate’ and ‘intelligent’. He was clearly a huge, positive influence on many old boys.

‘Old’ Teacher Profile

Paul Erik Du Toit (Sydney Grammar School History Master 1960-1964) 

Paul was born in England and joined the RAF in WWII. He became an expert on radio and the reproduction of sound. Having trained as a teacher, he taught in Hong Kong after the war where he found time to indulge in his great passion for cars by organising motor racing. He was also involved in education committees, experimenting in the early use of radio and television in schools. He later taught at The Scots College before coming to Sydney Grammar School in 1960.

Paul loved fine music, read a great deal about European and Asian history, and was a keen photographer. With these interests, he became a very enthusiastic and inspirational History teacher. He also involved himself in the making of props for the Globe Players and he was the Master in Charge of Rowing, transforming the Shed. Paul believed that a teacher needed to pour energy and thought into activities so that boys and coaches could get the best from them. 

Alec Hill wrote in his obituary: 'He was a rare man who gave himself without limit in whatever he did. Strong in mind and body he approached every interest - and most things interested him - with enthusiasm and energy.'

Sadly, Paul died after a sudden illness in August 1964 and he was greatly missed by boys and Staff.

Thank you to Michael Doumani (OS 1961) for reminding us about Paul.

A tribute to his memory was paid by the members of the Hong Kong Motor Sports Club when his plaque was unveiled in Kowloon in 1965.

Rugby and Football

Despite a short suspension to the GPS Competition, it has been a rewarding season for our rugby and football teams. With three fixtures remaining against St Ignatius’ College, Sydney Boys High School and St Joseph’s College, our Rugby Firsts have recorded three straight wins and our Football Firsts one win, one draw and one loss.

Games are live-streamed and there will be a link to GPS rugby and football fixtures on the homepage. The Grammar games will stay on the site until midday Sunday.

Saturday 17 October: 1990 30-year Reunion Drinks, The Phoenix Hotel, Woollahra from 5:00pm has been postponed.

Saturday 24 October: 1975 45-year Reunion Drinks, The Phoenix Hotel, Woollahra from 5:00pm has been cancelled.

Thursday 29 October: 1960 and 1961 60-year Reunion Lunch has been postponed.

Saturday 14 November: 1980 40-year Reunion Lunch, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Rushcutters Bay from 12:30pm has been postponed.

Wednesday 18 November: 1950-1951-1952 Annual Lunch (including partners), Alastair Mackerras Theatre Foyer, Stanley Street, from 12:15pm (to be confirmed)

Saturday 21 November: 1970 50-year Reunion Lunch, I’m Angus Steakhouse, The Promenade, King St Wharf, from 12:30pm (to be confirmed)

Wednesday 2 December: 1948 and 1949 Annual Lunch, The Greenwood Hotel, Greenwood Plaza, North Sydney from 12:00pm (to be confirmed)

For further details of the above events, please contact Wendy Scotter at wes@sydgram.nsw.edu.au.

Jonathan Swan (OS 2003)

Jonathan is the Australian reporter whose interview on HBO in August with US President Donald Trump gained world attention.

He began his career as a cadet journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald in 2011 after completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney and a stint in advertising and was soon sent to Canberra to report on federal politics. The year after covering the 2013 election campaign he won an American Australian Association fellowship to study US politics and history at John Hopkins University, and he worked for Republican Senator Ed Royce. Later he took on a permanent journalistic role with the political news website The Hill and he now works as a political reporter for Axios.

Rodney Holt (OS 1979)

Rodney has always been interested in sport. Working as a chef and businessman, he moved to Bali in 1992 and he participated in many different sports. Rodney co-founded Bali Rugby Union, became the first Bali rugby player to represent Indonesia and won the Bali Sports Personality of the Year in 2007. He also initiated various sporting events, such as HOTAIR! Kite Surfing, the Sanur Village Sports Festival and more recently the Bali Ocean Swim, the Bali Stickfighting Challenge, Singapore 4’s and SE Asian Wheelchair Rugby Super Series.

Rodney realised that sport could help the local disadvantaged Indonesians, and he founded the Bali Sports Foundation (BSF) Asia in 2009. BSF now runs swimming programs for autistic, cerebral palsy, blind, deaf mute and amputee youth and it has introduced blind judo and deaf-mute self-defence, wheelchair shooting, wheelchair basketball, boccia, wheelchair rugby, disabled sailing and disabled lawn bowls to Indonesia and East Timor, as well as wheelchair rugby to Cambodia, Singapore and Myanmar.

In 2019 BSF Asia coordinated and ran tournaments across five different countries including first time events in Malaysia, Cambodia and West Indonesia (Sumatra). With the help of sponsors, stakeholders and volunteers, Rodney hopes to expand the organisation and ultimately allow more persons with disabilities to participate in sport throughout SE Asia.


Mahesh Padmanabhan (OS 2005)

Mahesh has been playing professional basketball for the Hyderabad Sky, in the UBA Pro Basketball League based in India and was a ‘train on’ player for the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL in 2017. In recent times, he has assisted with the coaching of our Grammar Basketball Firsts.

Originally from Chennai, his parents moved to Sydney in 1985 and he played competitive tennis until the age of 18. After that, it was always basketball and Mahesh played in the Northern Suburbs Basketball Association in Sydney. He says that he owes his success to his parents who always supported him through ‘thick and thin’.

Mahesh also has a degree in finance and physiotherapy, and during this COVID-19 year he is working as a physiotherapist in the aged care sector.

Anthony Locascio (OS 2010)

After leaving school, Anthony studied Law and worked in the insolvency industry for four and a half years. He realised that a corporate path did not suit him, so he started writing comedic material and performed at nights while working daily in the office. A year and half in, it started going well enough that he decided to leave the insolvency career behind and become a professional comedian.

Since then Anthony has been writing, producing and performing a new solo tour each year. He had two runs at the Sydney Comedy Festival, as well as a sell-out solo show last year at the Sydney Comedy Store. Anthony has also routinely performed at the best venues in Sydney but COVID-19 has adversely affected the entertainment industry, preventing him from an eagerly awaited tour of Perth. Nevertheless, he has maintained a decent social media following, and most of his past material is available on his YouTube channel.

Mathew Pal (OS 1994)

Mat is an artist whose painting mural is currently on display at Bondi. After leaving Sydney Grammar School, Mat studied at UNSW College of Fine Arts and East Sydney Technical College. He spent time working in the retail and wholesale fashion industry but then decided to focus on his artwork.

Mat’s fashion illustrations have been featured in a book called The Party Dress by Alexandra Black, and he has had commissions in the Australian Financial Review Magazine. He also did a mural in the Paul Smith flagship store in Melbourne, as well as a set of illustrations and the landing page for a website for ACON (AIDS Council of NSW) on relationships. His website is www.matpal.net

A vast amount of hard copy magazines are 'returned to sender' each time the School sends a new edition out to subscribers through the post. If you are regularly on the move and would prefer to receive the SGS magazine online via email, or would no longer wish to receive a hard copy of the magazine via post, please kindly notify Alumni Officer Wendy Scotter on (02) 9332 5843 or wes@sydgram.nsw.edu.au.

Alternatively, you are able to view most editions of SGS and Foundations magazine anytime via the School's website

The School Archives now has a permanent display space to showcase our collection of archival photographs, artefacts and memorabilia spanning over 170 years of school-related history. The Archives Museum and Alumni Reception area is located on the Middle Playground level of the Science Building at College Street. The visiting hours are from 9:00am- 4:00pm Monday to Friday. Due to COVID-19 restrictions Old Sydneians and the public are unable to visit the Office until further notice.

There is also a temporary exhibition of the School’s Archives in the foyer of the Alastair Mackerras Theatre.
Please note that the School Archives Museum is still open for enquiries via email to sgsarchives@sydgram.nsw.edu.au.

Archives on the Sydney Grammar School Website

A range of archival content has been digitised and recently uploaded to the Grammar website, aiming to make it easier for users to access the School Archives collection. Visit the School Archives to explore enrolment registers, copies of The Sydneian and Speech Day booklets and lists of Old Sydneians involved in World War I and II among other resources that will continue to be added to this page. For further information please contact Bridget Minatel or Charlotte McColl at sgsarchives@sydgram.nsw.edu.au or phone 02 9332 5833.

To view photographs via Flickr visit the following link. Do you have any old Sydney Grammar related photos you would like to donate to the Archives? If so, please let us know at sgsarchives@sydgram.nsw.edu.au.

In Gallant Company

Dr Philip Creagh’s (OS 1965-1966) book honouring the Old Sydneians who died in World War I is available, at a cost of $65 plus postage via the following TryBooking link. No other school in Australia made such a contribution or suffered so many casualties in World War I as Sydney Grammar School. This book includes short biographies of each Old Sydneian who didn’t make it home, comprising details of their school career, the circumstances in which they found themselves during the war and events leading to their untimely demise.

A Continuing Tradition MGS v SGS

Jim Catlin’s (OS 1961) book outlining the history of the Melbourne Grammar v Sydney Grammar cricket matches is available, at a cost of $50 plus postage via the following TryBooking link. It celebrates the feats of players from both schools in the oldest continuing inter-colonial (interstate) cricket match in Australia starting in 1876.


AAGPS Games to Play out

Bob Grant’s (OS 1959) book on the origins and development of the AAGPS is available, at a cost of $40 plus postage via the following TryBooking link. It is a celebration of a unique institution which emerged in the late nineteenth century, and which has had a significant impact on many lives.

To finish this newsletter, here is another poem from Dr Bob Strum (OS 1950) who has taken up poetry writing later in life.

Fine Wine

Is it just a recurrent dream?
Why is it so repetitive?
Torn fabric, a dissolving seam
Telling me how I should live,
The same demonic forces stare
Into my face, with putrid breath
The slaves of Satan do not care.
They tell me I’m Lady Macbeth
No. This is not reality.
Why am I plagued by other spheres?
I wake and I know what awaits me.
The mist of Hades disappears
And yet I listen to the news:
Coronavirus reigns supreme,
There are so many lives to lose
And poverty destroys the team.

If you work hard and say your prayers
The shepherd guarantees reward,
The sinner dies and no one cares,
The gift of evil is the sword.
But that is wishful make-believe.
Cultures are born, all cultures die,
No justice. All of us receive
Random outcomes, both you and I.

I dream but in the light of day
The nightmare gives way to the dawn,
Some blessings may well come my way,
Perhaps my Soul will be reborn,
I live in hope. Faith will be mine.
When I wake up, I well might be
Intoxicated by fine wine,
There’s no other reality.

Dr Bob Strum (OS 1950)