Preparing for my 40-year reunion this year, I reached out to an interstate friend I had not spoken to in years. We reconnected instantly. We talked about the journey of our children, the death of his parents and reminisced about the day we climbed Diamantina Spur....the challenges of our heavy packs up that steep incline, the way the mountain teased us with its many false peaks until we finally summited, and the joy of the cup of tea and chocolate we shared as we marveled at the view from Mt Feathertop. Life is made up of many of these small experiences and Melbourne Grammar provides a broad range of opportunities to create and share such moments. This was the spirit that made the recent LGR Reunion such a success. Many of our OM events also provide this opportunity.
As President of the Old Melburnians I am often asked why I do what I do. The answer lies largely in my belief that the Council can have a positive impact on our community, the School and the lives of many OMs, young and old. Mostly that involves creating environments for OMs to reconnect with old friends, or connect with new ones, or to relive special moments, or engage in something bigger than themselves.
Forums that generate laughter and fun. Forums that provide opportunities for reminiscence and, when needed, provide support. Forums that recognise and celebrate past and also, more recent, achievements. Forums that allow for learning and growth. I believe this is meaningful and motivating. In a globalized world where interactions can be fleeting and superficial, our relationship with the School and the deep sense of community that flows from our relationship with fellow OMs is increasingly important.
In my two years as President, I have had the opportunity to engage with OMs at many reunions, annual dinners, ANZAC services, regional and offshore dinners, business breakfasts, cocktail parties, business leaders speaker events and at special celebrations such as the Grimwade Centenary and the recent London Dinner. In addition, I have coordinated or attended AGMs, mentoring meetings, valedictory events and OM sporting and cultural events. We are a diverse community, but the common theme that persists across all these events is the strength of the connection between OMs and with the School.
Each year, across our range of events, we reach about ten per cent of the OM community. We have also made progress in other areas. These include our mentoring programme which will benefit 20 to 30 young OMs this year, our business breakfast has been cemented as a key event in May each year, and we have implemented an approach to financial management that mirrors other well run perpetual organisations. We have also managed to ensure all students upon leaving School become Life Members, if they wish, and we have committed to building closer ties with the School Council.
Overall, I believe the OM Society is in good shape, but we continue to ask ourselves: “What more could we be doing?”, “How can we better harness the ideas and energy of our members to benefit our community and the School?” and finally, “What role could the OM community play in an outward looking approach to social justice?” We will explore this theme further at the Annual Dinner on 6 September.
We welcome the ideas and energy of those willing to play a role.
Andrew Maughan President of The Old Melburnians