The Scots College Old Boys' Union

Presidents Address

Old Boys' President Mathew Collett's ('86) address to the graduating Class of 2019 at the Year 12 Final Assembly.

Good afternoon and it is my pleasure and honour to address the class of 2019.

I extend a warm welcome to all the parents, carers, grandparents and family here today. In particular, I welcome the Class of 2019 — this is truly your day.

Some of you know me as President of the Rugby Committee, some may know me as a mentor, some as a friend, some as a shoulder to cry on, and some of you know me as father of Hugo. However today I address you for the first time as President of Old Boys’ Union.

Today my address is to every single year 12 boy here today. 

First and foremost, I welcome you to the Old Boys Community and offer my support and guidance as you leave the sanctuary and shelter that the school has provided, as you enter the world of the somewhat unknown, sometimes confusing and the always unpredictable. 

Boys — this may come to you as a surprise, however you have not progressed to where you are today or achieved what you have achieved to-date, on your own. Your parents, your teachers, your carers and your families have stood behind you, stood alongside you and supported you to help get you where you are today. 

There is the constant support, the dedicated encouragement, the blind faith and the personal investment that has allowed you to achieve your goals. 

The people who believe in you and support you are the cardinal points on your compass.

They guide you down a noble path, and when you diverge, they help to put you back on track. 

So please join me and show your appreciation by thanking everyone who has believed in you in getting to this day.

Your true believers and your passionate supporters don’t just number the people in this room, nor do they stop at year 12…  Behind your existing family, carers and supporters, now lies the entire Old Boys Union… with over 13,000 Old Boys in our Union, and along with myself, you will find that we will mentor you, we will support you, we will encourage you and we will truly inspire you.

Our inspirational graduates are too many to name, so I wanted to mention a few that may inspire you. 

Craig Hassall, whose leadership of the Royal Albert Hall in the UK, brings inspiration to millions through artistic exhibitions such as the Proms. 

Lt Col Rowan Tink put himself on the frontline to defend our freedom on the battlefield. Lt Col Tink is a former SAS soldier who served in the 2nd Afghanistan war. Not only is he a member of the Order of Australia for his services to his country, he was also awarded the United States Bronze Star for his role in Operation Anaconda.   

In March 2002, 1,700 U.S. and Allied troops, jointly commanded by Lt Col Tink and 1,000 pro-government Afghan militia battled al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters as they successfully took their position in the largest battle in the war at that point.

Through his leadership and commitment, he helped lead this battle to a victory that defined the outcome of the war ahead.

The Bronze Star Medal is usually awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for heroic achievements.

However, he was recognised, and I quote, 

For his exceptionally, admirable achievement while serving as commander of the Australian Task Group. 

Lt-Col Tink's outstanding leadership, strategic and tactical proficiency, dedication to duty and commitment to mission accomplishment in a combat zone under the most extreme of circumstances greatly contributed to the success of Operation Anaconda.- Truly an admirable Old Boy.

And there are Old Boys like Professor Michael Arbib who are charting a course forward in human understanding of the brain and the prevention of cancer. 

There are also the quieter graduates that inspire me. Like our first ever Indigenous Scots boy, Douglas Grant, who joined our College in 1902. He graduated the consummate Scots boy: gregarious, talented and stubbornly committed to building a better tomorrow. 

Every bit a proud Scots boy, Douglas also stood as a proud Indigenous man. Little did he know that he was at the forefront of the brilliant indigenous program that we have today. 

There are others like the late great wallaby Ken Catchpole, who passed away in 2017. He debuted for the wallabies as captain at the ripe young age of 21 in 1961 and ended up playing 27 tests for his country. 

Even today he is widely recognised as the greatest halfback to ever play for Australia and in 2001, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) "For service to Rugby Union, and to the community."

So as you can see, no matter what industry you decide to eventually pursue… whether it be the arts, armed forces, science, medicine, finance, law, sports, education, more often than not you will find a Scots Old Boy of influence who can help you in your endeavours and support your dreams.

This is why the Old Boys’ Union exists — to inspire you, to empower you and to help you leave a lasting mark on Australian history. 

Your Old Boys’ Union is what you make of it, and I look forward to connecting with you throughout your time as a member and my door is always open.

Lastly, I commend you and I congratulate you for successfully completing year 12, and I wish you all the very best in your future, all the success in your lives and all the luck with your endeavours.  

Before I conclude, I would like to leave you with one of the most inspirational quote from President Theodore Roosevelt.

Teddy, as he was known, was president of the US from 1901 to 2009, he was the 26th president and he remains the youngest ever president at age 41.

He was famous for his quotes and his wisdom, however this one, in my view, sums up a Scots boy.

“The best decision to make in any given moment is the right decision. The 2nd best decision to make is the wrong decision and the worst decision, is to make no decision at all”.

Boys, never stop asking questions, never stop learning and never stop making decisions.

Thank you and Scots to the fore!

Class of 2019

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