Breakfast is split into two groups because there are so many of us. The boys are down at 7.30am and the girls have an extra half an hour and are down by 8am. Breakfast is disappointing and is only cereal and toast and is not as we have agreed with the travel company-I will need to take it up with them on our return.
After breakfast we meet at 8.45am and make the short walk down to Circular Quay. It is a beautiful sunny morning with temperatures likely to be around 20C during the day. The good winter weather only goes to reaffirm my view that Sydney is the best city I have ever visited.
We walk around the harbour to the jetty where the jet boating is to take place. It takes place in 4 slots with the first going off at 9.30am and the fourth at 10.15am. The trip takes 30 minutes and when each group returns they all look as if they’ve taken on board a lot of water but nevertheless, seem exhilarated and to have enjoyed the experience. Will Griffiths tells me it was “much better than I expected.”
Mrs O’Sullivan takes Alfie Woodcock and Matthew Davies to the police station to report the loss of their phone and earphones respectively. Mr Meredith and Ollie Freeman take a taxi to collect the passports and Ollie’s ‘bum bag’ that had been left there yesterday.
Once all the groups have completed jet boating we reassemble on the steps of the Opera House and take photographs of the group both with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in the background.
We want the whole party to transfer to the hockey game to support the team but only have one coach organised to transfer the team. We ask our ground agent if it’s possible to book a second coach, he says ‘yes’ but that there will be a charge of $1,300 (£750). We say we are not prepared to pay that-had they organised things more appropriately we could have played hockey at Mater Maria and would not have required to transfer the group today. They agree with that and organise a second coach.
We arrange for everyone to be back at the hostel by 4pm to allow us to transfer to the hockey, which gives everyone about 4 hours to get some lunch and then some real ‘retail therapy’. Our ‘troops’ give the shops of Circular Quay and the famous ‘Rocks’ area a real battering-I dread to think what our case weights will be in Sydney airport tomorrow.
Everyone is back in the hostel by 4pm and we have also spoken to them about providing a cooked breakfast tomorrow morning as we will be travelling later in the day. It will cost us $830 which we will pay from our central tour fund and then take up with the travel company on our return.
The hockey team changes into its kit and those who are supporting wear their No 1s as we will go directly to the restaurant ‘Ribs and burgers’ for the end of tour dinner and presentations after the game.
We arrive at Ryde hockey club at just after 5pm and the game starts at 5.45pm. Our girls make a slow start against a very skilled team and trail 4-0 inside the first quarter. However, the introduction of the three year 11 boys plus the vocal support of the rugby and netball players spurs the team on and they reduce the deficit with a goal before half time. The second half is evenly contested and scoreless and at full time it’s a 4-1 defeat, but again another encouraging performance.
After brief presentations, we depart, the supporters go straight to the restaurant and the team drop their kit off at the hotel and then join us.
At the restaurant we enjoy a beef or chicken burger with chips, salad and a drink. Arianna Yadollahi tells me it’s the best burger she’s ever had.
After the meal, I send most to sleep with my ‘End of tour reflections’ as below before we make the presentations.
Well what a 3 weeks it has been. I said when we set out 3 years ago that ‘successful touring is hard work.’ Well now’s the time for you to make that judgement as to whether it has been a success, both for you as individuals and for others.
I don’t judge a tour’s success by results on the field. It is about people, it is about relationships, if at the end of the tour, you have gained the respect of others for the way you have contributed to the team, then in my opinion, the tour for you has been a success.
You have been a fantastic group of young people-easily the best of the 8 groups that have gone on our Southern hemisphere tours. Off the field, you have evolved as a team as the tour has progressed, you all bring something different to the group, and each one of you contributes to the team so that the sum of the whole massively exceeds the sum of the individual parts.
Some of you bring humour, some bring practicality, some bring leadership, some bring a concern for others, some bring hard work and some bring a sense of responsibility. All of these are important and all are valued. There are very few people who possess all of those qualities but if a team works effectively, the individuals with each of those strengths contributes their part to make the group stronger.
As a group of staff we are very proud of you. You have earned our respect, for the way you have acted, with a responsibility to the team, and a concern for others. Beware though: – Respect is hard earned, and often takes years to achieve, but it can be lost in an instant by a foolish or selfish act that brings either yourself or the group into disrepute.
I don’t believe that education is solely about examination success in the courses you do. For me, education is a journey that helps you to develop as a person who can play his/her part in all of the teams you will eventually become part of. It is a never ending journey-I myself am still learning. Whilst we continue on that journey, you will gain qualifications that will act as an indicator to others of your academic ability. But few employers today are concerned solely with your academic standing. They want someone who has had a rounded education and who can add to their ‘team’ in the workplace. Experiences like those of the last 3 weeks undoubtedly support individuals to achieve that rounded education.
Many of you have reached a crossroads in your education and will be considering and selecting your next step. Choose that next step carefully, not on the basis of facilities and courses, but on an institution’s ethos and its people.
I believe in 6th forms, and the broader education they offer and as a result the wider skills they help you to develop-for those of you in year 11, I firmly believe that there is no better place to develop those skills than at Gowerton School.
But back to this tour, you may not realise it now, but I believe you may have learnt more that will be of value to you in the future, over the last 3 weeks, than you have learnt previously in anything else you have ever done.
You will make your own call, on whether or not the tour has been a success for you. If it has been a success-why has it been so?
For 2 reasons;
Firstly, the staff team has been the best and most hard working of any from this or the 7 previous tours.
Mr Cullen has brought a self effacing nature, a willingness to ‘sweep up’ and a keenness to keep an eye on me.
Mr Lewis has brought the experience of both being a student and a staff member on previous tours, a calm assurance, a willingness to do the mundane with the minimum of fuss, and a determination to see things through to their completion.
Mr Meredith has brought the technical expertise with ICT that has been invaluable, a willingness for hard work and a sense of responsibility. In years to come, you will be able to look back in detail at your experiences during these 3 weeks thanks to his efforts.
Miss Morgans has brought a concern for others, humour, humility and self deprecation. She doesn’t need to be so unassuming-she has much to offer.
Mrs O’Sullivan: a calm assurance, and a positivity that makes us feel, that whatever we are doing, is the right thing to do, and of course the financial management that has seen that part of the tour run so efficiently both prior to and then while we’ve been away.
Miss Preuss has brought the energy and enthusiasm that serves to revitalise us all when we are flagging, as well as the ability to type and adapt my scrawl into something that makes sense as the tour diary.
Mr Thomas brings experience, personal support for me and of course the good humour that can make any mini ‘disaster’ seem like a victory.
Miss Vaughan has brought experience-she came as a student in 2009, effective and efficient organisation of our social media and the technical expertise that has been a great support to the hockey team.
Peter Cort has been a constant support not only as a First Aider but as a parent who shares the ideals we hold so dear.
All have been important, all have contributed, and without anyone of them, we would not have been as strong and effective as we have been.
They deserve your thanks.
Secondly and most importantly, the tour has been a success because you have bought into its ‘aims’. It has not been about personal gratification, it has been about the team, it has been about putting yourself second and being concerned for others.
It has not been a straight forward journey, some including me, have made their mistakes- I too am still learning. But it is important to learn from those mistakes, move on, and become a better and wiser person as a result. Those are the lessons that life teaches us.
I have no doubt that each one of you, as a result of the experiences and challenges you have encountered whilst we have been away, will return home a much better and wiser person than the one that left Park Road on July 20th.
One thing is certain, there will always be a special bond between you as a group, and that bond will last forever. I regularly see former students in town, or at sports events. All they ever want to talk about is the tour they went on, and the experiences we had together.
I will conclude by quoting a Maori proverb I first heard on our tour to New Zealand and Fiji in 2003-it is something that still resonates with me, it is;
If you were to ask me, what the 3 most important things in the world are, I would reply;
It is people, it is people, it is people.
What is important, is not the things you saw or did in Cape Town, at the Game Lodge on the Garden Route, in Brisbane, on the Gold Coast, in Cairns, or in Sydney. It is the people you shared those things with, the new people you met, and the relationships you developed with them.
I hope that as a result of this tour, you will realise that real contentment comes not from material processions, but from earning the respect of others.
You have earned our respect,
You have earned my respect.
The tour awards are then made to the following…….
Mr Lewis makes the presentations for under 18 rugby
Player of the match:
v All Saints: James Northey
v Gold Coast: Leon Bevan
v St Augustine: Joe Richards
v Mater Maria: Reid Davies
Players’ Player of the tour:- Joe Richards
Player of the tour:- Iwan Jones
Miss Vaughan makes the presentations for hockey
Player of the match:
v Parel Vallei Ashleigh Coppin
v All Saints: Amy Tomkins
v Lindisfarne: Niamh Bradley
v St Monica’s: Seren Howells
v Ryde Hc: Sam Terry
Players Player: Fern Evans
Player of the Tour: Seren Howells
Most Improved: Chloe Collins
Miss Morgans and Miss Preuss makes the presentations for netball.
Player of the match:
v Parel Vallei: Natalie Edwards
v All Saints: Leah Hyatt
v Gold Coast: Megan Nicholson
v St Augustine: Arianna Yadollahi
v Mater Maria:Lucy Steadman
Players’ Player of the tour:- Lucy Steadman
Most improved player of the tour:- Grace Andrews
Exceptional performance: Brianna Richards and Niamh Bradley
Player of the tour:- Megan Nicholson
Captain’s player of tour: Leah Hyatt
Mr Cullen makes the presentations for under 16 rugby
Player of the match:
v All Saints: Vikran Sanghera
v Gold Coast: Ioan Thomas
v St Augustine: Henry Aiono
v Mater Maria: Gavin Williams
Players’ Player of the tour:- Ben Cort
Player of the tour:- Ryan Stagg
After some kind words by Mr Thomas and Iwan Jones to myself followed by a presentation of a shirt and a book with messages of thanks from the group-something I have held very dearly from each of the other touring groups.
We return to the hostel and are in our rooms by midnight with mixed feelings-sorry that our adventure is almost at an end, but looking forward to seeing our loved ones again.
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