Day 19: Friday 9th August

Our last day, no problems overnight. We are up at 6.30am and everyone is in breakfast by 7.00am.
Good news overnight for Swansea Cityfans. A 0-0 draw at Malmomeans they are comfortably through to the next round of the Europa league. Not such good news for Coventry City fans-the 10 point deduction for still being in Administration is followed by 3-2 defeats at Crawleyand Orient. How times change, not too long ago, Coventry were mixing it with the elite in the premier league and the Swans were playing League 2 fixtures at the Vetch. On Saturday it’s the Swans who entertain Manchester United-Good luck to them. I think a long hard season beckons for Coventry City fans.
The coach collects us at 8am to take us to the reef terminal. Our driver Bob, compliments our students on both their punctuality and manners and we arrive at the terminal at 8:20am. The catamaran is to leave at 9am and it is a 90 minute journey out to the reef.
Miss Rushworth recalls from our 2006 visit that lots of the party felt sea sick by the time we reached the reef (you may remember the photo of me ‘not looking too good’ in the final parents meeting). We purchased 6 boxes of ‘Quells’ at a cost of $60 from the contingency and give everyone one at the terminal.
We are on board the ‘cat’ by 8:30am and are given complimentary tea and coffee. We depart at 9 am; it is a beautiful day 27C and a very flat sea. Either the conditions or the tablets work, and when we arrive at the reef everyone is in good health.
During the journey we are given some safety and educational talks. Snorkelling around the pontoon and trips on the submersible and glass bottom boats are included in the price. A number of additional excursions are offered. Scuba diving at $120 (£80), snorkelling tours $45 (£30) and helmet walks $70 (£50) were all options. They all seem expensive to me but many of our students opt to take part in them- quite a lot still seem to have plenty of spending money available.
21 opt to do scuba diving, Mr Walters takes a group on the snorkelling tour and Brittany Jenkins and Rachael Williams do the helmet walking. After they return I asked many of them if they had enjoyed it and if it was value for money- it was an undoubted ‘Yes’ from them all; that was a relief to me.
I went snorkelling around the reef both before and after lunch. It is a great experience, but my impression was that there were less fish and they were less colourful than when we visited in 2006, Miss Rushworth agreed. That did not seem to affect the enjoyment of our group, everyone was very positive about their experience. Ailsa Howells was really, really enthusiastic and there was a sparkle in her eye as she thanked me and the other teachers for giving her the opportunity to be there- I think mum and dad may have helped a little too.
We leave the reef at 3:30pm and there is much chatter amongst the group about their differing experiences. They had all had their photos taken during the day and were able to purchase them at $15 (£10) each. There were plenty of takers, particularly amongst those who had had their picture taken with Wally; a 1.4 metre fish who is a resident at the reef and was also there when we last came in 2006.
We arrive back at the terminal at 5pm and are back at the hotel by 5:30pm. We have arranged an end of tour dinner for 8pm at a cost of $1,500 (£1,000) which we to pay out of the contingency.
Students prepare for the meal- Marcus Besley has taken on the role of ‘Chief Ironer’ and irons many of the girls’ blouses, he is very popular.
We enjoy a meal of cauliflower, leek and bacon soup with warm rolls. We have a main course of roast chicken with roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, vegetables and salad. We then have a sweet of chocolate bread and butter pudding and a selection of fresh fruit.
After the meal we are to make the end of tour presentations and I conclude with my reflections of the tour, which are:
“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.
Has this tour been a success?
I don’t judge success by results. 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, tour has been a success for you.
You have been a fantastic group of young people- easily the best of the 6 groups who have gone on our Southern hemisphere tours. 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.
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 and selfish act.

I don’t believe that the most important aspect of education are the courses you do and exams you pass. Education is a journey that helps you to develop as a person who can play his part in all of the teams you will eventually become part of. It is a never ending journey. 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.

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.
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 5 previous tours.
Miss Jeffreys has brought humour, technical excellence and humility.
Miss Rushworth has brought experience, effectiveness and efficiency and a concern for others.
Mr Lewis has brought a calm assurance, a willingness to do the mundane with the minimum of fuss and a determination to see things to completion.
Mr Long has brought technical expertise with ICT that has been invaluable, a willingness for hard work and a sense of responsibility.
Mr Walters has brought a self effacing nature, a willingness to ‘sweep up’ and a keenness to keep an eye on me.
All have been important, all have contributed and without anyone of them we would not have been as strong and effective a team and we have been.
They deserve your thanks.
Secondly, 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 will return home a much better and wiser person than the one that left Park Rd on July 22nd, as a result of the experiences and challenges you have encountered whilst we have been away.
One thing is certain, there will always be a 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.
I will conclude by reminding you of the Maori proverb that still resonates with me;
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 Hong Kong, Sydney, Jet boating, Tamworth, Mooloolaba, Australia Zoo, Underwater world, Cairns, white water rafting and today at the Great Barrier Reef. 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 by earning the respect of others.
You have earned our respect
You have earned my respect”.
The tour awards are then made to the following…….
Players’ Player of the tour: – Hannah Breeze-Jones
Most committed player of the tour- Yvie Powe
Player of the tour- Hannah Williams
Players’ Player of the tour: – Gemma Evans
Most committed player of the tour- Elaine Tucker
Player of the tour- Bethany Davies
Players’ Player of the tour: – Callum Macdermott
Most committed player of the tour- Marcus Besley
Player of the tour- Joel Young
Tom Wedlake then presents me with a book with messages of thanks from the group. It means a great deal to me.
At the end of the presentations some of the students celebrate by jumping into the pool with their tour uniform on. There could be some wet clothes and shoes in the cases tomorrow. They then go back to enjoy each others company in their rooms until 11:30pm. Their behaviour continues to be almost exemplary.
I go back to my room to try and watch some of the 4thtest. Disaster!!! Although the cricket in on a ‘free to air’ channel, the hotel doesn’t have it. I have to content myself with looking on the internet for the score. Englandhave won the toss and are batting and at 82 for 1, have made a good start.

Tomorrow we start our 36 hour journey home.


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