Opening and Blessing Speech - 25 October 2019
Staff, Students and Invited Guests.
Thank you for attending our Opening and Blessing of the Edmund Rice Building Refurbishment and Extension. It is fitting that we gather today on World Teachers’ Day.
This building project is the realisation of a dream that started with former Principal, Mr Brendan Lawler. At a time when money was tight in the wake of a global financial crisis, he and a few others dared to dream. They formed the St Edmund’s College Foundation with the sole objective to raise funds for the restoration of ‘The Brothers’ Residence’, as it was known.
Thank you Br Ted Magee – a Christian Brother and much-loved former Principal of the College – for sharing some of the stories of life in ‘The Brothers’ Residence’. When the last Brother left in 2004 the building was converted into office space. Yet the need for a major restoration remained and was further exacerbated when the building was vacated in 2015. The work of the College Foundation to initiate and sustain a fundraising program for this purpose cannot be understated. I acknowledge Mr Gerard Pender who was the first Chair of the College Foundation when it was created eleven years ago and has faithfully remained so since.
When Mr Chris Leadbetter was appointed Principal in 2014 he quickly set about building on the work of Brendan and commissioned ABM Architects to develop a College Master Plan with the Stage 1 Project prioritised as the Edmund Rice Building Refurbishment and Extension. I thank Mr Peter McCabe from ABM Architects, who as chief architect of the project came up with the final design and oversaw the project from start to finish. When you go for a tour you will see for yourself the extent to which Peter ensured the finished product was nothing short of high quality.
Overseeing the project on behalf of Edmund Rice Education Australia and in support of the College is our Project Manager Ms Carol Dowd. Carol provided expert advice during the final design stages and throughout the highly competitive tender process culminating in Hutchinson Builders winning the tender. Carol is also our Project Manager for the Open Learning Centre and continues to support us in the next stages of the College Master Plan. In these matters I thank the EREA Board, the Executive Director EREA, Mr Wayne Tinsey and our Regional Director Northern Region, Mr Peter Chapman for assisting the College throughout the process.
Hutchinson Builders arrived on site and after some further design refinements construction started in August 2018 and was officially completed in April 2019. I would like to thank Mr Greg Quinn CEO of Hutchies and his fantastic team including Mr Jamie Washington, Mr Jack Pembroke and Mr Hayden Walker. Throughout the project they were superb to deal with and delivered above and beyond our expectations. Their involvement with many local Ipswich subcontractors has assured the quality outcome you see today. I also thank Mr Scott Carroll, our Property and Services Manager, who provided daily support to the Hutchies team and was integral in keeping the project on target and within budget.
The total project budget was $3.8M which included the new Year 12 area. With the frugal eye of our College Business Manager Mr Tony Skippington on the job, the project was completed under budget at $3.4M. I thank the St Edmund’s College Foundation for their $500,000.00 donation which came mostly from funds raised through ten years of Foundation Dinners and Eddies Race Days. $300,000.00 was donated by the Parents and Friends and I acknowledge Craig Wright, P&F President and his team for their tireless effort raising funds from countless Eddies Discos and the annual St Edmund’s Car Art Union event. It is appropriate to single out Ms Kath Creedy who has been the mainstay for all these major fundraising ventures. Thank you, Kath.
It is prophetic that 127 years ago ‘The Brothers’ Residence’ which we now refer to as the Edmund Rice Building was funded by parishioners of the St Mary’s Parish at a cost of 1,192 pounds, 17 shillings and 6 pence, which equates to about $190,000.00 today. They were community-minded people who wanted to put their hand in their pocket to contribute to a project that they believed was worth supporting. This building project too was funded by the generosity and sacrifice of community-minded people. There was no government support (and understandably so). All money came either from savings accumulated from the College Building Fund Levy and the two generous donations from our Foundation and Parents and Friends Association. We did not borrow a cent so the project has been fully paid for by the community. Well done to all involved.
We have the St Edmund’s College Mothers Past and Present to thank for the Celtic Cross which is positioned so prominently at the top of Jim Smith Drive and welcomes all to the College. It is a symbol of the enormous contributions that the Mothers of St Edmund’s students have made in developing a true school community. It speaks volumes that many mothers remain involved in the St Edmund’s Mothers long after their sons have graduated and it is especially pleasing to have their representation here today for the Blessing.
To conclude, I refer to the final paragraph in the preamble of the booklet.
In the 127 years that the Edmund Rice Building has adorned the Ipswich vista it has been a constant reminder of the faithful service of all who have been associated with St Edmund’s College. It remains today as a sturdy and enduring symbol of the call of Blessed Edmund Rice to educate the young so that Jesus may truly live in their heart.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Past St Edmund’s Mothers gathered at the Celtic Cross. Opening and Blessing of the Edmund Rice Building and Annex, 25 October 2019.
Live Jesus in Our Hearts - Forever
Diarmuid O’Riordan, Principal