I was told that if the school did not begin to “pay its way” the Province would have no option other than to ask the Diocese to take it over. At the same time, the CB Old Boys’ Association was still paying off the loan for the 1961 purchase of the property through ongoing car raffles and calcuttas.
A number of factors helped redeem the situation:
Parents and Friends
Led by entrepreneurs like Kevin O’Shea, and Frank Weaver, the school community rallied with extraordinary support, some of which included:
- Annual Fetes, when the Quadrangle was turned into a marketplace, and following wide advertising, seemingly most of Townsville attended to enjoy and support.
- Other functions like the Oktoberfest and the running of the Greyhound races. Alan Simmons will ever be associated with these activities.
- Taking on the cleaning of the Showgrounds each morning of the Annual Show when a couple of hundred students, parents, teachers. and supporters, armed with rakes and bags, left the grounds in pristine condition before heading back to school for breakfast (organised by Shirley Heitte and the Ladies Committee) and lessons. That was how the funds for the very first school photocopier were raised).
- Working Bees (a photograph in the Townsville Bulletin in 1984 showed a large number of parents and students with Victa mowers doing the lawns).
The hidden value in all these activities was the associated growth in our school community (student, parent, staff) spirit and ownership. IPC was “OUR” school and we are a real part of it!
- Rupert Coughlan, a retired accountant and prominent CB Old Boy, volunteered his services to “look after the books” for IPC. He continued in this accounting role for many years of most valued service.
- With the assistance of Professor Kevin Stark, IPC was awarded one of the largest Innovations Grants in Australia for Computer Technology.
- The Gedling family transferred their Leasehold of their Harvey’s Range property to IPC. This was subsequently made Freehold.
Prior to 1974, the Commonwealth Government was providing some funding for eligible Capital works and the IPC Library was one of the early recipients. In 1976, the Commonwealth began some funding for recurrent expenses on a per capita basis and this provided a lot of financial relief.
Enrolments increased and IPC became the school that most boys wanted to attend. The teaching staff generously took on larger classes while we waited for more classrooms and amenities to be built. With the assistance of Barry Mulligan -designer and builder - new classrooms were added, the Library and Staff Room were expanded and, later, the Olympic Pool was built.
When I left Townsville in 1979, the debt was larger, but the College was able to manage it.
Ten years later, I was appointed as IPC Principal again and it was like coming home. Some of the staff from my previous period were still present and it was great to have Ben Bonomini and Merv Smith as Deputies. An added joy was to be greeted by a large number (I think about 10) of IPC ex-students who were now back at the College as teachers. The beautiful Hall had been constructed and the grounds and facilities were second to none. The enrolments were high and the education program was well established. It was especially pleasing to see the VET courses going so well with a group of dedicated and competent teachers. Teachers like Nev Crossley and Len Voss come to mind.
The 25 years since leaving IPC have been spent in involvement with general administration within the Christian Brothers’ Province. Bursaring, Building Projects and membership of many Committees and Boards have kept me busy and interested. Early this year I retired from such involvement and am enjoying living in a Retirement Village in Brisbane with 13 other Brothers and about two hundred other residents. Together, we enjoy our togetherness, friendship and community. I am appreciating having more time to reflect, to read and just to be. Fortunately, I have been blessed with continuing good health and I am able to enjoy daily walks and exercise. It is a privilege to have such an opportunity.