Within the proud architecture of Melbourne Grammar, there sits The Old Melburnians War Memorial Hall. It was erected in memory of the 210 members of the School who gave their lives in the Great War, funded by Old Melburnians in honour of those who had fallen, and it was opened in 1928.
Honour in war time has always been a Melbourne Grammar hallmark. I want to mention one Old Melburnian, in that regard. Colonel William Donovan Joynt (OM 1904) – a student of the School in the first decade of the 20th century. In August 1918, a month in which the Great War remained in the balance, he participated in a battle at Herleville Wood at Peronne in France. For his most exceptional valour in that battle, he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
My purpose in telling this story is, however, about philanthropy. Since Federation, there have been 101 Victoria Cross medals awarded to Australians for the most exceptional valor in war. And William Joynt gifted his Victoria Cross to Melbourne Grammar.
Philanthropy is at the very core of Melbourne Grammar. The illustrations are myriad. Grimwade House, itself, of course – the gift of the four Grimwade brothers in 1917; or the generosity which permitted the Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership; and the Geoff Handbury Science and Technology Hub, each in this century.
And it is not only buildings and grounds. The Scholarship Program Melbourne Grammar offers is central to its culture: its values and beliefs. What I find most inspiring is the opportunities that these scholarships create. That moment when a boy’s life changes, when he and his family are told that, by reason of his excellence: in scholarship, in music or otherwise as may be, that he will become a student of this School.
For Melbourne Grammar is a wonderful place. It inculcates learning; and allows strong academic performances. It has an inclusive and successful sporting program. It has wonderful opportunities in music and in drama and in visual arts and in debating. It produces prospective leaders; it encourages community service; it applauds excellence, and it respects participation.
I have seen this in 12 years as a student; in 15 years as a parent; in my 12 years on the Foundation Board and my seven years on Council; and in other School committees on which I have been privileged to serve.
I have – we all have – however, a great responsibility. We have a responsibility to stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us, and philanthropically take steps to ensure that this School can fulfil its vision. Its vision in its Indigenous Program; its vision in Scholarships – and the opportunities which they provide; its vision in its 21st century buildings; and its vision for independence through its Endowment Fund.
The implementation of the vision is inspiring to countenance, but it is an enormous responsibility. The Melbourne Grammar School Foundation feels viscerally the responsibility. We look to the School community to permit its implementation. We look to each of you to give as you may. We do not all have Victoria Crosses to donate to the School, but we can all find our own way to contribute. The School is worthy and it very much appreciates the support from all who may offer.
Philanthropic Impact provides an overview of the generosity of our School community during 1 January 2019 to 30 September 2021. I hope you find the stories and information within it interesting, and inspiring.
Philip Solomon QC (OM 1986)
President of the Melbourne Grammar School Foundation