Vale Nigel Creese AM

Nigel Creese AM

With profound sadness, the Melbourne Grammar School community acknowledged the death of Nigel Arthur Holloway Creese AM.

The School flag flew at half-mast for the remainder of that week. In the following reflection, I quote liberally from Roy Kelley’s announcement at the time, the Liber Melburniensis 1915 – 1995, and various other sources. 

Nigel was the eleventh Headmaster of Melbourne Grammar School, serving from 1970 until 1987. He is remembered for many fine qualities including his personal integrity and faith, his maintenance of standards and pursuit of excellence,  his adherence to fairness and consistency in all his dealings, and his capacity for hard work. He leaves a profound legacy of humanity and achievement to this School. 

Nigel Creese’s achievements at Melbourne Grammar were many and visionary. Under Nigel’s leadership, co-education began at Grimwade House, the Robert Knox Camp at Woodend was established, and curriculum innovations in numerous disciplines occurred. He also reorganised Grimwade House and Wadhurst, creating the framework for the current structure, and proactively sought to employ more female teachers at the School. 

His Headmastership was marked by a massive building and renovation programme with over thirty major projects undertaken; and, he was tireless in the fund-raising activities needed to support it. It was also synonymous with a wide expansion of Music and Drama in all parts of the School. And, of course, he introduced and directed the Quad Play for many productions and continued to teach Latin throughout his leadership at Melbourne Grammar. 

While Headmaster, Nigel was actively involved in professional bodies beyond the School including serving as Foundation Chair of the Association of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) from 1985 – 1987. Nigel established an exemplary reputation across Australia for his fine contributions to both the private and public sectors of education, which continued long after his retirement as Headmaster.

Much to our delight, Nigel remained in touch with the School, regularly attending, with his wife, Val, a variety of School events, including Quad Plays and even tutoring students in Latin. 

I had the privilege of visiting Nigel just before his death. He was an important man in my life. He was my Headmaster. He was also my ultimate boss when I taught for five years at Wadhurst. Despite his condition, his voice was strong and his mind was sharp.

He was particularly touched by a recent visit from the Captain of Creese House and the accompanying giant card of well-wishes from the House. I had great respect for and was very fond of Nigel, and told him so, and I am very glad that I had that opportunity. To quote Catullus, in similar circumstances, ‘ave atque vale’. 

With regard to personnel changes on the School Council, we farewelled Jim Cousins AO (OM 1961) in July. Jim served on the School Council from 2012 – 2018, and chaired the Buildings and Grounds Committee. He was also a Member of the Melbourne Grammar School Foundation Board from 2012 – 2017. Jim has been a dedicated, hardworking, considered, and exemplary servant of the School, providing invaluable insights across so many issues, as only a person of considerable experience can do. Of his many accomplishments, I am confident that Jim looks with the greatest of satisfaction upon the highly successful completion of the Geoff Handbury Science & Technology Hub. Jim was intimately involved in the Hub’s construction every step of the way. Thank you, Jim.

And, I am delighted to report that Andrew G Michelmore AO (OM 1970), has recently joined the School Council. ‘Ag’ has more than 35 years’ experience in the metals and mining industry. He spent twelve years at Western Mining Corporation, including 3 years as the CEO; and, he has been the CEO of the international mining company MMG Limited since 2009. He is currently the Chairman of the International Council on Mining and Metals (CMM), Chairman of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health and Chairman of Ormond College at the University of Melbourne. Welcome, Andrew.

Michael Bartlett Chairman