Archdeacon John Geldart was presented with an Honorary Life Membership at the 2010 Annual Reunion Dinner for his significant contributions to the school, ongoing interest and commitment to enhancing the ethos of the school and the welfare of the students, and having identified closely with the objectives of the OGA.
It is the OGA’s honour to acknowledge and recognise the outstanding contributions of such a fine gentleman. Staff, students, parents and families, have all been fortunate to experience his direction, drive, compassion, commitment and unwavering dedication for all that is Girton.
We honour a wonderful man who has served Girton and our community on and off for over 42 years. At the beginning of his Ministry, around 1968, John had the responsibility to address the School every Wednesday morning when the students would march up the hill to what was All Saint’s Cathedral.
At Speech Night 2009 the Girton community bid John farewell following his decision to retire. Following are the eloquent words that Mr Clayton Jones used to describe this Girton treasure.
“I believe though there is much more to a good school that mere Annual Reports or the awarding of prizes to the worthy. How many of us – teachers, parents and students, old and young – can pass these tests:
- Have I given of myself – fully and wholeheartedly – in all my duties?
- Have I cared for others – and not just my friends?
- Have I pursued vigorously through selfless, honourable hard work the ideals of my work, family or school?
One man who, in my considered opinion, passes all the tests with honours, is Archdeacon John Geldart who has served since December 1992 this School, its students, staff and me in the most honourable, loyal and faithful manner consistent with his Christian philosophy which he not merely preaches but lives. Under difficult circumstances, he came into my office within days of my arrival in Bendigo and asked how he could help. I told him how and he did – beautifully. John retired from the Ministry a couple of years ago and will now stand aside from his Girton mission. On behalf of the Girton community, I thank The Venerable John Geldart for his outstanding service over seventeen years.”
Reflection: Girton over the years
On St Patrick’s Day in 1968 I was ordained as a Deacon in the Anglican Church. The very next day at All Saint’s Cathedral (now View Hill) I was introduced to the Girton College community, where in those days the boarders worshipped at All Saint’s every Sunday. It was a sight to see, all these girls clad in brown uniforms. It was my task to pick up all the paper plane’s that littered the church floor that had been made from the pew sheet. It was not until the Wednesday that I had my opportunity to speak to them when once again they marched up the hill to worship this was always a joy over the next two years.
I returned to Bendigo in 1986 and occasionally shared with some individual classes as invited to do by their teachers but not on a permanent basis.
It was not until Girton Grammar School was about to commence and I was invited to be involved with the school to provide a Christian input that new opportunities came along. This was an exciting time as the school was new and I had not had a ministry like this before. Speaking at assemblies each week created new challenges students and teachers made me feel welcoming.
With everything new it meant that it was necessary to design a service of worship for the first Foundation Day service to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral as well as prepare a sermon for the occasion. I was aware of the tension between the school and the church and this was understandable. The service was a wonderful occasion as has been all those that have followed. None of the three venues have detracted for the occasion however the size of the congregation has continued to grow.
The same procedure followed for the Carol Service beginning at St Paul’s until it was necessary to have each school house attend one of the churches in the city. Although it would have been good to keep the school together here was an opportunity for the school community to impact on the wider church community.
The development of the Valedictory service for year twelve provided me with the privilege of leading students in a time of thankfulness to God for the school and all who had supported them, teachers and parents, during that time.
As the school grew and new buildings were opened there was a time in proceedings when it was possible to ask for God’s blessing upon all who would use the new facilities.
Upon retirement it seemed that it was time to make way for a younger person and I thought that that would be the end of my association with the school, however The Old Girtonians Association put an end to that and I am grateful for the honor they bestowed on me.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the school and my God.
Girton may you stand forever!
John W Geldart