Cricket lover and Old Boy Spencer ‘Mo’ Witten scored a special century on 7 May, and the School and OBU representatives were thrilled to be at his 100th birthday in Barraba. Mo (TAS 31-32), believed to be our oldest Old Boy, shared some stories with the Headmaster Murray Guest; also present were three of his four sons: Robert (TAS 57-61), David (54-58) and Ian (68-73).
More Athletic record discussions!
John Myrtle (55-62) was most interested to read Ross Fulloon’s (54-59) communication in Binghi 166 concerning the fate of his under 17 mile record. “This has set me wondering about the fate of other old records. Old Boys of my generation will recall Ross Lane’s outstanding performance at the GPS carnival of 1962, winning the Open Mile in 4:22. This has set me wondering whether (when converted) this is the TAS open 1500m record or whether someone in the intervening 52 years has run faster? My calculation is the equivalent for the 1500m of a 4:22 mile time would be 4:04.2.”
Well John, indeed the current record for the Open 1500m is still Ross’ converted mile, and you are spot on with your calculation: 4min 4.2 seconds. While the Open Mile was officially retired in accordance with GPS and the International Amateur Athletics Federation guidelines, the converted time for the 1500m still stands as clearly no-one has run a 1500m faster.
John adds that in his final year at TAS, the new headmaster Alan Cash – himself a talented athlete – was determined the quality of the TAS GPS Athletics team improved.
“The squad that we took to Sydney in 1962 for the GPS carnival was quite outstanding. Ross Lane won the open mile in near-record time and came second in the 880. Richard How was second in the 220; third in the 100 and was second in the broad jump. The senior relay was third – a rare occurrence for a TAS team. Overall we came sixth out of the nine GPS schools, in the senior team competition.”
In this year’s Australia Day Honours List, David Williams (54-57) was named as a recipient of an Order of Australia Medal for service to the Singleton community. A life member of the Northern Agricultural Association (NAA) of which he joined in 1965 and was president twice, David has also supported a long list of other local organisations since his arrival in Singleton in the late 1950s, including Hebden Rural Fire Service, Singleton Chamber of Commerce, Singleton Rugby Club, the Anglican Parish of Singleton, Rotary Club of Singleton as well as serving as a councillor on the Singleton Council in the mid-1980s. In an article in the Singleton Argus, David cited TAS Headmaster Gordon Fisher and his father, a former rector at All Saints Anglican Church Singleton, for inspiring a sense of service.
Speaking of awards, Professor Edward ‘Snow’ Barlow (58-62) was given the top ‘gong’ in writer Jeni Port’s Sydney Morning Herald 2015 Wine Honours List, published the day after Australia Day to acknowledge those who have contributed in a significant way to the Australian wine industry. Snow was bestowed with the mock title Companion of the Order of Australian Wine, for services to the climate change and wine debate. “He might raise an eyebrow but never his voice…never too busy to talk and never too shy to stand up when something needs to be said. Professor Snow Barlow – plant physiologist, agricultural scientist, Melbourne University lecturer (retired), winemaker – has spent decades gathering and dispersing information about the effect of climate change on Australian vineyards. He is the first – and last – word on the subject.” We propose a toast to you Snow – Cheers!
Australian historian Alan Atkinson (58-63) was, in late January, awarded the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature for his third volume of The Europeans in Australia. The award is Australia’s most valuable single literary award. Twenty years in the making, the final instalment of the trilogy covers the period from the 1870s to the aftermath of the First World War. He told The Age newspaper he started work on the project more than 20 years ago, never thinking it would take so long. The judges said the “magisterial” third volume was “destined to be a landmark work in Australian historiography, as significant in its way as Manning Clark’s A History of Australia.”
Rev Chris Brennan (82-87) was officially installed as Vicar of Armidale and Dean of the Cathedral Church of St Peter on 2 March. The cathedral was filled to capacity for the happy occasion, with dozens of members of the broader TAS family present. Among those with formal roles in welcoming Chris were Cameron Moore (83-88), Dean’s Warden of St Mary’s West Armidale, and Cr Rob Richardson (69-74) representing Armidale Dumaresq Council. Chris had previously been Vicar of Holy Trinity in Glen Innes. Chris and his wife Samantha (ex PLC) have moved into the historic Deanery, also home to their eldest son Patrick (TAS, Year 7), daughter Natalie (PLC) and Andrew (Armidale City Public School).
Ian Croft (93-98) and his wife Del, of Taroom, Qld, welcomed into the world Owen Tomas Croft on 17 January. Ian is a vet in Taroom, enjoying country practice. Thanks to his mother Janet for passing on the happy news.
Best wishes to Sam Treloar (95-00) and his wife Alison (nee Laing, ex-PLC) on the birth of twins Thomas and Georgina on 28 November, 2014. Arriving five weeks early, they are doing very well and keeping their parents on their toes, according to proud grandmother Janet. Sam and Alison, who were married in the TAS chapel in 2010, returned to Tamworth three years ago. San leads the finance team at Joblink Plus, a not-for-profit employment services business operating throughout north-west NSW and the Hunter.
Lovely to hear news of the wedding of Ben Eveleigh (98-03) to Megan Lee Norris on 13 December 2014. The wedding ceremony was held at Megan’s old school Loreto Kirribilli, followed by a reception at Café Sydney, on the roof of Customs House. Ben’s parents Chris and Maria Eveleigh continue to be busy at ‘Dandloo’ Kentucky, growing hardy trees for farms, while older brother Peter (95-00) is a proud father of two.
Here and There
We’d love to hear what some of our Old Boys from the 1940s are up to. Drop us a line about your family, travels or interests, to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Binghi, c/ The Armidale School, Locked Bag 3003 Armidale 2350.
Nice to hear from Don McDonagh (46-51), who said he is piecing life back together after his house burnt down in August last year. While recently contemplating his time at TAS, Don was wondering if anyone knew what came of Henry Hoe (46), who was aged 17 when in Don’s year in Remove (the equivalent of First Form). “Henry, who was a Filipino I think, was years older than us, and rumour was he was a highly decorated child resistance fighter against the Japanese during World War Two,” Don said. “He was very modest and never skited about his experiences, but when he did open up, he had us just enthralled with his stories.” Don wondered if Henry came to TAS at the instigation of either staff members and ex-servicemen Brian Mattingley or Des Harrison, or indeed the Church? We’d love to know more.
Bob Wilson (54-57) known at TAS as Robert, Rob or by his nickname Audrey – came across the photo of Rick Gough (54-58) and Stephen Booth (54-58) leaning out of what Bob thinks was the sick bay window. The photo was most probably taken in 1955 or 56. “I haven’t seen Rick for around 15 years when he was in real estate in Dubbo. I keep in touch with Stephen by email and can report that while he has had some serious health issues is coping OK, playing the occasional game of golf, and has retired at Meringandan (near Toowoomba).” Bob says he is enjoying retirement at Merewether and playing plenty of lawn bowls and golf. “I also keep in touch with Peter McGlynn (54-57) who was my Best Man in 1966. Peter has also had some serious health issues but is all clear, and retired and living at Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast.” The photo, along with others he sent, will be added to the TAS Archives.
More photos of the school were sent by Bruce Moffatt (51-58). As well as a few of the front of the school when it was covered in wisteria (but not blooming), is a shot of Graham Willis (49-58), Ian Kiernan (52-58) and Graeme Hartigan (54-59) munching on some tomatoes growing in an ag plot on the southern side of Brown St. We wonder how many actually made it to the kitchen?
Two years ago Paddy Dwyer (64-70) and his wife quit their jobs, travelled the Caribbean, bought a yacht and sailed it back to Sydney, where they operate a yacht charter business, OzCat. Paddy writes that along with driving many of the biggest charter boats, a 12 hour day is quite the norm. “When I have time off driving my own or a few other boats I teach people scuba diving and underwater photography. Then if I really have any time off we have our portable home to travel around in! So it’s definitely no retirement, although many of my guests say I have the best job in the world – sailing on Sydney Harbour and getting paid for it.”
Peter Sanders (66-73, Staff 90-98) has moved to Mitchell’s Island, the largest of several islands at the mouth of the Manning River near Taree.
Great to hear from Les Witts (78-84), who combines contract farming in the Burren Junction and Rowena districts, with ownership of Country Style Lawnmowing in Port Macquarie. Les and his wife Fiona (daughter of ex-Australian cricketer Peter Philpott) have two daughters Eliza (18) and Monique (16), both talented hockey players. “I still play cricket and rugby when I get a chance, and enjoy a few beers with fellow Old Boys,” Les writes.
After beginning his teaching career in 2009, Nick Aggs (86-91) was the following year employed by the Shanghai United International School, where he is now the Director of Performing Arts and Head of Pastoral. Nick loves the hustle and bustle of Shanghai and lives in the Former French Concession with his wife Toni. Back in 1997 he and his brother Anthony (89-91) formed jazz fusion band Afro Dizzi Act, releasing a handful of critically acclaimed albums, touring internationally (including being the first western band to tour North East India) and nationally, and was voted JJJ top 10 World Music albums for 2008.
James Brown (92-95), now a London-based film producer, has had a stellar year, with actress Julianne Moore winning the Best Actress Academy Award for her role in his critically-acclaimed film Still Alice. The film tells the story of a middle-aged linguistics professor who receives the shock diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimers disease. James, with producing partner Lex Lutzus, bought the rights to the novel after his sister Caroline gave him the book to read in 2011, telling him she thought it would make a great movie. In her acceptance speech Julianne Moore acknowledged the vision and passion of James, who was in the audience to hear it.
Haldane Begg (97-07) has completed his degree in Medicine and has been accepted by St Vincent’s Hospital for his first internship. Meanwhile brother Angus (98-11) has completed a degree in Science (Electrical Engineering) at Melb University and has been accepted for post graduate honours. Thanks to their mother Sandra for this information.
James Bondfield (96-02) has moved from Bondi Junction to Lennox Head, where he works as a helicopter pilot. In the same day’s mail was a note from his former Warwick primary school and TAS classmate Tom Jubb (01-02), now a project engineer for Scentre Group Construction in Newcastle. Tom and his team managed the redevelopment of several shopping centres and other Westfield assets. Prior to that he had been with John Holland Constructions since graduating in Construction Management from Newcastle University in 2008. “I actually have Ben Perkins (96-02) to thank; he graduated in the same degree a year prior to me (I took a year off after school) and managed to get me an interview with the right person. Sometimes that’s all you need to be on your way.” Tom and his wife Jacqui have a daughter Annabelle, born in 2013. As to James Bondfield: “He’ll have to ditch his RM Williams for board wax and surfboard, living up there!!”
Lewis Crothers (03-08) has been posted to Townsville with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment which has moved from Darwin to help modernise the Army and move towards the plan to create three like combat Brigades, each with an Armoured Cavalry Regiment. Lewis writes: “It’s an exciting time in the Army at the moment – there’s lots of change happening and some great capabilities coming online.”
Joss Guyer (06-12) dropped us a line from his native England to advise he is now studying Outdoor Education at the University of Cumbria, and has developed a passion for mountaineering. “I have been in a documentary about the first ascent of the Matterhorn, which should be airing on BBC 2 shortly! During the 2014 summer I worked at a Swiss summer school as an activity leader and also a successful summit of Mont Blanc, amongst others.” Joss is using his attempt at the Matterhorn this September to raise £1,000 for the mental health charity Student Minds; visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jossguyer1 .
The TAS Board has announced, on 23 January, a two month consultation period ahead of a decision on opening up TAS to full co-education from Term 1, 2016. If it goes ahead, girls from Year 6 upwards would be able to enrol at TAS as day students or boarders, across all year groups from next year.
As part of this process, 20 consultation meetings will be held with Old Boys, current, past and prospective parents, and friends of the school, in Armidale, in various centres in regional NSW, in Sydney and in Brisbane.
The OBU Executive has been briefed on the proposal and is urging all Old Boys to attend one of these meetings to learn more about the proposal so they can make an informed decision and provide their feedback about it.
A special section on the TAS website, ‘Co-education Consultation Process’, has been created with a letter from the Headmaster, further background information about the proposal, a ‘Q&A’ document, and the dates and venues for the consultation meetings. The link to these web pages is below. This will be added to the OBU website in the next few days.
Feedback can be made by email to the link at the bottom of this letter, or by writing to Co-education Consultation, The Armidale School, Locked Bag 3003, Armidale 2350. Calls can be made to a special hotline number, 0487 549 477. A survey will also be available at a later date.
The school has stated that all feedback will be collated and analysed by the Board to assist it with making a decision about co-education on 31 March.
I encourage you to learn more about the proposal and then have your say on the future of TAS.
Please click here to go to the Co-education Consultation pages on the TAS website.
Feedback on the proposal can be submitted by email.
Dick Hays (41-46) and his wife Clare celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in September, with 30 relatives and friends – among them Keith Coulton (39-46) who made a valiant effort to attend, and Geoff Reardon (42) who was one of the many Sydney boys relocated to TAS during the war. Dick said the couple were delighted to receive congratulations from several politicians as well as the Queen.
Well done Randal Thomas (90-95) on his marriage to Amy Curtis on 25 October, in Armidale. The wedding brought together many TAS families, and prompted a reunion of several staff!
Guy Fitzroy (92-97) and his wife Kim, of ‘Avondale’ Delungra, are pleased to announce the arrival of their second child, Ruby, on 11 October. Rugby is a sister for Maggie, and another beautiful grandchild for Caroline and Brian Fitzroy (57-63).
Here and There
Paul Griffiths (53-61) made the trip from Turramurra to Wagga Wagga earlier this year for a 50 year reunion of the regional television station RVN-2 (now part of Prime7. A photograph in the local newspaper showed him catching up with fellow television identities Mel Grieve, Ray Dineen and Tony Cook.
Bob Gillard (60-64) has moved from Swansea to Taree, sharing a locality – and a PO Box – with his brother Greg (64-66). Since moving there, he says he has caught up several times with Bob Crossman (59-64).
Chris Davidson (66-70) of Tamworth is currently Principal of Andigen International, a technology company specialising in Environmental Consulting in the design and delivery of state of the art recycling and bio-energy technology.
After many years as a horse-whisperer based on the mid-north coast, Ken Scott (81) is now living near Uralla with his wife Hiroko, whom he met while working in Japan, and married 12 years ago.
Clearly talent runs in the family. Paddy Flower (62-63) sent a clipping from the Manly Daily relating to former Wallabies centre Richard Tombs (84-85) – not his success on the paddock, but that of his wife and three daughters, on the netball court. Richard’s wife Carissa was part of the 1999 Australian world champion team which has received the Team Sport Australia Award through the Sports Australia Hall of Fame. Daughters Latika and Talani both represented NSW at the national titles while the youngest, Ukiesha, starts playing next year.
Currently General Manager, Safety Systems with Virgin Australia, Stuart Aggs (78-88) was one of the keynote speakers at the Swinburne Aviation Industry Conference, Hawthorn Victoria, earlier in the year. Stuart has been with Virgin Australia since 2004, having previously been with Regional Express and Hazelton Airlines. His Master of Science in Aviation (UNSW) follows from his experience in general aviation and as a charter freight pilot and flight instructor – a passion he pursued after university at UNE. He sees both Bryn Griffiths (83-88) and Bill Bailey (83-88) reasonably often as they both reside in Brisbane.
Rowan Bourne 87-88 has been an electrical power systems engineer for about 20 years (after studying at the University of Newcastle), and is currently a power supply connection consultant with Electrical Network Design. He writes that he is happily married to Sharon and has five year old twin boys, Hamish and Oliver.
Nice to hear some months ago from Michael Stanton (85-90): “We are enjoying Florida’s weather and life by the beach in Juno Beach, Florida. I am now working for Ocwen Financial Corporation, one of the largest mortgage servicing companies in the US.“
David Kapcejevs (86-91) is a Business Development Manager with Ord Minnett and a key member of the Intermediary Services team. Prior to joining Ord Minnett, David worked at Perpetual as a Private Client Adviser, as a Technical Analyst at Sealcorp (ASGARD) and at Westpac Financial Services in both technical and advisory capacities.
Sinclair Croft (89-94) has been working as a heritage consultant with Graham Brooks and Associates for the past three years. While Sydney-based, his work takes him into regional NSW and interstate, working with developers on proposals concerning heritage buildings or within conservation areas. A keen swimmer at school, he has joined an adult training squad, and recently competed in an open water swimming event on Lake Erie, Cleveland, Ohio. Next year, he will be part of a relay team swimming across the English Channel.
Brett Spokes (89-94) is living in Muswellbrook and working in the mining industry.
Elton Clodumar (93-95) sent a lengthy email from his homeland Nauru, to where he returned after leaving TAS. In 2005 he became Pacific Islands Regional Fisheries Observer (PIRFO), reporting on the methods and haul taken by tuna fishing vessels. Two years later, he moved to Marshall Islands for five years, working as a PIRFO trainer, working with officials from several Pacific islands agencies including the Secretariat to the Pacific Community (SPC) and Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). He is now also involved in the Australian Awards Scholarships program on Nauru, keen to broaden his knowledge through tertiary study to further equip him to “become an influential individual, an asset to my country and to the limited marine fisheries resources that we small island nations are so dependant on”.
Nigel Henley (90-95) is keeping very busy, teaching several subjects at primary and secondary level at Bundarra Central School. He is also coaching the school’s senior girls touch football team, and reserve grade with the Inverell Highlanders RUFC: “I still play but am ready to give it away!” He and his wife Melissa have a daughter Emily, and sons, Alex, and Thomas.
The White old boys had their own private family reunion at a friends wedding in the Blue Mountains recently. Hadley White (92-97) is a senior design engineer with ResMed in Sydney; Edward White (95-00) is a doctor working in emergency in Tamworth; Anthony White (93-98) is a primary teacher at Bondi Public School in Sydney and (in front) Christopher White (91-96) is a newsreader with NBN based in Newcastle.
David Metcalfe (96-04), Andrew Paterson (99-04) and Luke Brattoni (99-04) are sharing digs in Artarmon.
Charles Cull (00-07) has joined the NSW Farmers Association as a policy adviser. A former Dux of TAS, Charles graduated with first class honours in commerce and arts from the University of Sydney. It was while writing his thesis on coal seam gas that he chanced upon research conducted by NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson – and on that basis, sought a job with the association. He is particularly interested in drought assistance policy and advocating against the introduction of mandatory electronic livestock identification tags for sheep and goats.
Congratulations and many thanks to Old Boys Nick Tuit and David Thompson who rallied the 1981 leavers, and Duncan McDonald (also a current parent) for herding up the ‘82s. With any luck, the ’83 and ’84 Old Boys will be wanting to make it an even better year for TAS, at the GPS Gold Challenge in 2016!
To learn more about the GPS Gold Challenge, click here
To view photos from the event, click on the image below.
More record discussion!
Ross Fulloon (54-59) wrote to extend his congratulations to Joe Makeham on his wonderful run in the 1500m at GPS Athletics and add to the discussion about records (Binghi 165). “After reading Old Boys’ Notes in the latest edition of Binghi, I would like to respond to a contribution under the heading ‘Records past and present’, and point out that in 1958, the distance run for the mile was the Imperial mile, for which I recorded a time of four minutes, 44 seconds. Subsequent to the changes to metric, this time was, without my knowledge, changed to four minutes, 24 seconds (approximately), and used as the 1500m record. I am not aware of what formula was used to convert this time.” Many thanks Ross for your clarification!
Is this the first time a TAS Old Boy and a TAS Old Girl have married? Susannah Warrick (TAS Junior School 92-98) and Tom McCarthy (02-04) announced their engagement in July.
While of the same cohort, Susannah (daughter of Will, 62-67 and Pip, the TAS Registrar) had moved on to continue her secondary education at PLC when Tom started at TAS – so they didn’t meet until 2002 when both were organising their respective school contingents in the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic. For the past two years the couple has been living in Alice Springs, where Susannah is a lawyer with a firm in town and Tom is a charter pilot. They love the Red Centre and are amused at their very unique TAS alumni status!
Congratulations to Hamish Barnet (00-08, Dux ‘08), on recently being conferred the University Medal for Mechanical Engineering from the University of New South Wales. Graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering with First Class Honours (his thesis, in the field of nanomedicine was entitled ‘Optical Properties of Nanoparticles for Tumour Hyperthermia’), Hamish has had an exemplary scholastic record at UNSW, having previously been awarded Dean’s Awards from the Faculty of Engineering (2013), Australian School of Business (2011) and the Faculty of Science (2010) as well as completing a Bachelor of Commerce with Distinction. During his time at university Hamish was a recipient of a Leighton Rural Scholarship in Business, a merit-based scholarship for rural students undertaking a business degree.
On completing his studies he worked for three months gaining experience in project management and design experience in the resources and manufacturing unit of engineering management company Aurecon.
Currently travelling in Eastern Europe, Hamish has signed a contract to work as a mechanical engineer with the defence and government division of international engineering consultant group Beca. Inspiring achievements, Hamish.
More accolades for Boggbri cotton grower Andrew Watson (83-88) and his wife Heike, who were presented with the 2014 Brownhill Cup at AgQuip in Gunnedah in August. The Brownhill Cup recognises innovative farming practices that improve sustainability, productivity and profitability in agriculture. Managing water usage is a challenging issue for Andrew, and has been central to the success of his family’s 3,000 hectare operation. Moisture sensors and crop canopy heat sensors are helping determine water requirements and lateral move irrigation systems have also been introduced. At the same time, the Watsons focus on ‘soft’ chemistry and pest management methods. The Cup comes with $2000 prizemoney.
It’s a small world… whilst competing at an international showjumping event in France in July, Rowan Willis (92-97) was asked by a fellow Australian who heard his accent, where he was from. ‘Armidale’ was the reply – thus started a conversation between Rowan and Stewart Mitchell (81-85). Now living in Berkshire, Rowan has been based in the UK showjumping for the past 15 years – “A gap year that hasn’t ended yet,” says his father David Willis (62-66) who went over to support his son and organised this photo of himself with Rowan (on the left) and Stewart. “The two star event was held in the former moat of the historic Citadel of Blay, in the Aquitaine region. It really was quite magnificent,” David says.
Stewart, now a showjumping coach based in Ireland, was there supporting one of his pupils from Thailand.
Congratulations to photojournalist Matt Bedford (96-02), for winning the community portrait award at this year’s PANPA newspaper awards. His photo Girl and Her Horse featured Bronte Dagg with her horse, Smithfields Toy Dancer. Matt has recently left his job as senior journalist at The Armidale Express and is now at The Canberra Times.
Here & There
A school service trip to Yipirinya School ) provided a TAS reunion of sorts. Among the TAS delegation were) Tim Hughes (78-82, Staff), Tim Moffatt (78-83) (far right) and current parent Greg Treavors (centre), who enjoyed sharing TAS news with Yipirinya Principal Ken Langford-Smith (TAS Headmaster 87-98) and Yipirinya Counsellor James Howey (TAS Counsellor Brother James, 97-06).
Ben Bartlett (90-93) contacted us with “a quick message” to say he has spent the last year working in Cambodia shooting a feature film to help local children. “Please have a look at our Facebook page www.facebook.com/acambodianwinter and feel free to tell others about our endeavours as we are trying to get the word out about this fantastic project,” he writes. All the best of luck with it, Ben.
While holidaying in North Queensland, staff member Geoff Derrin was most surprised to find that Joe Lord (02-07) was managing the restaurant at the Tropical Garden Motel, where Geoff was staying. Joe has been there for several years and thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Melbourne Old Boys Dinner
Old Boys spanning four decades came together for drinks and dinner at Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne on 5 September. They enjoyed meeting the Headmaster and hearing more about the school now, and sharing memories of their own time at TAS.
Among those from the 1980s at the event were Matthew Nash (82-84) who runs an import/export business in Melbourne, MAJ Tim McDonald (ret’d) (77-82), now a logistics consultant, and Dr Lawrence Harvey (82-83), an associate professor in sonic architecture at RMIT. Others at the dinner were Jim Jones (57-65), Sal Molesworth, Tim McDonald (77-82), retired architect Peter Dale (41-46), Robyn Stretch, Cressida Mort (Director of Development), Roger Stretch (41-46) retired BHP executive, Headmaster Murray Guest and Jenny Jones.
The TAS OBU Inc Sydney Branch AGM will be held at Club Willoughby, 26 Crabbes Ave, Willoughby, Mon 22 Sept 2014, 6.30pm.
All Old Boys are welcome to attend, and contribute ideas for alumni events and networking opportunities in 2014-15.
Please email apologies to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
He is perhaps best known for starring in international productions of Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, but for Peter Cousens, the newest challenge has been directing an Academy Award winning actor in his first feature film.
Tamworth born and educated at The Armidale School, Peter Cousens latest venture is the big budget slavery film Freedom, which will have its Australian release on 21 August.
“It was really thrilling directing a feature film. Coming from another discipline in the performing arts, primarily from music, acting and producing, I was lucky because I was surrounded by some really wonderful people,” he said.
These “wonderful people” included Oscar-nominee cinematographer Dean Cundey (Jurassic Park, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and Oscar winner, Cuba Gooding Jnr.
“I was challenged by the notion, the experience of directing Cuba Gooding Junior,” Cousens said.
“Here I am on the set where I’ve actually got to say to him, ‘I’d like you to do something different’ – and it did run through my mind, ‘hell’s bells, here I am, a boy from Tamworth, directing an Academy Award winning actor.”
Born into a creative Tamworth family, Cousens’ passion for performing arts was nurtured during his six years boarding at TAS, where he performed in everything from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas to serious drama.
“I shall always be grateful to TAS, not only for the opportunities and encouragement it gave me in music and drama, but also for the values it inculcated in preparation for a rewarding life,” he said.
Cousens –who is also executive producer and has a cameo in Freedom, which also stars his daughter Daisy – said he was inspired by the subject matter, which tells the story of two men separated by 100 years who are united in their search for freedom.
In 1856 a slave, Samuel Woodward (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and his family, escape from the Monroe Plantation near Richmond, Virginia. A secret network of ordinary people known as the Underground Railroad guide the family on their journey north to Canada. They are relentlessly pursued by the notorious slave hunter Plimpton (William Sadler). Hunted like a dog and haunted by the unthinkable suffering he and his forbears have endured, Samuel is forced to decide between revenge or freedom.
One hundred years earlier in 1748, John Newton the Captain of a slave trader sails from Africa with a cargo of slaves, bound for America. On board is Samuel’s great grandfather whose survival is tied to the fate of Captain Newton. The voyage changes Newton’s life forever and he creates a legacy that will inspire Samuel and the lives of millions for generations to come.
“I wanted to infiltrate American filmmaking and try and make films that change people’s lives, by reaching a whole lot of people in a very powerful way.”
Freedom opens in Australia on 21 August, with screenings in his hometown of Tamworth. Armidale audiences will be treated to the film screening at the Belgrave Cinema 22-23 August.
Please click on the image below to view the trailer.