In our first Old Scholar feature we catch up with Peter Pudney (’09). Peter is an integral member of our very own Grounds and Maintenance team here at the College and has been a member of staff since graduating a few years ago. The Pudney name is synonymous with St Columba, with eight Pudney children being either current or past students of the College. It was great to catch up with Peter and speak with him about his time as a student at the College, his current role and his ambitions for the future.
“Officially I am a trainee groundsman,” says Peter when asked about his job description. “What I do changes from day to day, but I find the main role of being a groundsman is to make sure the yard is looking good and to assist anyone who needs it. I was initially quite surprised at the variety of tasks that groundsmen are involved in. We spend a lot of time assisting other members of staff who might need equipment moved, technical support or a range of other types of help. I find this one of the best parts of the job; I get to work with a variety of people every day and feel really involved in what happens here within the College community.”
Peter commenced his studies at St Columba in 2004 and was fortunate to secure his immediate post school pathway before his studies were complete. “I was offered my traineeship near the end of 2009 just before completing Year 12. The Grounds Department were looking to train someone in horticulture and I was recommended by Melissa Sherman, the Careers Counsellor at the time. I had an interview with my future supervisor Kerrin Thom and Business Manager Mick Hoopmann to discuss the opportunity. By the time exams came around I knew that it wouldn’t be the last time I was at St Columba. To the disbelief of many other students in my final year, I stayed.
“The Grounds and Maintenance team are unlike any other. They are the hardest working people I know. They have all influenced me greatly and I’ve learnt so much from them. They all bring something different to the group whether it be a trade or experience. I truly believe I am very lucky and privileged to work with such a great bunch of guys. I have learnt so much since school that has helped me to become successful. On my first day of work I had a talk with my supervisor Kerrin Thom who gave me some advice that has really impacted on me, and it’s something I will remember for a long time. He basically said to me that if I’m ever unsure about anything that I should ask. It’s better to ask a silly question than to make a mistake.”
Peter started work at St Columba in early January, 2010. “There wasn’t much of a break between my last day of school and my first day of work. It has certainly been an interesting experience working in the same place where I was a student, and one that not many people ever encounter. I’m often asked what it is like going from a former student to a member of staff and I’m never sure exactly what to say. It has definitely been an enjoyable experience, but it does bring its own challenges. My biggest challenge so far has been calling my old teachers by their first names and also seeing their human side. I wasn’t actually aware that teachers were human when I was a student!”
In the near future Peter will be turning twenty. By the time this happens he would like to have completed his Certificate 3 in Horticulture. “I finish my traineeship at the end of this year and from there I’m not exactly sure what’s in store for me. As well as my horticulture course I have also been studying Certificate 4 in Youth Work/Youth Justice. I really enjoy my job at the moment and love working in this community, but I do have a desire to broaden my options and I have a real passion for helping young people who perhaps need a little extra guidance. Certificate 4 in Youth Work/Youth Justice has reinforced for me that working with young people is something I may well be interested in down the track.
Often I work with students from the College who are given community service to do as a result of some poor behaviour choices and I have found my time with many of these students to be very rewarding. It has provided me with opportunities to practise some of the theory I have studied and hopefully I have been able to have a positive impact on the students I have worked alongside. “Being in one College for such a long time gives you plenty of opportunity to meet lots of great people and share many memorable experiences. One of my fondest memories was in Year 10 during 2008. A group of friends and I used to play basketball at lunch time. The extra special part about this was having a Japanese exchange student by the name of Mao Owada join us. He was lightning quick and used to run around everyone on the court with ease. He made us look stupid. He gave us a view on life from a completely different cultural perspective and I will never forget my time with Mao. “One of the teachers that deeply impacted me and always cared immensely about my progress was Brenda Caesarowicz. Her guidance throughout Year 12 made English my highest score of all the subjects I studied. I was never a great English student but when you have that sort of support from a teacher it inspires you to work really hard. I will never forget the support that Brenda gave to me.”
Despite his long hours and study commitments, Peter still manages to find a little time each week to stay in touch with some other Old Scholars whom he was close to at school. “I still catch up with my best mates from school. I see Ryan Oldnall, who was one of the 2009 Head Prefects, and also David Dyker, who left at the end of 2007 to pursue a career as a chef. My brothers and I have formed a social basketball team. Five out of my six brothers are in the team and the rest is made up of family friends. We have been playing basketball for a year and a half and we’re improving each week. Half of our team is 6 feet 1inch or taller so when it comes to rebounds, there are not many teams that can outjump us.” Peter also plays football for the Elizabeth Eagles.
“I play mainly at Centre Half Forward or in the Ruck. I have always enjoyed playing football, and represented the College every chance I got throughout school. Winning the Hickinbotham Cup against Xavier was a huge highlight for me. “Another great memory for me was being Faulkner House Captain in 2008 which helped my organisation and leadership skills. In the same year my sister Jadzia was the House Captain in the Primary School. At the end of the year we won the House Cup and it was really special to receive the trophy with Jadzia on behalf of our House. I think Mum was pretty proud that day. I am from a family of eight children. I value family greatly and believe there’s really nothing more important. At our peek in 2004 there were a total of six Pudney children attending St Columba.