Old Paradian Alistair Wenn, a final year student of the College in 1987, has acknowledged the moment his old Geography teacher John Ramsdale set him on the career path.

Speaking at the recent Association Luncheon at the RACV City Club in Melbourne, Alistair, now a Senior Principal Landscape Architect with national planning and design practice Tract, told the audience that he had John to thank for pertinent advice at a critical moment in his final year.

“I consider myself fairly unremarkable, but I’d be one of the many hundreds if not thousands of old Paradians who have come through over the years and forged a career,” said Alistair, pictured here between the two Johns - Ramsdale and Joss.

“I look back on my time at Parade very fondly. Those years I spent there were extremely formative, and a little story I’d like to share today involved a very important moment during my time at Parade that set me on my path and career as a landscape architect.”

Declaring himself to be “a pretty average student”, Alistair conceded that his report card throughout most of his time at Parade reflected as much “and I put it down to not really knowing what I wanted to do in my life”.

“I got to a point in Year 12 when I started thinking I wanted to be a chef, but everyone was suggesting otherwise for this was the time before celebrity chefs. It was then that I had a chat with John Ramsdale as I was quite good at Geography,” Alistair said.

“I said to John: ‘What is it that I can do that is related to geography, but is not geography?’, to which he replied ‘Have you thought about town planning?’. I asked John what it was all about and he explained it to me.”

On the strength of that conversation, Alistair contacted the University of Melbourne and was duly forwarded a brochure which outlined the work of a town planner, environmental planner and landscape architect – “and from the moment I read that description of what a landscape did as a professional I knew that’s what I wanted to be”.

“From that moment onward I had a goal at the end of Year 12 – something to aim for – and was able to put my head down and study four or five hours a night and all weekend . . . and it was reflected in my record card,” Alistair said.

“At the end of Term 2, after my final year grades had been pretty average, I was literally able to turn things around in one term and I got to a point where I got a grade high enough to gain entry into the University of Melbourne.

“If I look back at the beginning of that year I wouldn’t have given myself a snowflake’s chance in hell of going to the University of Melbourne, so I have John Ramsdale to thank for that advice. It’s a story I related to him when I caught up with him at last year’s 30-year reunion of my class and it’s a story I’ve never forgotten.”

John, himself an Old Paradian and now member of the Association Committee, was in attendance for Alistair’s address, as was former accountancy teacher John Joss, whom Alistair also acknowledged.

As he said: “I have to thank John Joss, because at the end of Year 11 I was about to fail accounting, which prompted him to tell me: ‘I’ll pass you as long as you don’t do it in year 12!’. So thankyou ‘Jossy’.”

Alistair, who is based in Tract’s Southbank office, is calling on all Old Paradians currently working in or near the Melbourne CBD to avail an hour of their time to attend the Old Paradians’ Association Luncheon, which has been held on a monthly basis since 1936.

Old Paradians and non-Old Paradians alike wishing to support future Luncheons through 2018 are urged to book via the Upcoming Events section on the association’s homepage. Next month’s speaker is Fitzroy IT’s Business Development & Strategy Lead Justin Kelly (1998), who together with company Director and fellow OP Tim Jenkinson (1998) recently assisted with the redevelopment of the Association’s website.