Just as it found a way through the previous pandemic of 101 years past, the Old Paradians’ Association recalibrated in response to the enormous challenges posed by COVID-19.
With the exceptions of the February 12 and March 8 mid-week Luncheons at the RACV City Club - and the annual East Melbourne-Bundoora Bike Ride which coincided with Parade College’s Open Day on February 16 – all social events planned for 2020 were thwarted by the Victorian Government lockdowns imposed as the virus took hold.
By late March, when the cursed virus first cast its deadly shadow across the city by the Yarra, pre-planned functions - from the traditional mid-week monthly luncheons at the RACV City Club, through to the Veterans’ Lunch, High Tea and Business Breakfast events, and the Final-Year Reunions of 1960, ’70, ’80, ’90 and 2000 - were all abandoned.
But the Association improvised. In that same month, it activated its new online Business Directory in a soft-launch, with 22 Old Paradians taking advantage of the directory to promote their trades and professions in the first month – and in April its committee convened for the first time via video hook-up to plan for the uncertainties that lay ahead.
The Association also convened a series of webinars - the first involving the New York-based professional dancer Francis Lawrence (who discussed life in the North American epicentre of COVID-19 amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement) and the Melbourne-based psychologist and counsellor Stephen Fahey (who offered sound health advice to those living in isolation restrictions throughout the state).
Quarterly electronic newsletters, each carrying the latest Association happenings, were distributed to the 9000 members of the Old Paradian and Parade College communities who connected via www.oldparadians.com.au – and news was also conveyed to the Association’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter followers – more than 3600 across each of the social networks.
The Old Paradians’ sporting clubs also pushed on - the cricket club, headed by new President Peter Dias and Senior Coach Griffin Sprague; the football club by the newly-appointed President Leo Collins and reappointed Senior Coach (and Old Paradian) Phil Plunkett. Though the football club’s 2020 season effectively ended before it began, it enhanced its player pathway prospects for the future through the merger of The Old Paradians Football Club with the Parade/St Damians Junior Football Club to form the Parade Senior and Junior Football Club incorporated – with each entity to continue to operate under its existing name.
Many hard-working people continued to lend the Old Paradians’ Association their loyal support – amongst them Keith Sharkie through his commitment to the Association’s monthly luncheon, an on-going social fixture since 1936.
At Old Paradians Central, Kylie Hannam capably served the Association across all levels of its operations. And at board level the President Paul Shannon and his dedicated committeemen gave much of their time through troubled times for the Old Paradians’ betterment.
In closing, the Principal (and fellow Old Paradian) Andy Kuppe is deserving of the utmost gratitude for believing in the Old Paradians’ Association and its place within the Parade College community.
Tony DeBolfo, CEO