Noel Purcell has paid the Bundoora Campus' Heritage Centre a welcome visit to hand over his old school blazer first worn 70 years ago - co-incidentally on the same day his name was being etched into a new Honour Board of Parade College Captains.
Having prearranged with the Old Paradians’ Association to drop the precious garment into the Heritage Centre on Wednesday morning, Noel arrived blissfully unaware that College Archivist Rodney Prusa was committing the inscription “1951 Noel Purcell” onto the board in gold leaf.
Somewhat taken aback by the serendipitous moment, Noel humbly accepted Rodney’s request to assist in completing the task of committing his name to the mahogany veneer.
“I’m delighted to see the College Captains Honour Board,” said Noel, pictured here wearing his blazer for the last time.
“If I recall rightly the original board hung from a wall at the ‘Old Bluestone Pile’ and when I joined the Old Paradians the men whose names were featured on the old boards were like apostles.”
In presenting the blazer to the Archivist, Noel recalled seeking permission from his parents in 1949 to source a blazer that he could wear in his final school years.
“I was 15 at the time and I can’t remember how I learned of the traditional stripe material, but there were no school blazers about back then, so I took the idea up with my mother, who was a seamstress, and she was totally supportive,” Noel said.
“We got ourselves organized and headed into London Stores on the south-east corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets. I remember that they measured me up and the whole thing was tailor-made – a striped blazer with bullion pocket badge, which was lovely, and that was it.”
The blazer is in remarkable condition – and for good reason too as Noel explained.
“The trouble was that a year or two after I got my blazer the new Principal Brother Carey introduced the green blazer, so I’ve probably only worn the striped blazer a dozen times in my life and one of them was to the Old Paradians’ Association’s Centenary Dinner,” Noel said.
“I’m getting on, so I felt the only place for the blazer was here (the Heritage Centre), to serve as some sort of record of days gone by.”
Noel’s blazer finds its place with others also previously donated by old friends like the late Bill Dunne (1944), the late Peter Venier (1949) and Francis Marzorini (1936), later Br. Marzorini AM.
It’s 70 years since Noel last wore the blazer to school . . . and it pleases him no end that it fits him as well now as it did then.
“I had eight magnificent years at Parade, from 1944 to ’51, and I’m forever grateful,” said Noel, a former Victorian Magistrate whose life in the legal profession spanned 47 years.
“I was very fortunate. I had great parents and I was loved . . . and the principles of Parade were sound and stayed true.”