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YOUNG AND OLD SHARE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Old Paradians have joined current students of the College in bringing cheer to the northern suburbs’ aged and infirm, through the 2017 Community Action Christmas Party at the Bundoora campus.

More than 160 senior residents across 21 aged care facilities were guests of the College at the annual party in the Greening Auditorium on Thursday. The elderly men and women were handed gifts, served lunch and generally entertained by a number of Year 7-12 students who had paid their facilities a visit through 2017.

Santa Claus, aka Spence Williams a final year student of 1960, was also present at the party as has been the case for many years . . . and as Spence reminded, the whiskers are real.

“I don’t know how long I’ve been turning out as Santa, but probably ever since I’ve had a beard, which was after I finished at Parade back in the early 1960s,” Spence said.

“In the old days I’d buy a tin of white spray to dye my beard, but I don’t have to now.”

Spence’s great sense of community has seen him don the Santa suit for various charities as far away as Port Hedland and Bundaberg, and as close to home as Broadmeadows for Vietnam veterans – and of course to Bundoora for the elderly.

“I’ve never taken a penny for doing it. I do it because I enjoy it,” Spence said.

“I had one old bloke say to me ‘What if I don’t believe?’, to which I replied: ‘Look at me, I’m real’.”

Having first attended Parade College East Melbourne as a Grade Two student in 1948, been amongst the first intake of students at Parade Preparatory College Alphington in 1953 and a member of the Bundoora Campus’s inaugural teaching staff in 1968, Spence looks on with pride at what today’s Paradians are doing for those in the broader community.

“It’s a pleasure to be part of this day at the old school and I look forward to it every year,” Spence said.

“It’s fantastic to see what the boys do. They prepare presents for the old people, they sit with them at the tables and they wait on them also. It’s good for them and it’s good for the oldies.”

Spence’s view is shared by Bernie, now in his late 90s, and a resident of Vasey House. At party's end, Bernie called on fellow guests to offer a round of applause to the students – eight of whom had returned to the College after completing Year 12 exams to assist in the auditorium.

“Young men always get a bad rap, but not all of them are ratbags,” Bernie said.

“We’re so very fortunate, as old folks, to be here celebrating Christmas. It’s so heart-warming to see the boys giving back and behaving in a manner that is a credit to their parents and the school.”

Another Old Paradian Chris Blampied (1967) lent his support to the Christmas party, as did Association Secretary Mirella Busso-Lee, who capably assisted the College’s Community Action Coordinator Anne-Marie Morello with the running of the event.