24 September 2016, Powerhouse clubhouse, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia
When David Dyer became Headmaster in 1966, he was determined to take CGS to the forefront of private schools in this state, if not in Australia. Vital to the achievement of this goal was the securing of appropriate staff. By appointing Peter Hutchinson to the staff in 1967, he selected a man who was to become an integral part of the journey towards recognition, his contribution to the School in keeping with a man of his stature.
Hutchie enjoyed teaching; he enjoyed being in the classroom. It mattered not whether it was with a lowly stream of Year 9 Maths or a Year 12 Physics class; he loved it all. He was an excellent judge of his students, and they responded well to his encouragement and motivation. In 1984, he became Head of Science, much to the delight of his colleagues, who appreciated his style of leadership. The David Danks Science Laboratories were in the planning stage, and, until their opening in 1991, Hutch attended many meetings with the architects and builders, being closely involved in the creation of what were to be outstanding facilities.
In 1973, when David Dyer wanted to increase the number of Houses from four to six, to meet the demand of burgeoning numbers, it was a move he could not make without being absolutely certain he had the right people to fill the new positions. Hutchie became the inaugural House Master of Schofield, his house rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. As Housemaster, first of Schofield and later Bridgland, he earned the trust and respect of his charges; they knew they could always come to him for advice, for a fair hearing and support, and literally hundreds of boys have cause to be grateful for his tutelage.
Hutchie excelled, not only in the class room, but also on the sporting field. He had joined Power House Football Club when he first came to Melbourne in 1956 to pursue his Science degree at Melbourne University, and over the next twenty years, played 363 games with the Club, being Captain for six seasons and winning its Best and Fairest Award a record seven times. He was declared a VAFA Legend and awarded Life Membership of the Association. After many years of football and cricket, Hutchie took up tennis. A keen player, he became President of his local club, steering it through the difficult years of massive water restrictions, obtaining grants from the Boroondara City Council, the School and the Bendigo Bank to build water-free courts and then overseeing their construction. When he set his mind on achieving something, he was a hard man to refuse.
At CGS, Hutchie played a vital role in the resurgence of the School’s reputation on the sporting field. As Master-in-charge of Football, he played an important role in creating a strong ethos in the School’s football teams and establishing a style of play that saw the School win the majority of its AGS games during the ‘seventies and ‘eighties, though not even he could break the Assumption hoodoo. In Ron Wootton’s absence at the Olympics in Munich, Hutchie took over the lst XVlll and the School AGS Swimming team. For thirty odd years in the Athletics season, he trained the School’s shot putters, introducing what is still remembered as the Sigalas glide. All this in addition to a seriously full House sport programme, with Schofield being the first of the new Houses to win the coveted Jarrett Cup. When he retired from playing football with Power House, the Old Camberwell Grammarians Football Club was quick to make the most of his extraordinary knowledge of the game, appointing him as its coach. Hutch quickly took the team to a premiership, ironically disposing of Power House in the preliminary final on the way. His contribution to the OCGA was rewarded later with Life Membership.
Over the years, despite his heavy commitment to CGS, Hutch retained his strong ties with Power House, especially as Chef de Cuisine at Big Camp, Easter Camp, Special Kids’ camps, work camps. In recognition of his dedication, he was awarded Honorary Life Membership of Lord Somers Camp and Power House. He shared his culinary skills with Camberwell Grammar, cooking at all sorts of School camps, many of them at Somers: play rehearsal camps; Art camps; lst XVlll football training camps.
He worked tirelessly as the Common Room Association’s representative on the Superannuation Board, and was directly responsible for many of the improvements that came in staff salaries and conditions. At various times, he was President of both the CGS Past Parents’ and the CGS PastStaff associations, organizing functions as diverse as Croquet days at Kingussie, Frog racing in the Common Room and, in the PAC, a TAB race meeting and auction.
Hutchie loved a good party and had a seemingly endless repertoire of jokes, limericks and songs. Be it in Swannie’s or the Common Room, his love of life was infectious. His singing voice had its own quite distinctive pitch, and many have revelled in listening to such classics as The Little Red Hen’ and ‘Sweet Little Angeline’, a rendition of the former featuring in his commemorative service at Power House Lakeside. Hutch was to say the least, an enthusiastic participant and joined in a number of School productions, most notably the 1986 Centenary Revue at the National Theatre in St Kilda, where he featured in both the show’s opening number and its finale. The revue began with ‘Willcommen’ from Cabaret and there was Hutch in the chorus line, replete with a frilly tutu and fishnet stockings – he made a formidable Grundhilde. And that was not the last the audience were to see of him. The finale included ‘Farewell Auntie Jack’, with the ABC icon being played by Hutch, sidecar, boxing glove, an energetic Kid Edgar, played by Irving Lenton and all. The School magazine for 1986 records the closing of the revue in the following manner:
“Song and dance was plentiful at the conclusion to Act ll … and the cast returned to bid goodbye to Auntie Jack, played by the great, great Peter Hutchinson. Appropriately, in our Centenary Year, ‘The Best of Times is now’ ended a memorable evening’s entertainment.”
“… the great, great Peter Hutchinson” - such was the respect and affection he had earned from staff and students.
In an attempt to quantify Hutchie’s contribution to Camberwell Grammar over his 33 years at the School, CGS could be compared to an ocean liner: the Headmaster, hand on helm, directing the course; below in the engine room, the likes of Hutch being the source of the power that keeps the vessel moving.
Over the last few tears, Peter traversed fairly stormy seas, but at last he has found his peace and as William Wordsworth would have it,
“… all that mighty heart is lying still.”
CGS is forever in his debt.