Where are they now - Peter Leonard
author: Lorrie Liston
The College reconnects with Peter Leonard (SPC 1981-82) who has risen to the rank of Station Officer in the MFB. During his time at SPC, Peter was Deputy College Captain, Captain of Boats, Captain of Football, Captain of the BPSA Football Team and Howard Award recipient 1982.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
Since leaving SPC, my life has taken a few twists and turns as you could imagine, over more than 30 years. I left home after finishing at SPC in 1982 and went to Melbourne to work, but mainly to play football at Fitzroy (remember them?). That lasted until early 1984 when I was cut from the list, and with nowhere to play, ended up at De La Salle Old Collegians FC., which turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me. I met so many fantastic people at that club, who are still close friends today. I had left work at Westpac at that stage, and had started working for a fantastic boss in the exclusive Essoign club (for members of the Victorian Bar Association). I was like a fish out of water, a country boy in that place, but loved every minute of it. During and after that time, I bought a taxi license, got married, had a major knee injury playing football, and fell off the radar for a period of time. My first marriage went south, and I sold my taxi License and house in Northcote, which we owned at the time, and I started working in the hire and rental business, once again for a terrific boss, and on leaving there after 15 years, had a couple of part-time positions before joining the MFB as a firefighter. I met my current wife (Louise) in 1998, we travelled to South America, Europe, and Asia, and took up long course triathlon (3 x Ironman finishes). I have two beautiful boys (Will – 8, and Xavier – 7) and a fantastic wife, and have risen to the rank of Station Officer in the MFB. We have just bought another renovators delight in Mount Eliza, and love the Mornington Peninsula lifestyle.
What are your favourite memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
Some of my favourite memories since leaving SPC are the stories and events from Boarding (too many to talk about here), great football teams and rowing crews (I think we only lost one game of football in 1982 – to Assumption by one point in an epic match at SPC), and we finished third at Head of the Lake for the record. I often relate stories of the late Br Miller losing it in Maths cass, which always get a laugh, but were a bit daunting at the time, war cries in the boarders lounge, (or whenever it felt like the right time), and so many good people at the college, boarders and day students, too many to list. I had a great time at SPC, and still talk about events to this day.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
I had three major influences at SPC, and they were Br Bill Wilding, George Pell, and Bob Aron.
Bill was a great guiding influence, and encouraged me to step up and accept the Deputy College Captain election, which I felt I didn’t deserve at the time (how Tim O’Leary didn’t get it I’ll never know!). He taught me about what are now considered old fashioned values, duty to your task, your family, your friends, and to work hard to get the best from yourself. He was a great mentor.
George was my rowing coach, and was a no nonsense coach, who drove us all hard, but taught me that you didn’t need outstanding ability to excel, just hard work. So many of his messages and much of his work ethic I still employ today. He moulded our crew into a decent outfit, and with names like O’Leary, Ryan, Murphy, and Leonard, in his words “There is no doubt which crew is the St Pats crew in the water today”. And the support we received at Head of the Lake on the day was second to none, from the parochial St Pat’s supporters. Great memories.
Bob was without doubt the biggest influence on me at St Pat’s. He was my coach in ’81 and ’82, House master in ’82, and just a ripping bloke. He was forthright with his views, determined to make sure we worked hard to succeed. Apart from my father, he is without doubt, the biggest male influence on how I approach life. Loyalty to your mates, to your family, and to quote Bob, “A St Pat’s player never takes his eye off the ball!”. Of all the things SPC related, I still miss the football team banter, and associated team aspects of that environment. If he had coached the BPSA combined team in ’82 I’m sure the result would have been different.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
I have used aspects of my education (maths, science) in my working life over 30 plus years, but it’s mainly the values learned that I have employed in that time. I scraped through HSC, and no doubt sport was the major influence for me.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
The College shaped so many of my personal values, and influenced how I raise my children, and live my life. I hope that some of those values at least are passed on to my boys.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
My message to the current St Pat’s students would be to make the most of your time there. Time passes so quickly, and each day is important. Work hard for what you want to achieve, and don’t lose focus. Loyalty, honesty, and hard work will get you a long way.