Where are they now – Michael Whitehead (SPC 1968-1971)
October 22, 2021
We recently reconnected with Old Collegian Michael Whitehead (SPC 1968-1971), who has kindly permitted the College to share his story, which was published in a reunion book produced by the Class of 1970 earlier this year. The cohort was due to celebrate their 50-Year Reunion at the College, however their celebrations have been sadly rescheduled to early 2022 due to the ongoing COVID lockdowns and restrictions.
Michael is well-known in Ballarat, as an anaesthetist, his passion for the arts and his recent magnificent transformation of one of the city’s most well-known buildings into his home, which was captured in the TV series, Restoration Australia 2020-21.
Nickname: None. ‘Mick’ to school mates. ‘Mike’ to Uni/Work mates, Michael to the Tax Office
Years at SPC: 1968-1970
Status at SPC: Day Student
I was married for 35 years to Wendy (ICU nurse) but unfortunately divorced in 2017 after a long time of great and memorable joint experiences.
I have two very loving, supportive (and tolerant!) daughters:
* Madeleine (1991) did acting initially but works for an international cosmetic company and lives in Port Melbourne with her Italian partner, Paolo who now works in Australia for NAB.
* Olivia (1993) is a social worker at St Ignatius College in Drysdale and lives with her partner, Ryley an engineer, in Geelong.
No grandchildren envisaged in the near future. We are a happy mob.
Current Occupation: Anaesthetist in private practice in Ballarat since 1986.
Post Secondary Education:
- 1971 repeated HSC to get into Medicine…and just did, my score being the cut-off point. The luck began then!
- 1972-78 Monash Medicine… repeated third year (must’ve got distracted) then intern years back in Ballarat.
- 1982-86 Anaesthetics training Melbourne (RMH, RWH, RCH) and London (St George’s and Great Ormond Street Childrens’), had developed an interest in paediatric anaesthesia and on return to work in Ballarat (Base and St John’s Hospitals) had a five-year part-time appointment at RCH Melbourne.
- 1986 to present in Ballarat. In all of that time, Anaesthesia scientific developments have been phenomenal such that it is so much safer today due to the technology and the training – good for both the patient and the doctor! I absolutely love the work, the challenges but am winding down my time at work and will retire in the near future.
- I have been fortunate to be involved across the gamut of my specialty: anaesthesia, paediatrics, pain clinic and intensive care and yes, would do any of it again (although pain management clinics are very testing).
Spent many years as “Maitre’D” for my wife’s catering business in my after-hours spare time. I was really just talking to guests but learnt a bit about food and wine. So, was involved in Beefsteak & Burgundy Club and Epicurean Society.
Art: modern American and European mostly. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is my excuse for my ‘taste’
Cars: waste of money, but they can be appreciated for their aesthetic appeal even by an ‘an’aesthetic person.
Architecture: I have love of old buildings with a modern purpose and spent three years restoring an 1867 Baptist church opposite St Pat’s Cathedral in Ballarat (see Restoration Australia 2020-21 when released if interested).
I’m a board member of Ballarat Arts Foundation supporting local artists of all ages and genres: very satisfying.
I have been on the committee of Ballarat Lyric Theatre (musical theatre) since 2002 and President for 12 years waiting to be deposed! I can’t sing, act or dance, hence the committee role I suppose. A great experience for me personally and the company is a necessary component of Ballarat’s cultural pallet.
I spent years travelling to Milne Bay area of PNG doing medical treatment work in local villages: unbelievable lack of available resources available to those fabulous people, who are so positive despite receiving little assistance
Used to run a lot, less now, and was in Hash House Harriers (drinkers with a running problem!).
Involved since ’87 in Real (Royal) Tennis as Ballarat has 1 of 4 Australian clubs…handicap system lets oldies have a chance to win but I’m still only average at it.
Still water-ski in summer but that will come to an abrupt/painful halt one year I suspect.
Member Melbourne Walking Club but only do 1 walk a year… use the ski lodge at Buller on occasion.
Member at MCC and Essendon FC.
Best Memories of St Patrick’s College:
- Premiers of the 2nds Rugby competition 1971!! Grateful to be in team but as a winger, didn’t score even once sadly. I was useless but loved the game. Played against school state squad in the mud at the Monastery (Harvey Norman!) with great support from the SPC footy guys but we lost.
- Extending the number of invites to Clarendon and Queens girls to the SPC dance especially the “HAIR”-themed night.
- Tuesday night TRIFLE dessert…massive fight for seconds!!
- Br Carroll (5’8″) in Intermediate B to Perovic (6’3″) after a disagreement: “Stand up little man! Hmmm, you’re not so little. Sit down!
- Br Fogarty obviously keeping warm in winter (pj pants evident under the cassock hem)
- Kenny house raiding Loreto dorm at end year 1970 (“No Br Fogarty, don’t know anything about it”)
- Lifting Mr Bond’s car over to a wall in the car park so that he couldn’t get into it on driver side. Ollie Stewart fussed – Mr Bond non-plussed.
Effects of COVID-19 (written from the perspective earlier this year): This is an unusual state… we all are at risk, all are effected and so it has caused a necessary re-think of what is important to MOST of us.
While my work is minimal (down 80% at some times and the thought of Centrelink popped up!) there are many with nothing, with a worrying future. Most of us seem to enjoy the down time, the consideration of social distancing but not the social isolation. Every week my extended family join a Zoom meeting to catch up which is more than we did pre-Covid and this will now continue post-Covid.
My Italian is no better despite online stuff but I have seen more movies this year than in the rest of my life! Masks have now become the new tie… just got to remember to grab one when I go out so that I’m not ‘naked’. I used to have reading glasses in every room/car/work place and now I have these masks everywhere.
Any tips? If nothing else, just ring a relative/friend that you have not contacted for so long because you didn’t take the time to do it as there are no excuses at present and most are up for a chat. I hope our alumni is getting through it adequately, but if not, then this might be a medium which can highlight someone’s plight and even get some respite.