Ray’s work as Team Leader of the Grounds and Events team, along with the efforts of the entire Property and Facilities staff, has an impact on anyone who visits or attends Girls Grammar. Working quietly and meticulously, Ray has managed the logistics of the School’s events and daily operations for the past 21 years.
I started off originally as a butcher in South Australia—I’ve had a long history of butchering in my family. I then moved into hotel management, initially in Australia, then in England managing a 140-seater restaurant.
I met my wife in the early 1990s, soon after I returned from working in the UK. We were both looking for a new adventure and warmer weather so we decided to move to Queensland—it was the best decision we ever made.
When we moved to Queensland, I started working at the Merthyr Café in New Farm. I did all of the cooking and baking, and within six months was managing the kitchen. My wife and I loved our time living in New Farm and Fortitude Valley.
I started with Girls Grammar in 1997, 21 years ago, and I haven’t looked back. I started doing basic grounds work, and then I moved into more of a team leader role about fifteen years ago.
It was pretty hard work back in those days—when you talk about ‘manual labour’, it was truly manual, but it was rewarding work; we built a lot of garden beds around the School, and completed other minor projects.
These days, I am responsible for the coordination of the physical requirements for all of the School’s events. It’s all about looking at your event plan, and figuring out how to make it work. I enjoy the interaction with other staff and the reward of delivering their expectations. It is still a physically demanding role, and sharing a laugh with my team mates is a great way to see the lighter side of the more difficult tasks we perform.
One of the main events in the calendar is obviously Open Day. It really is a whole-school event, and everyone plays their part. My team does all of the set-up of all of the different stalls, demonstrations, and performance spaces.
We also manage the other School events throughout the year, during term time and in holidays. Basically, my job is to ensure that the day-to-day running of the School goes well. Two weeks after QCS, for example, about 600 external markers come into the School. Plenty of rooms throughout the School need to be set up in particular ways, cleared and re-set for classes again.
It’s important to treat every event in the same way—whether it’s a small BBQ or a 300-seat formal function. It’s always a good challenge to create exactly what our staff need, and do it well.
I also do my best to make sure that there are no issues, and that everything is to the letter. I am quite particular about the way I do things; everything has to be nice and neat, with no corners cut. I guess I’ve always been that way throughout my life, and I try to instil that ethos within my team. We always receive lots of nice compliments from School staff; their appreciation makes our hard work worthwhile. It is a great feeling to be part of our School community, and be valued for our contributions.
I’ve always enjoyed my job at the School. I’m the kind of person who didn’t want to sit around, and this job has certainly kept me fit for the past 21 years.
I also try to stay active in my spare time, too. It is not unusual for me to do a five-hour round trip on a weekend chasing waves at the coast.
Another passion of mine is travelling, which started at a young age. A memorable trip I did in my early 20s was driving through Central Australia to Darwin in an old ’64 Cortina, back when it was all dirt roads. There were 700 kilometres of bulldust before I hit the Northern Territory border. My car was a wreck by the time I got to my destination—the suspension was gone and it took me months to get rid of the dust from my car, but was an amazing experience.
I certainly feel like I have made the most of my time at the School so far. Girls Grammar delivers so many events during a year; it really is a bustling School environment. The people at the School make Girls Grammar a community; it’s nice to be surrounded by people who have all committed to the same goal.
My wife and I have recently built a house at East Ballina, very close to the water, which is the home we will move to when I eventually retire and we start of a new chapter in our life.