50+ Alumni High Tea

Posted on March 1, 2021

On Sunday 28 February the School held it’s annual 50+ Alumni reunion for those who are 50 Years out of School or longer. The most recent group to be welcomed to this event is the class of 1970.

This year we decided to break out the fine china, using the beautiful tea cups and teapots that have been donated by our generous alumni over the years. These cups looked particularly good next to the delicious selection of cakes and delicacies served by our talented catering team.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended our 50+ Alumni High Tea, it was a beautiful event with an amazing turn out of Friends’ Alumni.

Mary Woolnough has been kind enough to share the following reflections about the day. Thank you to Mary and to those who shared their story with her.

I had the pleasure of attending my first 50-plus years annual reunion held in The Farrall Centre a few weeks ago. It was so good to see many familiar faces and to catch up with friends not seen for such a long time. After restrictions of COVID the School planned an afternoon tea rather than a lunch and it was a credit to those who organized it.  The tables were decorated with beautiful teacups and saucers and flowers; the food was delicious and the students did a magnificent job as waiters and providing background music.  We even sang Alma Mater and managed to remember most of the words. 

On arrival I was lucky enough to meet up with fellow 50-plus leavers and was invited to sit at the table organized by Brian Correy.  

At the table were Brian and Ros Correy; Andrew and Jane Thompson; Michael and Christine Topfer and Sue Kadlecek (Ockenden).  We were the youngest of the guests, having either left in 1969 or 1970 and hopefully, there will be many more of us at next year’s event. 

With the help of Brian Correy I managed to get two stories from those at our table; I hope you enjoy reading them. 

Mary Woolnough Alumni Representative
Friends’ Alumni Community


1.  Could you tell us a bit about what happened when you left School, and the path you took to get where you are now.

Utas medicine – following in my father’s footsteps.  Ended up majoring in sports and other distractions. Then to the Tasmanian Public service rising up the ranks as an industrial advocate for Hospital and Health Services.  Moved to the private sector and purchased a market and social research consultancy which has developed significantly over the past three decades. 

2.  Where are you now?

I live close to the beaches on Hobart’s Eastern Shore.  I run Myriad Research with my wife and fellow Director.  We are actively working on our retirement plan !

3.  Do you have a fond memory of your time at Friends’?

Many fond memories of my School days. Fellow students; sports and teachers. I recently reconnected with my maths teachers Tony Hill and Nancy Newbon. Nancy turned 100 last year.  Tony is a comparative youngster in his early 80’s. Plus my sportsmaster Noel Ruddock in his 90’s.   The close bonds developed all those years ago are alive and well today.

4.  Do you have any advice for our current students?

Look for the best in others.  Be your own coach with gentle encouragement and forgiveness when you stumble.  Cherish each day as a gift to be embraced.   Steer your own way.

Both my brother’s and sister’s children went to Friends.  They are now mature and happy young adults making a positive difference in the world. 


1. Could you tell us a bit about what happened when you left School, and the path you took to get where you are now.

I was a member of a group of students who left Friends’ School at the end of 1968 (back then Class 11, now would be Year 10) to study at the new Elizabeth Matriculation College. I matriculated in one year at EMC but went back for a second year to qualify for a Commonwealth Scholarship to study at the University of Tasmania.

I enrolled for a Degree of Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical Communications), commencing in 1971. Every Christmas holiday vacation was spent working for work experience for an industry related to Engineering in some way. Work included labouring at a foundry (metallurgy), assisting electricians at ANM Newsprint Mill at Boyer and Cobar Copper Mine, and assisting technicians at Telecom exchange in Bathurst Street. I completed my degree part time in 1976.

After final exams, a friend and I embarked on a three-month holiday to South East Asia, travelling to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Returning in March 1977, commenced looking for an Engineering job in Hobart. Had several interim non-Engineering jobs, including working as a barman at a yacht club and as a clerk in the Commonwealth Public Service until joining Telecom Australia in Hobart in June 1977.

During my employment as an Engineer with Telecom, I was required to provide engineering advice and instruction for telephone exchange installation, design and installation of customer cable distribution networks, operations and maintenance of inter-exchange cable networks, and specification of methods and practices for outside plant staff. Commencing in December 1990, I spent a year in Saudi Arabia as an external plant operations and maintenance advisor working with Telecom Australia International which had a contract with the Saudi Government to provide a team of 140 Telecom advisors in the Kingdom. I worked with the local Saudi Telecom District Manager in Tabuk (in the north-west of the Kingdom) providing advice. I was there during the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), which started in January 1991. To be able to experience another culture at close quarters was a fascinating experience. I decided after a year to come home. My family weren’t with me. My wife and two sons visited me for several months only during this time.

On my return I continued my employment with Telecom. During 1996 I worked in Melbourne assisting project managers on scheduling of the rollout of products and services.  In 1999 I was asked to take on a key role with the implementation of a Telstra wide project, logistics and financial management system. The project required my travel to Melbourne almost every week for three years. The project successfully completed in 2002. For the next few years my time was spent providing advice to Telstra staff Australia-wide on the operation and use of the new system. In June 2009 my position became redundant as a result of the GFC and I left Telstra after 32 years of employment.

I decided I was too young to retire and didn’t wish to move interstate so started again to look for a job in Hobart. I applied for and was successful in a position at Metro Tasmania (State Govt passenger bus company) of Ticketing Manager. The role was responsible for the completion of the Greencard rollout and continuing operations and maintenance of the ticketing system. Involved in all aspects of Greencard and associated systems and processes, particularly in regard to use of the system by Metro bus drivers and passengers. I enjoyed the job, particularly working with the drivers and supervisors. After four years, in 2013 I retired.

2. Where are you now?

My wife Christine and I were married in September 1982. With the help of others, we designed and built our house in Rose Bay. We moved in during 1985 and have lived there since. Our home is continually being renovated and improved. We love our garden! Our three sons have grown up and left home. Christine is working nationally part-time as an Education (Literacy) Consultant. I am retired.  

3. Do you have a fond memory of your time at Friends’?  

Mostly I have a fond memory of my time at Friends’. My teachers were excellent though Miss Yeates did give me a hard time on occasion when she thought I could do better! Mr Oats was such a wonderful headmaster; always kind and understanding. I enjoyed being in the school swimming team and trips up north to compete with the Launceston schools. I didn’t enjoy the regular hair inspections by Mr Asten. He was a very strict deputy headmaster and I remember him as being always cross with the boys!

4. Do you have any advice for our current students?

Follow your passion but make sure it will lead to something that will give you a job! Focus on the things you enjoy and can do well.

Our three sons Luke, Andrew and Cameron Topfer attended The Friends’ School. We have two granddaughters, almost 3yo and 1yo. Too young for school yet!