Introducing Ardoch's 200th Education Volunteer for 2018

Former world record holder, plane crash survivor and Education Volunteer extraordinaire! Tony is Ardoch’s 200th Education Volunteer for 2018. We asked him his thoughts on the matter..


Tell me a bit about your career...

Well, I’m retired now but originally I was a patrol officer in Papua New Guinea where I was responsible for the management and development of entire areas. I trained local staff to take over from expatriates before Independence. Then I worked in HR as a manager at La Trobe University and Australian National Universities. I was the Manager of Corporate Services at Broken Hill Water Board, the HR manager at a few Credit Unions, then on to Industry Super Fund and finally retiring in 2013. The Credit Union role involved a lot of flying, which, given my history of surviving three light plane crashes- was not particularly glamorous!
I was also a runner and a former world record holder for the mile for men over 40, but now ride a road bike for fitness, as it’s kinder to my knees.

Has your career given you any skills you use as an Education Volunteer?

It’s hard to pin down, I’m used to working with a wide variety of people and there’s certainly a wide variety of children at the two kindergartens that I volunteer with at the moment, all coming from quite diverse backgrounds. I think I’ve also learnt a lot of patience dealing with people which certainly helps with children! Also, not to be judgemental because you never really know the full story. Those have been important things I’ve learnt working in HR and as a patrol officer for that matter.

Were you looking to solve any particular problems when you joined Ardoch?

I wasn’t looking to solve any one problem, but I was hoping to assist kindergarten teachers to make it easier for them to do their thing by providing support and an extra pair of hands and eyes. I think I have the capacity to make a small difference in their lives and that’s really important. I believe this is partly because I’m male. Some of these kids don’t have any male figures in their lives, and somebody who has hope for them and takes an interest, well, I imagine would be fairly significant for them.

Do you feel like you’re making a difference at your schools?

It’s early days but they seem to have accepted me really well. I get on with them! They are gorgeous kids, even the ones that are supposed to be difficult, I seem to be able to connect with them alright. I’m only with them for two and a half, sometimes three hours a week, it’s not a long time but I feel like I’m having an impact. It’s a lovely feeling.

Any advice to potential volunteers out there looking at Ardoch as a volunteer option?

I don’t think you can convince anybody that they can find time to volunteer but the reward for effort is extraordinary. Only a small effort is rewarded in so many ways. I go there, and the kids are doing me a favour by allowing me into that part of their lives. It’s extremely rewarding. I come out of there feeling terrific, it’s just great, so to be able to have that, why wouldn’t you want to do something that involves such a small amount of time andeffort for such a huge reward? It’s a no brainer.


Ardoch is a children’s education charity focused on improving educational outcomes of children and young people in disadvantaged communities. You can help by signing-up to become avolunteer or by making a donation.