18.02.1965 – 25.08.2022
Thank you to Terry Blizzard, current Headmaster of St Mary’s College St Kilda, former Deputy Principal of St Virgil’s, and a close friend and colleague of Mark for sharing his eulogy with OVAtions:
The story of Mark Waddington at St Virgil’s is one of a much-loved community builder, with a vision of a community that sees inclusion and advocacy for the marginalised as its heart and soul. It is a story of a dignified presence, and it is a story of humility that influenced many. A man passionate about standards (for goodness’ sake punctuate!), a model of humanity who graciously shared his life with us.
Choosing to relocate his family, our family, in 2012 was such an adventure, he saw something in the people and the lifestyle that spoke to him and to Jacinta. I think the challenge of where he could take the school appealed to him too.
To summarise Mark’s story at St Virgil’s College in so few words is flawed, but there are some achievements that must be celebrated.
Right from the beginning Mark set about understanding the culture of this community, it was so important to him, immersing himself in every aspect of the school. Early on he prioritised connection with the old boy network, to listen and to learn. You see Mark passionately believed that schools are communities, and that alumni and parents and friends and students and staff are intrinsic to that community. With his old boy committee he set in place community building events such as the football lunch, the grand Role of Honour event held annually paying tribute to distinguished old boys and organised alumni reunions in Melbourne and Sydney. He saw a need to, if you like, bring them back to the fold. I think it was for this reason that Mark so passionately took on the enormous task over recent years of developing the extraordinary feasibility work for the return of Year 11 and 12. He was determined to be at the opening in 2024. I know that Mark came to call many of the old boys he worked with his dear friends, and I know many of them are here today to celebrate his life.
Mark’s time at St Virgil’s College was characterised by his extraordinary compassion and empathy and his want to make a difference. His commitment to and love for the specially abled children at the Mary Rice Centre in Africa was a profound example of this - they were his people and he loved them. His great dream was to lead a group of students and others to Nairobi to work with the Mary Rice community in the Kibera slum which came to fruition in 2019. We saw him there so utterly full of joy and love for these people, and in looking back at the photos is to see someone who could think of no other place he’d rather be. The impact on the young people who Mark led on this immersion was life changing. There are many in Nairobi mourning today.
As we have heard from his time at St Patrick’s, Mark was inspired by the spirituality of First Nation Australians and had a passionate commitment to reconciliation. It was in a sense his life’s work. Mark found kindred spirits at St Virgil’s, who in partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community set upon a journey over a number of years of developing the College’s Reconciliation Action Plan. I know Mark and the members of this group spent many hours over a number of years developing this extraordinary work. In so doing developing a culture in the school that has reconciliation deep in its heart. In 2021 Reconciliation Australia announced the St Virgil’s College RAP as winner of the Narragunnawali Award, recognising and celebrating the school and its implementation of outstanding reconciliation initiatives. St Virgil's RAP was named as the nation’s leading school at the 2021 Australian Reconciliation Convention.
It is hard to speak of Mark’s story at St Virgil’s without referencing his great passion for sport, involving himself in organising and coaching a range of sports including soccer, football and something called water polo! The greatest game of all though, cricket, was his great love, and he spent so many hours offering the young men of the school the opportunity to participate. Feature games against the old enemy down the channel, the Coyle-Clingeleffer Cup with St Patrick’s Launceston, and the tri-series every summer against the two St Patrick’s, Launceston and Ballarat. Mark loved the discipline of cricket, and he loved the inclusive nature of the great game and he loved working with and teaching the youngsters.
It was such a privilege that he shared his life and passions with us as he built community over his ten years – he had an amazing impact in this regard.
Mark, the amazing educator in and out of the classroom, a love hate relationship with the Blues, a person with questionable dress sense, a friend to us all, who considered the marginalised in the school community as its heart and soul.
A leader who showed that gentle humanity is a powerful means of change.
What a privilege for us all.
The full service was recorded and available on the College’s YouTube channel which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua-X28KR8Y4
It was a lengthy service but one so befitting this beautiful and generous man. This was a life well lived - one to be admired, one that is an ongoing source of inspiration for us all. The eulogists at the gathering are listed below and their individual reference point indicated. About 800 people attended the service which was held in the covered quadrangle at the Austins Ferry campus – and to facilitate the service only a small representative group of students were in attendance. At the time of writing almost 1 900 had viewed the ceremony on YouTube.
Below are some key highlights of the service, including times where you can find them:
WELCOME TO COUNTRY
1hr 27minutes: Family of origin and Mark’s early years
Michael Waddington (brother)
1hr 42 minutes: Mark, the friend and colleague
Howard Clark (former colleague and long-time friend)
Mark, the friend and colleague
1hr 54 minutes: Mark’s impact at St Pat’s
Stephen O’Connor (Principal of St Patrick’s College, Ballarat)
2hr 02 minutes: Mark’s commitment to and vision for St Virgil’s College
Terry Blizzard (Headmaster of St Mary’s College St Kilda, former Deputy Principal of St Virgil’s, close friend and colleague)
2hr 13 minutes: Mark the family man
Declan and Tadhg (Mark’s sons), and Jacinta and Matilda (Mark’s wife and daughter)