We have slept well with the knowledge that, all being well, Lewis would be discharged after he’s had his third, post operative set of antibiotics at around 4pm in the afternoon.
I had contacted our travel agent and insurance provider on Friday to ask them to put in place appropriate travel arrangements both by air and by road. When I spoke to the insurance company at 11pm last evening (2pm on Friday in UK) they required me to send them copies of the certificate to fly and the doctor’s confirmation of his injury. I explained I didn’t have the skills to do that and that the hospital did not have wifi for me to send a personal email with photos of the letters attached.
I was worried that with it being the weekend, offices etc. may be shut when I deal with things. I ask the nurse if she can email copies of the doctor’s letters first thing on Saturday morning and she duly returns with the copies and a receipt that they had gone.
I hear from the rest of the party during mid-morning and tell them the good news that we will be able to meet up with them in Surfers Paradise in the evening. Miss Rushworth was in the process of confirming the venue for the end of tour dinner. She had booked the North Winds surf club which was a 3 or 4 minute walk from our hotel. We had a choice of pizza, Beef burger, chicken burger or fish all with chips at a cost of $22pp. We hope we have enough left in the emergency fund to cover it, although with the spiralling injury list and associated costs it was difficult to keep on top of how much was there.
With it being the weekend, and with Lewis having been placed in the children’s ward to allow him to have an adult to stay with him overnight, there were few other patients on the ward as most had been discharged. Lewis’s care had been fantastic from start to finish, but it was even better today with the staff able to give Lewis almost constant attention. He receives visits from several doctors, one of whom had been born in South Gower and gone to Mayals primary, a physiotherapist, pharmacist as well as the surgeon. They confirm that his recovery is on track and that he can be discharged at 4pm
Our agent on the ground, Warwick Melrose organises a large taxi to take us from Nambour hospital to the Mantra Legends hotel in Surfers Paradise. It’s a two and a half hour journey and costs $380. A similar taxi will take us to Brisbane airport tomorrow morning. It’s only half the distance and will cost $190. We will be able to claim the costs back under insurance.
Lewis and I arrive at the Mantra Legends at 6.40pm. It’s good to see the smiling faces of others in the party again-they seemed in good spirits. A chat with the students confirms that they have enjoyed both Australia Zoo and Dreamworld.
Lewis and 1 have 20 minutes to freshen up before we go out for the meal. The Surf club is very busy, but nevertheless, we have a good meal which is value for money.
After the meal it’s too noisy to make the awards inside, so we adjourn to an outside patio. It’s a little cool and dark, but it’s a perfect setting with the surf crashing onto the beach behind us.
As usual, I have written my ‘speech’ to summarise my feelings on how the tour had gone;
Well, our journey is almost at its end. It began 3 years ago when you opted to travel to Australia and Malaysia, that quickly changed to Australia and Los Angeles before we finally settled on Australia and Singapore.
From the outset, we have always said that successful touring is hard work and certainly this tour has been no exception. We have all been challenged and taken out of our ‘comfort zone’ at different times; illness, injury, billeting, the demands of travel and even the restrictions imposed by staff are only a few of the things that individuals have had to deal with at different times. But I really believe that dealing with those challenges only serves to strengthen our resolve and as a result you will all return home stronger and better able to deal with the challenges that life will throw at you in the future.
As a result of this tour;
you will have a large group of friends with whom you will always have a special bond,
will have enjoyed a variety of different experiences that will undoubtedly shape your futures, and,
will have a host of memories that will stay with you forever and that will still be making you smile, when you think about them, in 50 years time.
As staff, we have massive respect for what you have achieved on the field. For the boys, to win 9 out of 10 games was remarkable and on previous tours with two teams winning seven out of ten is the best we have ever achieved.
There was a quote on the wall in Mater Maria that said;
‘The strong don’t knock the weak down-they pick them up and make them stronger.’
That’s what a team is-it’s easy to be a good player in a good team, what’s hard and what develops leadership is being a good player in a team with weaker players, realising that, and working hard to get the best from those lesser players whilst still getting the best out of yourself, and as a result helping the team achieves its potential and beyond.
You have been two great teams and because of that, have achieved beyond what might have been expected of you. When you return from tour and watch the videos of the games against St. Ignatius College, Mater Maria and Sunshine Grammar. You will see that we were second best in the first half of all of those games, and like me, you’ll marvel at the spirit and togetherness that allowed you to stop your opponents running away with those games. Had you have played the same teams at home, I’ve no doubt you’d have lost the majority of them-such is the bond that develops between a group on tour that allows them to achieve above and beyond what might normally have been expected.
For the girls, I ashamedly have to admit that I didn’t expect you to come close to winning a game. How could I doubt your resolve. In fact, to win games of hockey, netball and soccer was a fantastic achievement and testimony to your spirit. To create history as the only Gowerton team to play and then win a football game in the southern hemisphere is something that no one else will ever be able to say.
Notably, you are the only ones to have made the Australian Press!
The behaviour of the group has been unbelievably good. I realise your freedom has been much more restricted than it would be if you were with your parents or your friends-but we have obligations on your safety which we take very seriously and which by and large, you have accepted without question.
There is no greater compliment I can pay you, than to say, that both as a group and as individuals, you have earned our respect as your teachers and mentors.
There have been numerous occasions when we have been sat together as staff, having a meal or a cup of coffee when we have commented upon how much we have been impressed by you as a group and by many of you as individuals who have shown a selflessness that we didn’t expect to see.
For many of you, this tour marks the end of your time in Gowerton. For those moving on to University, we wish you well.
For those who are leaving to go to college, we trust that you have made the decision based upon what’s best for you in terms of the next stage of your education, and not because you think the ‘grass is greener’ elsewhere or that your sport will be better catered for.
In my opinion, the most important factor in achieving success in any field, but particularly in sport, is having the ‘mental strength’ to be able to take on a challenge and then to ‘bounce back’ when you are knocked down. That mental strength can be developed just as easily in school-where our main aim is to challenge you in the same way that you have been challenged on and off the field during this tour.
That is our ethos in school-we judge success not by whether or not you win or lose , but by how much we develop the character of young people in all areas-academic, sporting and cultural and social.
Dan Biggar, Liam Williams, Sam Davies, Phil Jones and Will Griffiths are all evidence that you don’t have to be part of a sporting academy to succeed at sport.
Many of you who are in year 13, will know of friends and former team mates who were Welsh Internationals when in year 11, who left school to go to Gorseinon and Hartpury and who have now fallen down the sporting pecking order, some even are not in the national squad.
More importantly, they’ve underachieved in their academic studies and several have had to resit a year. I make no excuses for extolling the virtues of an education in Gowerton’s sixth form. I believe strongly in the close knit community that a sixth form develops and as a consequence the strong personal bonds that it develops between staff, students and parents-and equally as importantly in the ethos of challenge that permeates through all that we do in Gowerton. As a result, I believe many students are able to achieve above and beyond what may normally have been expected of them
Three years ago Ailsa Howells and Joel Young had decided to leave school to go to Gorseinon. Their experiences on tour changed their minds and they stayed in school. This time last year, I asked them, did they feel they had made the right decision, both said, “It was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
For those of you who have come on tour from other institutions, a warm welcome awaits if you return as an opponent, but also importantly, a place as a student, if you want to be challenged in the way I have outlined.
A special word for the team of staff. They have undoubtedly been the best team that I have taken away. Miss Smitham, Miss Rushworth, Mr Lewis and Mr Thomas have all got the best out of you as coaches on the field and Mr Long has spent an unbelievable amount of time taking and uploading photos, videos and reports which will be a permanent memento of the tour,
As well as that, each member of staff has brought their own unique strengths that have complemented each other; Mr Lewis; calm assurance, Mr Long; efficiency and technical expertise of IT and travel, Mr Thomas; humour, Miss Smitham; energy, enthusiasm and willingness to take on a challenge and Miss Rushworth: experience and a sense of responsibility.
Now it’s time to move on. The only thing we as staff ask from you is your respect for a job done to the best of our abilities. The best way to show that respect, is that when we get off the bus in Park Road, although you will be desperate to reacquaint yourselves with your loved ones, that you take time to shake hands or hug each of us before you move on. It will mean a lot to us.
Well all is almost done, our great adventure is over and perhaps your appetite is whetted to do similar again. We’ll be homeward bound tomorrow and our loved ones await, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing Helen and Bobby again.
When I came to collect my cases from Australia Zoo yesterday, in anticipation of the fact that Lewis and I may have to stay on in Australia a little longer, I had a long chat with the taxi driver and when we got back to the hospital, he said to me, “I have only met you briefly, and I may never meet you again, but one thing’s for certain, I’ll never forget you.” Now whether that’s for good or bad reasons I don’t know, but if any of us have touched others they have met or those within our group, so that they can say the same about you, then that is a sign that undoubtedly for you the tour has been a success.
That leads me to that Maori proverb that I first heard on our 2003 tour to New Zealand.
“If you were to ask me what are the three most important things in the world, I would reply; It is people, it is people, it is people.”
We have visited and experienced a range of places, environments and activities in the last 3 weeks that we may never do in such a short time span in the future, but what is of most value are the relationships and interactions that we have had and developed with others we have met or who came on tour with us.
The team coaches then made the end of tour awards;
Most improved players:
Netball: Chloe Watkins
Hockey: Sam Hughes
U16 rugby: Max Treharne
U18 rugby: Ryan Hughes
Netball: Shanaye Grant
Hockey: Freya Fleming
U16 rugby: Joe Bright
U18 rugby: Milo Fleming
Player of tour:
Netball: Charlie Baker
Hockey: Chloe Weatherley
U16 rugby: Sam Cambriani
U18 rugby: Lloyd Dudley-Jones
We finished at 9.30pm and walked back to the hotel for a meeting at 10.30pm. Final instructions were given of tomorrow’s travel arrangements and into rooms by 11pm.
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