A visionary and innovative teacher who championed the arts and inspired students to follow their creative passions has left a lasting legacy.
Former Warrnambool College teacher Peter McNeill, who taught at the school for more than 30 years before he retired in 2020, recently died, aged 63.
The arts department head was responsible for inspiring thousands of students who went on to forge careers in architecture, drafting, graphic design and photography.
Mr McNeill had Motor Neurone Disease and died at home on June 1. He leaves behind wife Leah, children Cameron and Hayley and granddaughter Isobel.
College principal David Clift said Mr McNeill's death had been deeply felt with 'Macca' a much-loved friend and colleague.
Staff remembered him as a teacher who treated all students equally, "giving each one an opportunity to learn without judgment or prejudice".
They said the passionate photographer was a visionary and "before his time" with his initiatives. "Peter lived locally but thought globally, exposing his students to multiple layers of inspiration," they said.
"He epitomised the importance of creative thinking and sparked a passion for problem solving in many young minds.
"Not only was he inspirational - he was very persuasive, always focused with the students at the heart of decisions and outcomes."
Mr McNeill also valued learning that came from making mistakes. He would say "accidents can lead to amazing and new outcomes".
As a school council member he contributed to the college's future direction and governance and helped implement its highly successful house system.
He proudly created the college logo at its inception in 1994, which is still in use.
More recently, and before he became too unwell, Mr McNeill established a college 'Design is Difference' scholarship for student excellence and innovation.
A dedicated golfer and Warrnambool Golf Club member, Mr McNeill was as equally passionate about his beloved Richmond Tigers.
Bells Beach and surfing have also been a much-loved pastime, with Mr McNeill attending the event since the 1970s.
The prized surfing trophy made its way to his Warrnambool home this year, when Mr McNeill was unable to attend one of his favourite events due to his illness.
"This year the Rip Curl Pro Perpetual surfing trophy was delivered to his door, organised by his beloved daughter Hayley," they said.
The staff members recalled how Mr McNeill was gifted a signed competition jersey of Brazillian professional surfer Gabriel Medina and a digital photo frame featuring images from Bells Mr McNeill had taken three years ago, including one of Medina.
"It was a cherished occasion during a period which was very challenging," they said.
"Peter was a colleague, mentor and very dear friend. Peter will always be in our hearts."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.