Ken, I note you were born and educated in the western suburbs of Melbourne before making your home in Terang. How many years have you lived in Terang?
I moved there with my wife Julie - 34 years ago. We purchased 20 acres of ground and have developed the sight over the years. It offers a lovely peaceful environment. We've got horses, cattle, dogs, cats and other animals.
Where was your first placement as a school teacher?
My first placement was at Derrinallum Primary School in 1989. It was a stand-alone school and had about 100 students. I found working there a wonderful experience. I then went to Garvoc Primary School which had only 15 students. Sadly, the school is closed today. The small schools were the hubs of the local communities but with farms getting bigger and rural communities getting smaller and families not having as many children, the decision was made by the government to close the smaller rural schools. We used to have large numbers of parents and family for things like Christmas break-up, open days or education week but it was all about change and it was decided the school had to close. My next placement was at Mortlake College. I stayed there seven years - teaching at grade five and six levels. I then went back to Derrinallum P12 for one year before going to Cobden Primary School and then to Noorat Primary School where I spent the next 20 years before retiring from teaching duties in 2018.
Ken, away from teaching you've been heavily involved in running and in particular around Terang. How did your running career come about?
My dad Ivan ran with the Footscray Harriers. When I was eight-years-old, a doctor suggested I take up either running or swimming as I was suffering with asthmatic symptoms. The decision was a no-brainer for dad. I joined the Yarraville West Little Athletics Club at the Williamstown centre. I enjoyed a lot of success at state level in 100 and 200 metre sprints culminating in captaining the Victorian team at the Australian championships which took place in Sydney. A fellow team member was Jill McKenzie (Gittins) also from the Williamstown centre and after I finished my little athletics career I joined the East Melbourne Harriers under the guidance of renowned coach Neville Sillitoe. This offered me the chance to train with Australian champions Peter Norman, Gary Holdsworth and Greg Lewis.
How did you perform with your running at school levels?
I was fortunate to win numerous Victorian High School 100 and 200-metre championships and All School championships. I was selected in the under 17 East Coast championships which were held in Sydney and I was lucky enough to hold the record for 100 metres, in my late teens and early 20s I ran in A grade and A reserves for East Melbourne Harriers before running at Olympic Park. I caught up with Jill McKenzie at Geelong Teachers College and her husband Kerrin and they suggested my wife Julie, baby Nellie and I move to Terang. It's proven to be a wonderful move. I never trained or ran for a few years but I stayed active until I took part in the 2002 World Masters Games in Melbourne with my good friend Richard Wearmouth and Jill. I thoroughly enjoyed getting back into the training and the group of us decided to take part in the Teachers Games which were to be held in Ballarat. Richard and Jill came home with gold medals but unfortunately I pulled a hamstring in the 100 metre sprint and couldn't take my place in the World Masters.
Did you ever take part in running at the Stawell Gift carnival at Easter?
No. I never competed as a professional runner. I decided to stay as an amateur. I used to love going to Stawell to watch other runners compete but as I said I chose to run as an amateur.
The Terang Gift is on Sunday, December 4, one day after the running of the gift at Warrnambool. What year did the Terang Gift begin?
Local doctor Tim Fitzpatrick suggested we form a running club in Terang 20 years ago and we're still here today on the back of hard work from people like Jill and Richard plus other volunteers who have put in countless hours to ensure the event is a success. I'll never forget the first meeting to talk about setting up the running club was at Tim's house and we had about 15 people turn up for that meeting. We held a few picnic gifts for a couple of years before the club grew in size. The club has been extremely lucky to have the support of some wonderful local sponsors. They have ensured the event continues to grow in size. The running season only started a few weeks ago. The weather has impacted the start of the season. Essendon and Meadowglen have had their events and then we've got Warrnambool and us before the runners go on to Waverley. There's a lot of the runners that will be competing at the Terang Gift meeting who are preparing to run at Stawell next Easter.
What is this year's Terang Gift worth in prizemoney?
It's got prizemoney of $1100 and so does the women's gift. It's free entry into the Terang Gift which will be held at the Terang Recreation Reserve. We've named various races at this year's Terang Gift about people who have played significant roles to running in Terang. Jack McCunnie, Tony Arundell, Laurie Heffernan, Jill McKenzie, Richard Wearmouth have races named after them and this year's the first time one of the races is named after me. I consider it a great thrill and I'm honoured to be acknowledged.
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