On Saturday, 11 November, St Paul’s Collegiate School proudly introduced the Collegians Awards, an annual event celebrating outstanding alumni. The inaugural awardee, Professor John Ormiston, ONZM, stands as a distinguished physician and innovator, marking a historic moment for the School.
Professor Ormiston, a proud Collegian of Sargood and Williams House from 1961 to 1965, shared the evening with his family, including son Harry, daughter-in-law Jamie, and their three children. Attendees from Professor Ormiston’s school years, such as his close friend Richard Harman, added a touch of nostalgia to the occasion. The room buzzed with past friends and patients, including former headmaster Grant Lander and Professor Ormiston’s 1964 housemaster, Mr Pat Plant, alongside his wife Dianna.
The event unfolded with a heartfelt tribute, as students Caitlin Lou, Venessa Joyce, Jackson Mackwood, and Seumas Eade serenaded the audience with two of John’s favourite songs, Hey Jude and Hallelujah. A touching video and photo montage highlighted key moments in Professor Ormiston’s life, setting the stage for the award presentation.
The citation for the award encapsulated Professor Ormiston’s extraordinary journey. From graduating at the top of his medical class at Otago University to revolutionizing interventional cardiology in New Zealand, his legacy includes pioneering technologies like transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) and the establishment of Intra Limited. His leadership, medical publications, and numerous accolades, including Officer of the NZ Order of Merit (ONZM) and the prestigious Ethica Award, underscored his global impact on cardiology.
During his acceptance speech, Professor Ormiston reminisced about his days at St Paul’s, acknowledging the positive changes and improvements that have occurred, instilling confidence in the school’s future. The evening was hosted by Headmaster Ben Skeen, who paid tribute to John and reflected on the school’s legacy of pioneers, encouraging current students to build upon this rich heritage.
A question-and-answer session allowed Professor Ormiston to pay homage to his late wife, Dianna, and share insights with future students, advising them to "work like hell" when pursuing their careers and dreams.
To conclude the evening, the Heads of School, Lucy O’Meeghan and Matthew Chanwai, shared insights into what it means to them to soon become Collegians. Lucy aptly shared a Winston Churchill quote, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Matthew then performed Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in an incredible performance.
The students' final honour was a haka of respect to Professor Ormiston, a powerful and fitting tribute to an extraordinary individual whose journey will forever resonate within the St Paul’s community.