Home' Capricornus Quarterly : CQ July 2018 Contents Queen's Birthday
Richard Vagg (RGS 1990, below) was awarded
the Distinguished Ser vice Cross (DSC) for
distinguished command and leadership in
warlike operations as the Commander of Task
Group Taji IV in Iraq on Operation OKRA, from
December 2016 to June 2017. This operation
significantly enhanced training for Iraqi forces
during a period of protracted combat in Iraq.
Dr John Shera to be named
Distinguished Past Student in August
The Rockhampton Grammar School Past
Students Association and School will bestow
the title of Distinguished Past Student upon Dr
John Arthur McKelvey Shera at a Gala Dinner
and Awards ceremony at RGS on 4 August.
This year the School will introduce similar
honours to past staff of RGS, with three staff
to be announced as recipients on the night.
Dr John Arthur McKelvey Shera (4 August 1913–
26 July 1998) attended RGS in 1930 and 1931.
Raised in the Rockhampton district, Dr Shera
graduated Sydney University in 1939, with a deep
interest in surgery and women’s health. A resident
medical officer at the Ipswich Hospital, his career
transferred to the World War II battle fields of
Papua New Guinea as a doctor on the Kokoda Trail.
Shera was Regimental Medical Officer
with the Australian Army Medical Corps,
involved in battles at Isurava, Sanananda
and Gona. He was with 39th Battalion which
made initial contact with the Japanese.
For his bravery he was awarded a Member
of the British Empire. The citation states:
During the attack on Isurava Captain Shera,
accompanied by the chaplain, brought in a
wounded man while under heavy enemy fire. He
gave medical attention to the wounded under
fire and spent periods of five to eight nights and
days in almost continuous attention to battle
casualties. His exceptional devotion to duty was
a considerable factor in maintaining the spirit
of the battalion (as published in The Morning
Bulletin on Friday, 24 December, 1943).
His children recall their father explaining
that his experience as a doctor prior to the
war as well as his age (he was older than most
fellow soldiers) enabled him to cope with the
trauma of war better than some others.
Shera ended the war on Moratai and returned
to Central Queensland to practice in Mt Morgan
and Rockhampton before relocating to Ipswich.
In 1996 Shera achieved 50 years’ membership
of the Australian Medical Association.
Dr Shera was also in the nation’s spotlight
in 1986. His daughter-in -law, Davida Allen,
painted an Archibald Prize winning portrait
of Dr Shera watering his garden.
Sam’s current goals
Samantha Blanchard (RGS 2011)
had dreams of rowing for Australia.
Fast forward to 2018 and Sam is working
towards hopeful Australian kayak team
selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic
Games while also juggling her demanding
job as an air traffic controller in Brisbane.
Sam is building towards next year’s K1 500m
World Championships and World Cup events
with the final Olympic selection in March 2020.
“ Th is wasn’t really planned,’’ Sam said.
A series of injury setbacks forced Sam
out of rowing and looking at her future.
It was during that time that Sam’s
mum suggested trying kayaking.
One door closes another opens.
“I fell in love with it.
“And that ’s despite kayaking not
being exactly the same as rowing.
“ Everyone told me it would be really easy.
You’re a rower, you’ll be fine,’’ Sam said.
“ I jumped into a K1 (a racing kayak)
and thought this is not the same and
stepped back to a TK (halfway between
recreation and sprint) boat.
“Sprint kayaks are extremely unstable
and I spent a lot of the first couple of
months falling out and having to swim.
“ Rowing is your hands, feet, butt and head
moving back and forth, and there’s a safety
position if you feel you are about to fall out.
“ In kayaking your legs are moving around,
your torso is rotating, your arms are always
moving. There’s no safety position if you
lose your balance, you are in the water.
“ I’m enjoying the challenge.”
This time last year the Queensland Academy
of Sport contacted Sam to participate in their
junior programme, Prospecting for Gold.
“They take athletes from other disciplines
and try them in a new sport with a goal of
qualifying for the 2020 Olympics,’’ Sam said.
When Sam isn’t working to improve her
500m times she sits at Brisbane Airport
monitoring air traffic across northern Australia
and is regularly in contact with Indonesia
and Port Moresby air traffic controllers.
Sam works with “high fliers and low fliers”.
Hilary Fay (RGS 2011) is back at RGS, this time
as a Year 3 teacher (Semester 2). “It ’s been
great seeing how the School has changed,
seeing how supportive the staff are and it’s a
really enjoyable place to work,’’ said Hilary, who
is in her final year of a Bachelor of Education
(Primary) at the University of Queensland.
Hilary’s family also has a long history of
educating; her aunt is a primary teacher, her
grandma was a teacher and great grandpa
was a Primary School Principal in Warwick.
Recognising outstanding achievements
and contributions by Past Students.
Distinguished Past Student
Distinguished Past Student
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