Farewell to the Old Aquinians and Friends Reunion Tour Group

After 15 tours to iconic WA locations between 2006 and 2022 (missing 2020 only due to Covid), the end of the line has come for the Old Aquinians and Friends Reunion Tour Group. The original group of travellers was comprised of Aquinas graduates from the 1950’s, with ‘friends’ added along the way as numbers dwindled. Fast forward to 2022 and many of the original group have passed away or now find touring too difficult due to illness or incapacity.

As reported in the December 2021 issue of Fish Magazine, the 15th tour to Margaret River in November last year was the group’s swansong tour. Since their first tour to New Norcia and Wongan Hills in 2006 - the brainchild of Bill Boekeman (’54) - the group has covered key locations between Kalbarri in the north, Albany in the south and Kalgoorlie to the east, savouring the local attractions at every stop while raising more than $60,000 for Aquinas College Bursaries along the way.

Each tour was arranged and conducted with military precision, thanks mostly to the organisational efforts of Jack (’54) and Ronda Bana. Each year a tour booklet was produced, incorporating the full tour itinerary – dates and times - the names and contact details of all the tour participants, details of all previous tours, details of all previous Foundation contributions and Helpful hints for a happy trip.

Each tour included a special dinner with a live auction of various goods donated by members of the tour group, with the proceeds of the auction - and any leftover tour fees or donations - forming the basis of the annual contribution to the Foundation.

On Thursday 20 January 2022, the College and the Foundation welcomed more than 40 past members of the group for a final, annual Foundation thank you luncheon. The event afforded the group an opportunity to come together for a formal windup that included presentations to key tour group players, speeches and the handing over of their final Foundation cheque for $4,915.

On accepting the cheque - along with a special commemorative plaque - Principal David McFadden thanked the group for their tremendous contributions to Aquinas College Bursaries over many years, contributions that have directly supported the mission of the College to educate boys who would otherwise not be able to attend Aquinas.

Although there was a feeling of great sadness at the closing of an era, there was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the fun and the camaraderie shared by all who took part in the tours over 15 years, as well as a great sense of pride in helping many young boys to receive an Aquinas education.

From the College, a big thank you to everyone involved. Your generosity has provided many bright and deserving boys with the opportunity to realise their dreams and change their lives for the better. We wish you all good health and look forward to other opportunities to welcome you back to the College.

Louise Symonds
Executive Officer | Aquinas College Foundation