Jibe drove Sir David to success

Domenic Romano, Phil Robinson, Sir David Gascoigne, and Raemon Saunders.
Domenic Romano, Phil Robinson, Sir David Gascoigne, and Raemon Saunders.

One of Marlborough's successful sons was once told he would amount to nothing more than a ditch digger.

Instead, Sir David Gascoigne went on to become a highly successful commercial lawyer, chairman of the New Zealand International Arts festival, the New Zealand Film Commission and the New Zealand Opera foundation.

He was also headed up New Zealand's winning bid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup, was a member of the board of trustees for Te Papa for 10 years and held numerous company directorships.

However, he said the turning point in his life came at the end of his fourth form year at Marlborough Boys' College, where years of laziness at school caught up with him and he failed almost all of his exams.

"I felt completely ashamed. A careers adviser, who I won't name, told me I was a fool and I should get used to maybe being a plumber if I was lucky, or more likely a ditch digger."

Although he still resents the comments, the thought scared him into working hard and by the time he finished at the college three years later he was the school dux.

Sir David was back in Blenheim on Thursday to speak at a function for the Marlborough College Charitable Foundation. He is the foundation's patron. During his address he spoke about the importance of his education at Marlborough Boys' and shared stories of growing up in Blenheim.

"We lived in Lakings Rd. There were ditches along the sides of the road which froze in winter, so to show we were tough as soon as we got outside we would take off our shoes and socks and run on the ice all the way to [Springlands] School."

The audience laughed as he spoke about a school prank changing the Marlborough College sign on the second story above the school entrance to read Carlborough Mollege and about the advantages of the school being co-educational at the time.

"In your senior years you could get free biology lessons, if you could find a willing partner. Whites Bay was a good spot for those."

He also spoke about the school motto, virtuem doctrina parat/learning prepares for life, which he summed up as saying what you learn shapes your character.

The five lessons he learned from school were the value of logical thinking, the power of clear expression, the need to see things through, being enthusiastic and positive and to stand up straight.

The Marlborough Express