On Monday at the BJP office in Sydney a small group gathered to hear Heather Henri share stories about Christian Bjelke-Petersen, known as “The Colonel”, who founded our company in 1892. Heather has many fond memories of Christian and was able to share much insight into his personality, beliefs, values and philosophy on life.
A small group came to listen, among them several teachers who began their Physie teaching careers more than 50 years ago: Val Connors, Joyce Crouchman, Beverley Edwards, Betty Graham and June Renaud. Val travelled all the way from Newcastle and, apart from Heather, she is only person we know who has actually been in the presence of Christian (although Betty remembers being judged at a competition by him when she was 9 years old).
Val did her Physical Culture teacher training at the Bjelke-Petersen institute in Sydney and remembers being instructed to “Stand back! The Colonel is coming…” She said that Christian always insisted on excellence and near enough was never good enough – a philosophy that has indeed informed and directed her life.
It was also wonderful to see some new teachers who are right at the beginning of their Physie teaching careers, having just opened a new club this year. For everyone, it was reassuring to discover that the values Christian upheld of discipline and culture still inform what we do today as we continue to search for the perfect balance of sport and artistic performance, and strive for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Heather outside Christian’s the house where Christian lived in Pymble, Sydney