Les looks back on his long association with St Peter's College.
At 90, Les Roughan is still playing an active part in the district and his keen memory goes way back beyond the time when St Peter’s College was just a dream for Catholic families in Southland.
With five sons and two daughters, the prospect of sending them all out of the area to boarding school was quite a daunting one. When the idea of building a school in Gore was being turned into a reality, Les was happy to contribute in any way he could and son Trevor became a first day pupil. Les was delighted that the school was co-educational, as it meant that his daughters could attend as well and the sliding scale of fees, was a great help to families with several children.
Les and his wife Joan and family lived at Mataura at the time and the arrival of the Rosminian priests in the area meant that Mataura got its own parish, much to his satisfaction.
When the school was up and running, a PTFA was formed and Les became its second chairman, after John Finn. Successful fundraising by the PTFA helped to develop the school and keep it running and the new hall was built while Les was chairman.
Les has fond memories of the many “characters” who peopled St Peter’s over the years. Brother Ted in particular, he describes as “like an atomic bomb” when it came to money. One day he remembers him calling a meeting of the PTFA and announcing that they were going to have a Fair. This wasn’t going to be a small affair, but would be constructed like a township with proper shops - and so in the end it was.
Brother Ted never let them back off – his philosophy was that you had to spend to raise money and he brought a film from England to show them the kind of thing he had in mind. The Fair has gone on to prove itself year after year as a most successful fundraiser.
After three years of heading up the PTFA, Les held the role of Chairman of the Fair Committee for twelve years. In its second year they insured the day of the Fair against bad weather, but the sun shone, so they didn’t go to those lengths again.
Supporting St Peter’s was very much a family affair and his wife Joan also went on to Chair the PTFA at the time the new tennis courts were opened. Fundraising for the chapel building came next and Joan volunteered Les to make the steps up to the chapel. When he had a look at the site, Les knew how to do the concreting, but couldn’t work out how to box it all in to start with. Time to call in a local builder to help set it all up and then Les and other volunteers were able to lay the concrete. The steps are still in daily use today.
Les’s activities weren’t confined to his “day job” of farming and to the school. He has had a lifelong association with dog trialing and still works four dogs today. He also found time to be on the Te Tipua School Committee for twenty years.
Since the 1970s, not only have six of his children passed through the St Peter’s, but they have been followed by a dozen grandchildren, including Kylie Morrison and Amy Weir, both Head Girls. Amy later returned as a member of staff. They have all benefited from the great input of that earlier generation, in particular, stalwarts like Les.