How Ken Lord’s gift to Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, South Australia, has changed the lives of boys from the Outback.

 

A regular sight at Prince Alfred College is a well-worn white Subaru which has made many trips to the Flinders Ranges, north of Adelaide. Behind the wheel is its owner, Ken Lord, an old scholar of the College, and endower of the Ken Lord Family Boarding Scholarship.

Ken is now aged 92 but still visits the College regularly from his nearby home. He is amongst friends, including the Headmaster, groundsmen, laundry staff, and administration and teaching staff. His arrival at the College is quite a progress as he warmly greets people he knows, exchanges news, and asks about their work. All of these people know Ken, and appreciate his generosity in funding scholarships. Ken also appreciates these people as they offer an insight into the operation of a school with over 1,100 students, a far cry from the College he attended during World War II.

Most importantly, the interaction Ken has with the recipients of his scholarship (he calls them ‘my boys’) brings him enormous pleasure, and in turn the boys respect him and enjoy his company.

It is with pride I write the story of Ken’s generosity from my perspective as a philanthropy professional, friend and as a future scholarship endower myself.

WHO IS KEN LORD?

Ken grew up on Balcanoona Station, 640 kilometres north of Adelaide, near Arkaroola in the Flinders Ranges. His early schooling took the form of correspondence lessons supervised by his mother, as these were the days before School of the Air. Ken once told me, “Mother struggled with me as a pupil and lessons only took place when she could find me.”

Ken was delivered by his parents to the Preparatory School boarding dormitory on a hot February day in 1940, still vivid in Ken’s mind as he was not allowed to take his waterbag which was mounted on the side of his father’s old Buick. Without the freedom and independence he had known at Balcanoona, Ken recalls the resentment he felt at PAC where he was once again treated like a boy. Ken remained at the College until 1944, and by his own admission he didn’t enjoy his time as a student.

Ken’s family were leading pastoralists in South Australia and owned property across northern areas of the state. He remained a station property owner until the 1970s, when he sold out and concentrated on family investments. His retirement years were spent travelling with his late wife, Gwenda, and now with the next generations of his family.

Decades on the hardships of life in remote areas remain firmly in Ken’s mind, and his strong links with station life gives him a deep understanding of the challenges facing families in educating their children. He admires the people who live and bring up children in these conditions.

It was this appreciation and desire to help which prompted Ken to pursue the concept of endowing a scholarship with me in 2008. This desire was supported by Ken’s children, Heather and John, thus the Ken Lord Family Boarding Scholarship was launched.

THE KEN LORD FAMILY BOARDING SCHOLARSHIP

Ken Lord with the latest scholarship recipient who will commence Year 7 in 2020. Ken always gives new boys an inscribed copy of ‘A History of Prince Alfred College’

The Scholarship was established through the PAC Foundation Scholarship Fund, which is the College’s vehicle to work with philanthropic members of its community who wish to help a student, while also conferring tax deductibility. Ken gave careful consideration to the type of student he wished to support and their personal situation, and a memorandum of understanding between himself and the Fund was prepared and signed.

The Ken Lord Family Boarding Scholarship is awarded annually and offers significant assistance with boarding and tuition fees. While advertised nationally, preference is given to applicants from remote South Australia and the Tibooburra, Wentworth and Broken Hill areas, with distance from a secondary school and access to school bus services also considered. Reference is also made to the applicant most likely to benefit from being offered the opportunity, financial considerations, and academic and other achievements.

 

ENDOWING THE SCHOLARSHIP

Ken’s scholarship plan was thoroughly worked through with his accountant to ensure his vision of a scholarship endowed in perpetuity would be established. Initially, a gift of $1,000,000 was envisaged with a recipient awarded every two years. Investments would be managed by the Foundation and income earned used to fund the scholarship, which offered a generous remission of 75% of boarding and tuition fees for a student from Year 8 to Year 12.

As the years progressed and Ken’s appreciation for the results his scholarship was achieving grew, the College and Ken discussed its expansion and continuing the endowment beyond the original gift. In recent years the scholarship has been expanded to an annual award, now covering Year 7 for students in NSW, where School of the Air finishes at Year 6, and funds up to six students at any one time.

The expansion of the scholarship to this scale has only been possible through Ken’s ongoing generosity. This specific fund is invested through the College’s investment arm and income received meets the cost of the scholarship. As Ken considers the recipients as ‘my boys’, he sought and obtained the support of the College in what he termed a ‘sibling discount’ on the remission provided by his endowment.

KEN’S ONGOING INVOLVEMENT

Ken’s scholarship journey has given him many rewards, including unexpected ones. Assisting a student is an obvious reward, as is the pleasure of seeing them achieve. Perhaps less expected is the regular interaction with the recipients, who seek him out on his visits and, at the request of their parents, he has come to know through a regular gathering.

As I’ve already alluded to, a wide range of College staff have come into contact with Ken, and they have all played a role in his understanding of the life of the place. The Headmaster and Foundation President are obvious people in ensuring Ken enjoys his links with the College. However, a question about a new piece of equipment on the oval resulted in Ken visiting the College’s grounds and maintenance facility, where this most practical of men could ask practical questions of those who could answer them. On another occasion, Ken met the staff of the College’s health centre and laundry facility, where he was amazed at the quantity of washing 150 boarders generate!

Ken with his boys and milkshakes at his 92nd birthday.

The highlight of the year for the recipients of the Scholarship is joining Ken for morning tea on his birthday in March. While the Headmaster and adult friends are present, for Ken it is all about sharing the day with ‘my boys’ and hearing about their school and home lives.

Ken also has an annual review of the finances of the scholarship with his accountant and the Foundation’s Treasurer.

 

HONOURING KEN’S CONTRIBUTION

Ken isn’t the sort of man who would want his portrait painted and hung in pride of place! However, in recognition of his philanthropy, a wing of the College’s new boarding house (opening in June 2019) has been named the Lord Wing. His generosity is acknowledged on the honour roll for his scholarship, and he was invited to ring the historic bell from the old kitchen at the opening of the new dining hall in 2017, which he did with both pride and gusto.

IN APPRECIATION OF KEN

Ken’s gift to Prince Alfred College has changed the lives of boys from the Outback. His vision and acumen have established something very special. Working with Ken for the entire journey has been the highlight of my professional life, and seeing the far-reaching benefits of his philanthropy never fails to both amaze and inspire me. A year or so ago, Ken said he hoped that one of his legacies would be a group of boys who appreciated that while he funded the scholarship, I was the one who made it work. I will always deeply value this generous observation.

Ken Lord and David Cornish.


David Cornish
David commenced at Prince Alfred College in 2001, working on alumni relations and annual giving. He has been Executive Officer of the PAC Foundation for 12 years. He is particularly proud of the Foundation Scholarship Fund, established in 2008, and which is now approaching $15 million in value.

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