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Sapere Aude Bequest Society

Sandow Family

Peter Sandow (OW1966) is the architect behind the redevelopment of Wesley’s iconic Boathouse that was originally designed by David McGlashan (OW1946). He is passionate about Wesley rowing and this project has been a real labour of love for him for many years.  He is also a great supporter of Wesley through the Wesley College Foundation as a donor to this project and is a member of our Sapere Aude Bequest Society. Peter believes bequests are a simple and effective way for alumni  and others to show their support of the College and he hopes that other former rowers join him in becoming bequestors.

This significant project has given him an opportunity to reflect on his family’s long association with the College:

This COVID period has been challenging on so many fronts and has affected people in different ways. Consequential impacts have revealed new realisations  – forced isolation for so many allowed times for reflection, re-evaluation of personal priorities and those relationships that have been taken for granted.
My mother, Alison Freda, passed away  last September as old age finally proved its point, coming to rest at 101. My parents had lived a vivacious, happy, entertaining life in harbourside Sydney for the last 50 years. For my brother John (OW1969),  the circumstances of her passing were entirely different to what we had been prepared for. John lives in Hobart; I was  in Melbourne and Mum was in Sydney. The COVID state boundary embargoes reduced all traditional family funeral celebrations to detached, remote bureaucratic processes.

My parents’ home remained untouched, sitting vacant and undisturbed. But there was one weekend before Christmas when the borders momentarily opened when my son Nick and I made a road trip dash to Sydney to start the alarming process  of dismantling the lifetime collection of our parents’ personal belongings. Our presence in the house was intruding. The emotional emptiness was vacuous. I tried the thin joke: ‘She’ll be back in a moment – just gone next door!’

But in our random rummaging, Nick found a treasure – a cedar box of sepia prints, which we had never seen before and certainly Mum never had ever mentioned. They were all of my father Max (OW1936), aged one through to his teens, invariably with his parents, Maudie (nee Wilson) and Les Ivan William Sandow. Posed and candid, family shots, some in his Wesley uniform, beside the Chevrolet, on picnics, in the bush at Macrae and at home,   in High Street, Glen Iris. His life, well before Mum had come into his frame.

The manner of his stance, his gaze and demeanour, the way he held his hands,  I realised I was looking at my grandchildren. The family continuum becomes inescapable, traits undeniable. A genealogical momentum ticks in perpetuity; the mould is unavoidable  and recurrent.

My Wesley education was provided at a time when competitive sport could be played as a priority over academic performances. The intense crewmanship of rowing became my social addiction. Like so many, it later became a family affair with Ben (OW1995), Nick (OW1996) and Tom (OW1999) all understanding the implications of, ‘Bow, you’re hurrying! Bow, you’re late!’

At school my passion for drawing and rendering led me to architecture. The diversity of the craft appealed, offering the endless challenge of converting temporal social structures into the enduring but adaptable built forms that can outlive the immediate generations.

Our Wesley Yarra Boathouse redevelopment has been supported by donations and with generous endowments to become ‘The Alan Mitchell Centre’, a comprehensive water-sports learning centre. Internally, the entire main recreation/gymnasium room is named ‘The Bill Crothers Room’ and the three storage bays, the ‘Ron Rosanove Bay’, the ‘Jack Joel Bay’ and the ‘John Hall Bay’.

These wonderful benefactors have contributed significantly, ensuring future generations will enjoy a living legacy (‘E’en now methinks I scent the Yarra mud!’). I am so pleased I can contribute to maintaining our family impetus and energy for the future of our Wesley generations, including my grandchildren.

Peter Sandow in front of the Boathouse
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