Old Boys do­nate to ‘grate­ful’ school

Central Leader - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

Brothers Chris and John Lid­dell have such fond mem­o­ries of their school they have given it $1 mil­lion.

The Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School old boys have made the gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tion as seed money for the newly-founded Cen­te­nary En­dow­ment Fund.

The school aims to raise $10 mil­lion over the next eight years as the state high school ap­proaches its cen­te­nary in 2022.

The goal is to use the in­ter­est and pro­ceeds for on­go­ing fund­ing for stu­dent and staff schol­ar­ships and in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments.

John Lid­dell says there are sev­eral rea­sons why the pair de­cided to do­nate the money, but there is one rea­son par­tic­u­larly close to his heart.

‘‘The per­sonal rea­son is the sup­port that we re­ceived in 1973 when our fa­ther died un­ex­pect­edly,’’ he says.

‘‘We were in very

dif­fi­cult

cir- cum­stances and I thought I was go­ing to have to leave school and get a job, be­cause the fam­ily needed some­one to be work­ing. And I came in to see the head­mas­ter who told me I couldn’t do that.’’

With the prin­ci­pal’s guid­ance John stayed at school and joined the First XV, who pitched in and helped the Lid­dell fam­ily move house.

‘‘I still keep in con­tact with those group of boys 40 years later,’’ he says.

Nowa­days John and Chris are high-fly­ers.

For­mer MAGS dux Chris, 55, has lived in the United States for the last decade and worked as the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer for Mi­crosoft, Gen­eral Mo­tors and In­ter­na­tional Pa­per.

Last year he took up a key role with Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mitt Rom­ney and is now plan­ning his next ca­reer move.

John, 58, is a top army of­fi­cer who has served the New Zealand De­fence Force for nearly 40 years.

The pair started Lid­dell Schol­ar­ships at the school a cou­ple of years ago and have been pleased to see stu­dents and teach­ers blos­som­ing as a re­sult.

Roughly half of their

lat­est dona­tion will be used to con­tinue the Lid­dell Schol­ar­ships and the re­main­der will kick off the Cen­te­nary En­dow­ment Fund.

The brothers hope their lat­est dona­tion will en­cour­age oth­ers to con­trib­ute.

‘‘We both be­lieve ed­u­ca­tion is greatly im­por­tant for the health and fu­ture of New Zealand, so now we can con­trib­ute to the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in a school that we both had a great time at,’’ Chris says.

Head­mas­ter Dale Bur­den says the school roll sits at about 2700 and grows about 3 per cent each year.

The money will ben­e­fit many stu­dents, he says.

‘‘It’s very unique for a state school to have this level of sup­port from our Old Boy com­mu­nity, which is fan­tas­tic,’’ he says. ‘‘We are very grate­ful.’’ The Lid­dell brothers will be re­turn­ing to the school in March for the of­fi­cial launch of the MAGS Foun­da­tion and the Cen­te­nary En­dow­ment Fund.

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

Sup­port­ive sib­lings: Brothers Chris Lid­dell, left, and John Lid­dell have do­nated $1 mil­lion to Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School to help fu­ture stu­dents and teach­ers.

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