by GERARD DUIGNAN
The St Patrick’s College Old Boys’ Association’s Old Boy of the Year for 2018 is Jan Roy-Wojciechowski (aka John Roy).
Mr Roy-Wojciechowski is a Member of The New Zealand Order of Merit, and was also decorated during the Polish President’s visit in August 2018 with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
When he was aged 6, during World War II, Soviet Russia invaded his village in Poland and deported his family to Siberia. He came to New Zealand in 1944 as an orphan, one of 733 Polish “Pahiatua children”. A short video tells their story https://bit.ly/2yD8GEw
He boarded at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream from 1947 – 1951. A further 28 refugee boys attended St Patrick’s College, Wellington as day-boys.
The Felix Kane Cup is awarded to Old Boys “who have promoted the betterment of the people of New Zealand, fostered the Catholic way of life and carried the principles taught at St Patrick’s colleges into the community”. Amongst other business ventures, Mr Roy-Wojciechowski co-founded Mainzeal, at one time employing 1300 staff. He was honorary consul for Poland in New Zealand and established a Polish Heritage Trust museum in Howick. He tells his story in the book “A Strange Outcome”.
Mr Roy-Wojciechowski was accompanied by his wife Valerie when he was presented with his award by 2017 recipient Gerard Tully at the annual gathering at The Boatshed, Taranaki Street wharf on November 2.
The St Patrick’s College Old Boys’ Association decided on a new approach to their annual gathering this year. A Mix’N’Mingle function was organised at The Boatshed, Taranaki Street wharf on the first Friday of November. The new format – fewer speeches and a less formal approach than the annual sit-down dinner – was welcomed by old boys and staff from both St Patrick’s colleges (Wellington and Silverstream). Guest speakers Jamie and Will Williams of the Wellington Hospitality Group told their story of business success.
In addition, a new award was presented – the Service Blue for special efforts during the current year. One each were awarded to Nic Fitsemanu (Town) and Manuel Dalton (Stream). They had organised old boys’ rugby teams for a game in July alongside the annual winter exchange for multiple sports which is held between the two colleges. This year they played at Kilbirnie for the PB McMahon cup – the captain of the first First XV in 1885.