The Origins of the McCleland Trophy at the Victoria Park High School

It was probably when speaking to Joan Clark about her book on the history of VP – Victoria Park School – that I came to hear about the McCleland Trophy. Fortunately my kind cousins provided the details. 

This blog fills a lacuna in the McCleland history. 

Main picture: Victoria Park High School

Origins of the Trophy

According to Fay Forbes, this trophy emanated, “Because our entire family, (Barry, Graham, Roy, Jenny and I) had all been pupils at VPHS, and had benefited from being educated there, had been active and successful sportsmen and women, and together with our parents, Auret and Bryce, had “served and contributed” to the ‘spirit’ of the school.

Fay Forbes

When I matriculated, our parents – together with the legendary Ken Wright – decided to donate two trophies. One was called the Ken Wright Trophy (which was to be awarded to a girl) and the other was called the McCleland trophy (which was to be awarded to a boy).  Both trophies were for “outstanding service to the school.” I was awarded the Ken Wright trophy in my Matric year [1973] and John Davies was awarded the McCleland trophy


Reunion of the Class of ‘65

Barry recalls the reunion in May 2005 as follows: “I matriculated way back in 1965 and in May 2005, the Class of ’65 had their 50-year reunion at the school. It was arranged that all the “oldies” would gather outside the school hall before the start of the morning assembly. In the meantime all the current pupils had gathered inside the hall and as we started entering, everyone stood up and gave us an endless standing ovation. It was absolutely incredible and emotional. 

After the assembly, we all had a tour of the school and then we met in the TC Thorpe Hall. It was then that I saw these two big McCleland and Ken Wright Awards plaques with all the awardee names since 1973. 

Barry McCleland

I discussed these with Mike Vermaak, the Principal and he had so many positive things to say about these two trophies and he said that they were the most prestigious awards at the school. But I was devastated when I learnt that the winners of such a prestigious trophy only received a little wooden plaque and a book. 

I immediately decided to donate money to the school’s Trust Fund and that all future winners of the McCleland Trophy would receive a respectable and worthy prize which would be purchased from the yearly interest earned from the funds.

 Mike was very appreciative but expressed concern that it would be unfair for the girl receiving the Ken Wright trophy not to receive a similar prize to that of the boys. And unfortunately Ken Wright had passed away and his sons had immigrated to Australia and he had no way of contacting them.

I understood Mike’s dilemma and in order to resolve the issue, I decided to donate the same amount to the school for the future winners of the Ken Wright Trophy. 


Mr Mike Vermaak

Mike Vermaak has been an incredible Principal at the school and I know that Dad would have wanted to do exactly what I did for the McCleland Trophy to ensure that all future pupils aspire to work for such a special trophy.



Fay Forbes – Origins of the Award

Barry McCleland – Reunion of the Class of ‘65

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