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Q&A with new TSS Headmaster, father, surfer and cradle Anglican, Andrew Hawkins

Spotlight Q&A

Meet Andrew Hawkins and find out what projects he is currently working on, what delights him most about his students, which person of faith inspires him the most and what he does in his free time

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TSS Old Boy Andrew Hawkins was recently appointed as the school’s new Headmaster. He is a father to four children and a committed Anglican. 

How long have you been involved in the Anglican Church and in what roles?

I was baptised at St Luke’s, Emerald and confirmed at The Southport School (TSS) in 1993. I have also been a Liturgical Assistant at TSS since 2006.

What are your current Anglican Church roles?

I currently attend St Peter’s Church in Southport and was recently appointed Headmaster at TSS.

What projects and activities are you currently working on?

My year will be focussed around succeeding in my first year as Headmaster. I am doing as much as I can with Nice Coffee Co, which gives all of its proceeds to funding St John’s School in Kenya.

Deputy Headmaster of TSS Andrews Hawkins with students during the building of the school’s lecture theatre in 2016

What are your plans and goals for the next 12 months?

My plan is to spend as much time in the Headmaster’s seat as possible. COVID-19 restrictions on travel will hopefully have a silver lining in that I can spend as much time as possible here at the school.

The Southport School and St Hilda’s School are brother and sister schools – how will your schools build on this relationship this year?

We hope to act on a united front as schools. We will be doing our country trips together, TSS will host the 2021 St Hilda’s Musical, and we will be even be combining for some executive meetings this year.

What delights you the most about your students?

Their honesty. It never ceases to amaze me and their honesty is why I love working in schools.

“This is a photo from a visit to the Prep School this morning – they had hundreds of questions for the new Headmaster!” (Andrew Hawkins, 5 February 2021)

What are the primary strengths of the Church and what is the best way to make the most of these for the benefit of our young people?

I feel the greatest strength of the Anglican Church is that is does not pretend to have all of the answers for Christianity. It allows those of Anglican faith to have their own personal journey and find the answers of faith on a personal level.

What is the benefit of the Anglican Church ethos and approach for your students?

That we can focus on life and how it combines with faith. We can tackle some contemporary issues such as ethnicity, racism and sexism within our Life and Faith classes and how these are managed throughout the stories of the Bible.

Can you tell us a little about your personal faith journey?

I was raised by two parents who attended church every Sunday and being sent to TSS was due to their Anglican faith. I have had very supportive Chaplains here at TSS as a student and as a teacher, serving alongside Father Bryan and Father Jonathan.

“My mum, Janine Hawkins, and me on my first day as a TSS student in 1992” (Andrew Hawkins)

How does your faith inspire you and shape your outlook, life choices and character?

With so much doom and gloom around COVID-19 and the restrictions it has put on our lives, my faith has continually inspired me to stay positive. I took up surfing in my late twenties and that has allowed me to have many spiritual moments in the ocean that have increased my positivity exponentially.

What is your favourite Bible verse and why?

Psalm 23, particularly verse 4:

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me.”

I say this a lot, especially when I am nervous – like facing big waves or before I used to play sport. God is with me to support me, even though I feel fear.

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

My Grandma Coralie. She is amazing. Calm, quiet, strong, funny. All the traits I want to be remembered for.

What is the kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

We do a rally each year to get all of the boys to hand in their old rugby and soccer boots. We then send them to Kenya (Kickers for Kenya). The first year we did it we got to the last pair and there were two boys left in the line. The boy in front took the left boot and gave the right boot to the boy behind him so no one missed out. The smile on their faces running around with one boot each was priceless, as was the gesture.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?

My best mate’s dad, the late Tony Sharpe, told me that “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

I surf and listen to podcasts – The Howie Games is my go to.

What book have you given away most as a gift and why?

To have and to hold, Walter Mikac’s autobiography. He lost his wife and two daughters in the Port Arthur massacre. He also founded the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, which supports our child protection policies and internet safety for our current students. Incredible story of resilience and perseverance.

Where do you do your best thinking?

I have a home gym, as my wife is a runner, so I do most of my thinking in there early in the morning when Zoe is out running and the kids are still asleep.

“My family at Hannaford in Queensland at sunset – from left to right, Mac (10), Isla (12), Harriet (5), my wife Zoe, Mia (7) and me”

What’s your best childhood memory?

Riding my motorbike with my brother around the river next to our house in Emerald, Central Queensland. Being elected School Captain of my primary school was pretty exciting, too.

If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

I watch the Flakefleet Primary School Britain’s Got Talent audition to ‘Don’t stop me know’ by Queen. Search it on YouTube if you haven’t watched it. It reminds what my role is as a teacher.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

I downloaded Love Actually for the family to watch in the lead up to Christmas. My youngest is five years old and my eldest is 12. Within the first minute they learnt four new words that I have never taught them! When the singer keeps getting his line wrong, he lets out four profanities. I promptly turned the film off, but had to laugh – not the best idea from Dad to watch that movie…

What makes you nostalgic and why?

Visiting the bush. It is where I grew up and have so many great memories. I had a wonderful childhood and for that I am eternally grateful.

What day would you like to re-live and why?

My wedding day was amazing. We got married in Scotland in a castle. It was like something out of Downton Abbey!

What is you unanswered question – the question you keep asking yourself?

How did I get so lucky – in every respect – where I work, where I live and the family I have. Someone is looking out for me.

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