Memorable moments with Tim Armitage and Alan Lock

25 Jan 2023

Old Boys Tim Armitage (6591) and Alan Lock (6647) have returned to College for their 65-year school reunion. Here, they recall their schooldays and share their post-College journeys.

Tim Armitage

1957–1962, Flower’s House

What are your best memories/achievements during your time at College?

Athletics – At my first compulsory ‘Run round the Park’, the House Prefects did not believe that a first year could do it in 17 minutes. They wanted me to do it again until I explained that I had run behind members of the 1st XV and had decided to overtake them because they were running so slowly. Subsequently, I represented College in athletics on two occasions.

Shooting – We were all trucked off to the rifle range for my first experience with an old .303 rifle. My first shot hit the soil butt in front of the target, and a stone went through its centre. This was marked as a ‘bull’ and I spent the next three years in the school’s shooting team.

Rugby – The Flower’s House 9st 7lb team was in the final of the inter-house competition. I was No.8 as we pushed our opponents’ scrum across their try line. I was about to fall on the ball for the winning try, when our halfback (they are always cheeky) dived between my legs to secure victory. Personal triumph denied. My rugby highlight at school was being selected for the ATC Southern Zone rugby team. It had 1st XV members from schools between Invercargill and Blenheim, and me. We won the Quadrangular Tournament in Palmerston North and I was selected to trial for the New Zealand team.

Upper – (Fellow student) Forbes Mackenzie (6649) and I decided to volunteer to level Upper during the end-of-year Project Week. Over the years, spoil from digging for the rugby goalposts had created mounds at least three-feet high at each end of the ground. Under the tutelage of Groundsman Clarrie Gordon, we turfed, dug, and barrowed until Upper was level at last.

What are your Post-College career/achievements?

After College, I gained a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Canterbury. I worked for two councils and an engineering consultancy before embarking on a 30-year career in helping organisations systematically improve their performance. A client grandiosely described me as their “Institutional Development Consultant”. I worked with funding agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank; management consultants such as Booz Allen Hamilton and Ernst & Young (EY); and companies such as BHP (Australia Coal), and Windflow Technology; and government and local government departments in New Zealand and Australia.

In 2019, I was elected a Fellow of Engineering New Zealand in recognition of my “singular contribution to the assessment of professional engineers for 20 years”.

After three attempts at retirement from professional work, my wife, Cherry, and I have a walnut farm and plant nursery north of Christchurch.

As a gentleman of the Christ Church Cathedral Choir, I have sung to both the head of the Church of England and the head of the Church of Rome. I still enjoy singing, and my barbershop quartet won the New Zealand Seniors title every time it competed.

Alan Lock

1957–1961, Julius House

What are your best memories/achievements during your time at College?

I recall the excellent Mathematics teaching of both FE Morris and ARD Ramsay who together contributed to my results in the University Scholarship exams where I gained a National Scholarship and had the top mark in all New Zealand for Pure Mathematics.

I recall when the grounds were too wet for rugby, we were made to run around North Hagley Park. The leading bunch would stop for a break at the major corners and when the stragglers like me got up to them, they would take off again so us slower runners never got a break. I believe that pressure and the regimental discipline of ‘Killer Mackay’, the gym master, helped me to develop from a weak asthmatic kid to a tolerably fit person.

I recall that there was no water heating for either the gym showers nor the swimming pool and after building up a sweat doing a gym workout, the icy waters of the showers took your breath away. The swimming pool had no changing rooms but simply a wall around the entire pool area and most boys swam naked. This did not bother anyone at the time and nobody expected the privacy that people demand today.

I was taught Chemistry by the enthusiastic teacher TWC Tothill (2357). He was a great inspiration and delighted in showing off how a fire extinguisher worked or how some chemicals exploded on contact.

What are your Post-College career/achievements?

After leaving College, I attended the University of Canterbury and graduated with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Mathematics. I moved to Wellington and worked briefly with the NZ Meteorological Service before joining IBM in 1966. Computers were beginning to be used for commercial work, as opposed to the early scientific uses, and I had the task of designing systems to take over from the manual processes at major companies and organisations such as Unilever, Philips, and the Wellington City Council. The challenge was to educate the users in how tasks could be automated and then to programme a computer to do those tasks. Transferring from a manual system to an automated process was a huge transformation for most organisations and required skill, diplomacy, and a lot of hard work. I worked for IBM for 10 years and am grateful for the training and experience that gave me.

Another large computer firm, Sperry Univac, gained a major government contract to install a computer system for the Police, Transport and Justice departments in Whanganui. I was hired to assist Sperry Univac start up their New Zealand operations and became the NZ manager but after three years and the successful completion of the projects, I decided to start my own company.

That company was Computer Systems Implementation Ltd (CSI) and I had the motto “We make systems go”. We would do whatever it took to implement successful computer systems, including systems design, staff training, programming, computer operations, and systems management. The firm was successful and, at one stage, had 160 staff across New Zealand and a small branch in Sydney. One of our specialty areas was the advertising industry and, in conjunction with one of the larger advertising agencies, we designed a system that was adopted by most agencies.

As a leader in the IT industry, I was elected President of the IT Association of NZ (ITANZ) and represented NZ at several international industry gatherings. I had a very rewarding career and sold CSI in 1998 to move into retirement.