St Andrew's Cathedral School

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William Wheeler – Premier’s ANZAC Memorial Scholarship recipient


We are thrilled to announce that William Wheeler (Year 10) has been awarded the prestigious Premier’s ANZAC Memorial Scholarship (PAMS)! This scholarship is extremely competitive since each year, only 20 students are selected for the PAMS across NSW.

We interviewed William to hear more about this scholarship and how he received it.

William Wheeler (Year 10)

What is the Premier’s ANZAC Memorial Scholarship?
The Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholarship (PAMS) offers an opportunity for NSW Year 10 and 11 History students to travel on a study tour focused on the history of Australians at war.

How often is this awarded to students?
PAMS has been held each year since 2008. It’s run by the NSW Office for Veterans Affairs (OVA). Each year this prestigious scholarship is only awarded to 20 students from all across NSW, so it is a very competitive field. 

What was the process to receive this?
To apply for the scholarship, I wrote a 1,000-word essay on courage, endurance and sacrifice. I based my response on the idea that remembrance is both a word and a concept. I also have direct family members who were involved in, or affected by active duty and found it interesting to discover extracts from dispatches that mentioned my paternal great-grandfather. I also reflected on the many services I have participated in as a St Andrew’s Cathedral Chorister, with my very first service being the Armistice Day service in 2016 when I was just eight years old.

How did you feel when you found out?
I felt truly honoured. It is amazing that I have been awarded this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was very unexpected, but I was hopeful as I had worked hard on my essay. I applied in March yet didn’t find out until the end of May. The hardest part has been keeping it a secret until it is officially announced.

How has the School supported you on this journey?
St Andrew’s Cathedral School has been very supportive of my scholarship application, which included a letter of recommendation signed by both Dr McGonigle and my history teacher, Mrs Ireland. They outlined my contributions to the School and wider community, my interest in history, and how I displayed key attributes of a Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholar, such as civic-mindedness, resilience, independence and trustworthiness. Dr McGonigle told me she was contacted over the holidays to discuss my suitability for the scholarship, so I appreciated her giving up her time during the break to do that.

Were there any teachers in particular that supported or inspired you? 
Mrs Ireland was amazing.  She was my history teacher in Year 7 and Year 9, and she has helped instil my love of history. Once I had a first draft of my Scholarship essay, I reached out to Mrs Ireland, and she kindly reviewed it for me. What I found most helpful was her suggestion to add a bit more about how Australians have contributed to peacekeeping efforts.  I was so appreciative of the extra time she spent meeting with me to discuss my essay and reviewing later drafts. It was also great when she heard that I had been successful, and she sent me an email with “WOW and WOW” in the subject line. 

William Wheeler (right) with his history teacher, Mrs Tracey Ireland (left)

As part of this scholarship, you get to go on a trip…could you tell us more about this?
I’m going on an incredible tour of Japan. I’ve only ever been overseas once before, and that was on the Chorister Tour of the UK and Europe in 2019. The PAMS Tour is in October, and we will be visiting places of historic significance and a number of military museums and shrines.  We will fly into Tokyo and out of Osaka. The draft itinerary includes the Australian Prisoner of War Camp in Naoetsu, the Yokohama Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and the Osaka International Peace Centre. I’m excited that we will be travelling with Dr Keiko Tamura, a Social and Military Historian.

What are you most looking forward to about this trip?
My maternal great-grandfather served in Japan after WWII as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), so it will be fascinating to learn more about BCOF and understand how Australians made a difference.  We will be visiting the Kure Maritime Museum and BCOF Sites in Hiroshima as part of the tour. 

I am also a fan of Anime and Pokémon, so if I am lucky I might experience a bit of Japanese youth culture on my travels as well.

We look forward to hearing all about William’s journey when he returns in October – watch this space!