Peter and Valerie Duncan

College reunion connects friends

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Avondale honours alumni and donors at Homecoming

A scholarship announced in the presence of its donors during the Avondale Homecoming concert acknowledges the excellence of the college of higher education’s vocal ensemble.

The Conservatorium of Music at Avondale now offers the merit-based Duncan–Kranz Choral Scholarship to students who have a passion for music and a desire to sing with The Promise.

The scholarship is funded by the Duncan family. Peter Duncan is founder and executive chairman of fluid transfer solutions company Pirtek. He is married to Valerie. Their parents, Charles and Sue Duncan and Alfred and Ethel Kranz, mentored people with promise—Charles and Sue sponsored young adults who wanted to complete tertiary education and Alfred and Ethel dedicated their lives to education, notably in Alfred’s role as a Bible teacher at Avondale. Charles and Sue and Alfred and Ethel also provided support for the arts, particularly as performed by young Seventh-day Adventist musicians.

Master of ceremonies and former Avondale president Dr John Cox announced the scholarship during Symphony of Psalms in Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church on August 29. The Promise dedicated its performance of the song, “Irish Blessing,” to the Duncans, who met members of the ensemble at a private function following the concert.

The scholarship shows The Promise is “developing a reputation that reaches beyond the college, beyond the choral community and into the business community,” says Dr Lyell Heise, director of the church in the South Pacific’s Institute of Worship and a friend of the Duncans. “The quality of its musicianship is appreciated and is attracting substantial support.”

The concert closed with a collaborative performance of Igor Stravinsky’s choral and orchestral symphony, with Dr Ian Cook from The University of Newcastle conducting his wind orchestra and the Avondale Singers.


Avondale Alumni Association acknowledged the excellence of former students by announcing at Homecoming the recipients of its annual awards. The recipients reflected the diversity of the courses offered at Avondale.

Alumna of the Year Veronika Chester received a scholarship during the final year of her teaching course that committed her to work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church for a year. So began a lifetime of service at schools in Australia and the Pacific islands. “It’s been a great journey,” says Veronika. The association honoured Veronika for her commitment to the ministry of teaching.

Alumnus of the Year Pr David Currie, now 80, is still ministering with as much passion as in his first years of denominational service. The evangelist and former Adventist Church administrator has returned to local church ministry, at first in Victoria and now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, since retiring. The association honoured David for a lifetime of faith sharing and soul winning.

The Young Alumnus of the Year is a student of the world. Born in South America and raised in Australia, Krystle Praestiin is now working with a Pacific island focus. She is project officer for the Federal Court of Australia’s Pacific Judicial Development Programme. The program partners with courts in the Pacific to help improve access to justice and governance in the region. “I have a passion for empowering communities and people to reach their full potential,” says Krystle, who before joining the court received, as an award, a two-year internship with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Malawi. “My goal is to keep doing that in whatever capacity I can.”

Seven other alumni, one from each of the Homecoming honour years, joined Krystle, David and Veronika as citation recipients: teacher and musician Glynn Litster (1945); youth minister Pr Bob Possingham (1955); education administrator Dr John Waters (1965); cross-cultural educator Dr Carol Tasker (1975); photographer Vanessa Blagden (1985); teacher and counsellor Jerry Unser (1995); and teacher and cafe manager Anita Carvill (2005).

Homecoming closed at Avondale Lifestyle Community’s new Kressville Activities Centre on Sunday morning (August 30). The chief executive officer of Sanitarium, Kevin Jackson, spoke as part of the health and wellbeing company’s sponsorship of the breakfast then took questions from alumni.



Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale College of Higher Education’s Public Relations Officer. He brings to the role a decade’s experience as a communicator in publishing, media relations, public relations, radio and television, mostly within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific and its entities. He is also co-convenor of Manifest, a movement exploring, encouraging and celebrating #faithfulcreativity in the Adventist Church.