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In 2020 the Inaugural Margaret Meadows Award will be presented to students in Years 10–12 for exceptional component design, technology and innovation.

11 June 2020

This has been made possible thanks to the generosity of old scholar Richard Meadows (1974) who established the award in honour of his mother Margaret. We caught up with Richard to find out more about his family history, career highlights and why he chose to support Pembroke in this way.

Richard, you have a very interesting family history relating both to the formation of Pembroke and the various members of your family who have attended King’s and Pembroke since the 1960s; can you tell us about this?
My brother David attended King’s from 1966 to 1971 and my twin brother Peter and I were at King’s from 1969 to 1973. In 1972 and 1973 King’s boys and Girton girls in Years 10–12 shared classes in preparation for the merger of the two schools, and in my final year of school (1974) Pembroke was established. While I was at King’s my mother, Margaret, was President of the King’s College Mothers Club and initiated the motto Ex Unitate Vires for the new School, Pembroke. Pembroke has since educated my brother David’s children Luke and Tracy.

Can you share any special memories from your days at King’s and Pembroke?
Mostly it was many sporting experiences and great friendships. David, Peter and I all made the State U/16 Basketball team. David was State U/15 high jump champion and in the School Basketball and Tennis Firsts. Peter was State U/14 shotput champion, champion swimmer and in the School Basketball and Football Firsts. I was third in the State U/16 800m and in the School Basketball and Football Firsts.

What has been your biggest career highlight?
My career had far from the standard beginning. I was a good student but lost interest when it mattered most. In my 20s I had a very diverse range of jobs, businesses and experiences—you might say a lateral development.

My longitudinal development started with a Sport Science degree that led to me focusing on exercise recovery. I designed and manufactured my own sensory isolation product (floatation pod) that I exported to 30 countries, including Bashkortostan, Brunei, Tanzania, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island. Customers included institutes of sport, a royal family, luxury resorts and the Defence Department (Air Force and Army).

More recently, establishing a network of rental customers around Australia has been very successful.

We met you last year at the King’s 95th Celebration. During this event a tour of the new Shipsters Road Building and a conversation with our head of Technology inspired you and led to the establishment of the Margaret Meadows Award, which will award students for exceptional component design and innovation in technology. Can you tell us about this?
Current opportunities to express creativity at Pembroke are much more far-reaching and powerful than in 1974. There is now a closer connection to what is possible. Inventors/designers go notoriously unrewarded. Consider that everything we use in this world started with an idea. Therefore, it is great to be able to help reward lateral thinking and creative skills. My mother was a lifelong learner so it is a tribute to her that this Award can bear her name, especially with her link to the School motto.

How do you hope this award will inspire Technology and Design students?
I believe that students will be naturally inspired by a desire to create and contribute to the world. This award will reward their skill and lateral thinking.

What advice would you give to students finishing school today?
There are many opportunities to engage in an area that is of interest to a student. It is more fulfilling to earn a living doing something that launches you out of bed in the morning. I see quite a lot of anxiety in society, which involves many different types of fear. Be fearless and have no regrets. Often it is the fear itself that causes problems, not what you are afraid of.

Get two main things right in your life: look after your health, and be present-minded and kind to yourself; and choose carefully the people who surround you and share your life.

More specifically, if you are looking to get an idea or product out there, consider the agendas of all with whom you associate. If you are aware of and look after others’ agendas, then it will be easier to achieve yours.

Photograph of Richard and his mother Margaret Meadows. Kindly supplied by Richard Meadows.