David Morton, 2005 graduating Hillbrook Student and co-founder of Dead Puppet Society was guest speaker at Celebration Evening. The following is an excerpt from his motivating speech.

What would seventeen year old me have thought if I’d been told that thirteen years into the future I’d be introducing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to a life-size Galapagos tortoise that I made of plywood bought from Stafford Bunnings? I’m sure you can imagine. Not possible. Not in a million years. Also, why on earth did you choose a tortoise? And don’t they have plywood in London?

Sure, that’s a high point. And Nick (my husband and business partner) and I shamelessly tell that story. Honestly not from pride or ego, or that our work was somehow deserving of the audience, but because of how gobsmackingly incredulous it is.

The fact that there’s somehow an ecologically fuelled link between the Royal Family and everyone’s favourite sausage sizzle joint is only possible in hindsight. I honestly don’t know if it would be possible to plan for and execute such a stunningly uncanny set of circumstances. What I can draw from the experience is this. It might seem like there’s a chasm between where you’re at now, and where you dream to be, your ideal career, lifestyle, personal life. And perhaps the truth is that there is, but it’s going to be a ripper of an adventure to go on between now and then.

Even that image itself isn’t an end point, whatever you’re holding in your minds right now, that dream or goal, it’s just a way marker; it’s something to journey towards, but it’s totally fleeting, and only useful if you remember two things,

  1. To make sure you find the time to enjoy every step you take towards your goals, and actively make the choices you need to enjoy them; and
  2. Perhaps more importantly, to remain open to them changing. The world changes quickly, in fact I think the only certainty is change, and there are callings and careers hidden in the coming decades that we can’t even name now, and who knows, perhaps one of you will dedicate a lifetime to it.

The world needs dreamers. It needs citizens who have the bravery to re-imagine their realities, to find new ways of solving age old problems. Sure, this is perhaps most obvious in the arts, but its the case in every industry. The leaders are those with a vision to build new orders, not those willing to live in someone else’s idea of the world.

I firmly believe that by simply being here tonight you are supremely lucky, because Hillbrook prepares its graduates to dream better than any other institution I’ve come across or heard of. My takeaway from Hillbrook, in a sentence, was a foundational belief in the strength of the community and the collective good, where diversity is something to be celebrated, a key to resilience and sustainability, and growth and achievement were spurred on by a constant provocation towards curiosity.

You are never going to forget your time at Hillbrook. But more than that, you are going to lean hard, perhaps without even knowing it, on the tacit skills you learnt here, the values you built, and on the person you became in this community. If you don’t believe me, just wait till your next chapter, til you get into uni or the workforce, where you work closely with non-Hillbrookers, then you’ll know how incredible this school is and how lucky you are to have been a part of its story. For those of you about to leave, you’ll always have a little part of Hillbrook with you, and for those with more years to come in this community, lean in, become a part of it, so that it might become a part of you.

I’d like to offer some thoughts, some where to from here’s – to be taken or left, as you will:

  • Regardless of what you do with your lives, do it with love and do it for a reason.
  • Focus on the journey and not the end point – a goal, once reached is simply the start of the next journey, the vantage point from which you spy your next goal.
  • Surround yourself with good people.
  • Question everything – we’re living in an information saturated age, but that doesn’t necessarily make us better informed. Do your own research, make your own choices, and draw your own connections.
  • And lastly, but obviously before all else – just be kind.

2005 Graduate and Celebration Evening Guest Speaker