Wesley College Melbourne Australia
Wesley College Melbourne

Vale David Prest AM

Posted 12 April 2018

David Prest

Wesley College would like to express great sadness at the passing of David Prest AM, our second longest-serving Principal (1972–1991).

Recognised as the father of the modern Wesley, David was much admired and deeply respected.

David grew up in rural South Australia and attended Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, where he was School Captain and Dux of the school, captain of football, a cadet lieutenant and active in rowing and cricket. At university, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours), and spent time studying in England on a Rotary Scholarship, obtaining a Certificate of Education from Southampton University and a Master of Science from the University of Birmingham.

He returned to Adelaide to teach at his old school, before taking on the headmaster role at a country boarding school in Orange, New South Wales. Six years later, he accepted a promotion to Scotch College, Perth and stayed for three years before arriving at Wesley College in 1972.

His visionary leadership of the introduction of coeducation, and of Wesley’s international engagement led to a re-imagined school, something he accomplished without ever compromising its long-held values.  In his book A Great Australian School, Andrew Lemon states "David was an unlikely revolutionary. No-one could have better championed... the virtues of Wesley’s traditions even as he set about changing them".

David presided over many defining moments at Wesley; the move from being a Methodist school to one under the auspices of the new Uniting Church; a considerable increase of both student and staff numbers; and the merger with Cato Methodist Ladies’ College at Elsternwick.

The arts flourished under David’s tenure through the development of a comprehensive music program, the founding of the Adamson Theatre Company and the establishment of the Wesley College Society for the Arts. 

David will be remembered for his extraordinary contribution to Wesley College and to the wider educational community within Australia and overseas. 

Our sincere condolences are extended to David’s family and friends. 

A funeral service will be held on Tuesday 17 April in Adamson Hall at the St Kilda Road Campus, Wesley College at 2.00pm. Parking will be available on the H.J. Kroger Front Turf, entry via Moubray Street at the corner of St Kilda Road.

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