One of the greatest pleasures of Phillip Read’s life — besides his children and grandchildren — was to be offered Life Membership of the NSW Teachers Federation in 2006.
Phillip, “Ready” to everyone at Temora, who died on April 19 at the age of 75, spent the last decade or so suffering from a very aggressive form of Parkinson’s Disease.
Ready’s whole life was always filled with a positive aura. He seldom had a bad word to say about anyone (some conservative politicians excepted). Phil was also as critical of the Labor Party, to which he belonged for many years, especially when he saw that party lining up as almost pseudo-Liberals.
He was exceptionally interested in politics (Gough Whitlam was his hero and he worked closely with John Hatton while teaching in Nowra) and worked as volunteer guide at Old Parliament House when he retired to Canberra, where his children live.
He carried the banner for teachers, in Temora, for 30 years. Ready was the Teachers Federation in Temora. He filled almost every position in the Temora Association.
He was proud of public education, proud of teachers in NSW public schools and, of course, proud of the students that public education produced. Ready saw that public education was the best and by far the fairest of all systems and was proud to speak publicly about its strengths and of the successes of its students and staff.
Ready was a great believer in social justice. He was always ready to take on a bureaucrat or politician when he saw an injustice.
One example was when he, as the deputy principal of Temora High School, was told that a student in a wheelchair could not study industrial arts subjects. With some expert advice and some changes to equipment and Ready’s determination, that student completed two years of workshop subjects.
Ready was always ready to adapt to change, in fact in many areas, he was an agent of change. He encouraged staff members to think laterally and encourage change if it was advantageous to staff and students. He was always supportive of students and staff, sometimes to his personal detriment.
He was posted to Nowra High School to begin his teaching career. He then gained the post of head teacher, social sciences, at Temora High School. Phil was promoted to deputy principal at the school and remained in that position until his retirement.
He understood the need to make things happen and also understood the need to involve parents in supporting their students at school. He was a long-serving member of the Temora High School and Temora Primary School’s P & C and a regional delegate to the state body.
In the 30 years he spent as a resident of Temora he served 18 years on the local council and was elected deputy mayor for three of those years.
He was also elected chairman of the local hospital board, was the secretary of the Temora Development Committee and a delegate to the Friendly Roads Tourist Committee. He was also instrumental in starting the Temora Community Centre, a successful outlet for many people and one that is still running today.
Ready was a real public servant, in every sense of the words, and he loved every minute of it.
Ian Corby is a casual teacher