In the eighth edition of Conversations with Old Boys we chat to Richard Payne, the Head Prefect of WBHS in 1991. Richard is a qualified Chartered Accountant and consults in various fields including post-acquisition integration and change management. He has represented South Africa in both volleyball and beach volleyball. Richard and his family have recently moved back to SA after a period living in the UK.
“Westville Boys’ High School has improved school education by trying new things and focusing not only on academic education but on developing well-rounded individuals who can contribute to any society that they choose to live in.”
Biography of Richard Payne in Brief
SA Students 1995 (captain)
South Africa 1997 & 1998
Conversations: Who was your favourite teacher at school?
I probably had two favourite teachers. I was fond of Mr Alan Miller, my English teacher, mainly because of his teaching style and unique sense of humour. He used to encourage us to express ourselves as only we could and he made what was probably my most difficult subject interesting and challenging. Mr Martin Barkhuizen, my History teacher, managed to bring to life things from the past that were otherwise intrinsically dull. I still remember how he insisted that we watch the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in our Standard 9 (Grade 11) history class when at the time we should have been learning about World War 1.
Conversations: Was there an important life lesson that you learnt at Westville Boys’ High School?
There were so many, but I think “Never Give Up” sticks out the most.
Conversations: Do you have any memorable moments on the sports field while at school that you would like to share with us?
An individual moment that I cherish is breaking 2 minutes for the 800m on grass for the first time. A team memory that has stayed with me is my final 1st XV rugby match in my matric year, which was against St John’s College (Johannesburg). I remember the privilege of leading the team in prayer. It was a brilliant match that ended in a 22-all draw. Importantly, it was the only time our penalty set-piece ever resulted in a try.
“I will definitely be sending my boys to Westville Boys’ High School.”
Conversations: Do you have a funny story from your school days that you would like to share with us?
One of my favourite memories occurred in my early years of high school. Dr Trevor Cowie, our Geography teacher at the time, categorised some heavy rain we happened to be having one afternoon as a "passing shower". This "passing shower" ended up being Cyclone Demoina and it rained continually for a couple of weeks resulting in some of the worst flooding in the country for many years.
Conversations: What advice would you give to a primary school boy considering his high school options on why he should attend WBHS?
Quite simply I would say, “Do everything you can to get there. You won’t be disappointed.” I will definitely be sending my boys to Westville Boys’ High School.
Conversations: What are your impressions of WBHS today?
Westville Boys’ High School has developed so much since I was at school and today is a brilliant school that clearly aims at developing a pupil holistically. The school has improved school education by trying new things and focusing not only on academic education but on developing well-rounded individuals that can add to any society that they chose to live in. They have developed an approach to educating boys that encourages individualism and yet at the same time, the importance of belonging to something bigger.
Conversations: What advice would you give to a young person considering your professional career?
Becoming a chartered accountant undoubtedly provides a fantastic grounding for anyone wanting to get involved in any business. Financial results are integral in all businesses and this is why I believe the studying and training you receive in the profession provides the perfect grounding to enable you to go on and be involved in any number of business roles.
Conversations: What has been the most rewarding moment in your volleyball career, and why?
Captaining the South African Students Volleyball team at the World Student Games (Universiade) in Japan in 1996. This was really special as this was the first truly non-racial South African Volleyball team to participate internationally in the history of South African volleyball. A great privilege and honour.
Conversations: What are your impressions of beach volleyball in South Africa, now that you have returned home?
Beach Volleyball has so much potential and is really taking off around the world. Unfortunately it hasn't got the same exposure nor interest in South Africa, therefore it is not making much of an impact here. Maybe that is something I can assist with in the future.
Conversations with Old Boys is a project of the Westville Boy’s High School Foundation, in partnership with the Westville Boys’ High School Old Boys’ Association