Back to Top

The Stanley Smith story

'I do get some pleasure out of this ability to give, particularly to something where people are really slogging at it in the face of great adversity, to do some good in the world. The really great people I've met in this world have not been business tycoons, I can tell you that.' Stanley H. Smith

Morris HallThe greatest philanthropist to support Churchie was undoubtedly Stanley Smith. Projects which he wholly or partly funded make up a substantial part of the School even today. They include Morris Hall, the Prep School, Goodwin Boarding Annexe, the Roberts Centre and the Young Building (now home to Goodwin House boarders).

Since Stanley Smith's death in 1968, his widow May Smith has established a Charitable Trust which has provided funding for scholarships and for the Stanley and May Smith Science Centre, the Prep School extensions, the purchase of Slade and upgrading of boarding facilities. Benefaction on this scale is rare and should be celebrated.

Stanley Smith was born in 1907. His father was the General Manager of the Brisbane Telegraph newspaper.

Smith attended Churchie from 1921 to 1923. His academic record was uninspiring but he had success in sport, representing the School in Rugby League (First XIII), rowing and athletics. He was described by a contemporary as a 'bit of a larrikin'.
 
After leaving school he worked as a jackaroo and drover in Western Queensland and in the Northern Territory before returning to Brisbane to work for Gordon & Gotch, then worked in New Zealand and South-East Asia as a journalist. He spent the war years behind Japanese lines as representative for the British Ministry of Information in Chungking (China's war-time capital). (Another source says he was Chief of Psychological Warfare - Propaganda.)
 
Immediately after the war concluded he got together with another journalist and long-time friend, John Galvin. They recognised enormous trading opportunities with Japan as it rebuilt. Under Douglas McArthur's administration only US Government civil servants, war crimes trial legal advocates, missionaries and media representatives were allowed into Japan. Smith and Galvin purchased a nearly defunct newspaper in Hong Kong (China Mail or South China Morning Post - sources differ) which provided press passes so they could go to Japan. This proved to be a brilliant move, leading to the establishment of their company, Scott & English Ltd as an approved Foreign Trader.
 
They obtained a two- or three-year monopoly on Australian wool exports to Japan and became the major suppliers of iron ore and coal to Japan through interests in Malaya, as well as having significant tin mines. By the late 1950s ore sales were five million tons per year. Scott and English group companies were at the centre of much of the trading in South East Asia. Agencies were held for the Burmese Government, Pakistan's largest jute producer, copper mines in South America and a vast range of other products from around the world, including war surplus. The Smith/Galvin group also included shipping and stevedoring companies which were among the largest in the world at that time.

A scrap from a letter written by Stanley Smith to Harry Roberts in September 1960 is relevant:
I have a great new project afoot in Malaya. Sixty miles of railway through swamps and jungle, two new towns and that sort of thing! It is a 12 million pounds project ... This will be the biggest single enterprise in S E Asia on completion in 61/62 and will produce 2M tons of high-grade iron ore for export p.a.
 
In a period of 20 years from the end of the War the Smith/Galvin businesses expanded hugely.
 
Morris Hall externalStanley Smith was approached by a school contemporary to donate for the School's 50th anniversary project, Morris Hall, and in 1957 gave £20,000, then a huge sum. He gave a further £20,000 in 1959, specifying that it was for the headmaster to spend on any project of his choice. Another £50,000 came in 1962 and £50,000 in 1964. Because publicity about his previous gifts had led to him receiving numerous begging letters, Smith asked that four of his friends each put in a pound and that the gift be announced as coming from a group of Old Boys. He expressed his desire to inspire others to give according to their means.

In 1967 Stanley Smith challenged the School community to raise $200,000 for the Roberts Centre by offering to match it dollar for dollar. When the target was reached he offered a further $100,000 for the Young Building if the community could reach the extended target. This was also done and his final living gift of $100,000 was delivered in 1968.

Smith wrote to Harry Roberts congratulating him on reaching the $600,000 total saying "That is fantastic by Australian standards." Roberts commented, 'Yes, but our friend Stanley made the victory possible.'
 
Stanley Smith died in the United States later in 1968, following what was thought to be routine surgery. In 1969 the School Council named ‘The Stanley Smith Preparatory School' in his honour. The Smith Fields also bear his name and the Stanley and May Smith Science Centre was named in 1999.

Prior to his death Stanley Smith had established a Trust to hold a building he owned in London. It was to go to his grandchildren, should he have any, and otherwise to Churchie. His only daughter Barbara had one son, Alexander, who inherited the building on turning 25. Stanley's widow, May Smith has established a Charitable Trust which supports many causes including Churchie.

Harry Roberts reported that at one stage he had written asking Stanley to open a new building. He replied, 'No, thank you very much, that's not my line of country. I'm lucky to be able to help and I like doing it, but I don't want to take a bow!'
 
What a wonderful example of making an investment in the spirit of Churchie.