Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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WETTENHALL, Henry Norman Burgess AM (1915-2000)

WETTENHALL, Dr Henry Norman Burgess AM (1915-2000)

Norman Wettenhall (Detail from oil painting by Robert Hannaford, 1977).

Norman Wettenhall (Detail from oil painting by
Robert Hannaford, 1977).

Dr. Norman Wettenhall became a member of the Geelong College Council from 1960 to 1991 and served as Chairman from 1969 to 1977.

Wettenhall House at Geelong College is named in honour of the contribution of the Wettenhall Family, both Norman and his father, Roland Wettenhall. Norman's portrait by Robert Hannaford is on display in the Senior School Dining Hall. He was appointed a Life Governor of the Geelong College and a Fellow of the Old Geelong Collegians’ Association in recognition of his outstanding contribution. Dr Wettenhall was a strong supporter of co-education and particularly proud that the College became co-educational during his time as Chairman of the Council.

Norman Wettenhall, as he preferred to be known was born at Foxhill, Farnborough, England to parents Roland Ravenscroft Wettenhall (1882-1965) and Jane Vera Creswick. He grew up in Melbourne and attended the Geelong College as a boarder from 1930 to the end of first term, 1934. At College, he was Calvert House Captain, a member of the 1st Football XVIII of 1933, a School Prefect in 1933 and 1934 and a member of the Pegasus Committe in 1933. After College, he completed a medical degree at Melbourne University, graduating in 1940 with honours in all subjects. He then briefly joined the resident staff of the Royal Melbourne Hospital before enlisting in the RAN during World War II. He served in the cruiser, Shropshire and and the destroyer, Nepal but, after becoming ill, was invalided out of the navy. Norman then became resident registrar at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.

Throughout his life he made outstanding contributions to society in a diverse range of fields in which he was interested including medicine, the arts, ornithology, heritage and the environment. He was Founding Board Member of the National Trust of Australia (Vic); Council Member of the Royal Australasian Ornithological Union from 1975 to 1983; Board Member of the Victorian Conservation Trust from 1984 to 1992; Trustee of the World Wildlife Fund; Founding Chairman, Heide Art Gallery; and Chairman of the Board of the Museum of Victoria 1978 to 1985. In 1997, he established the Norman Wettenhall Foundation to direct philanthropy to projects ‘promoting the protection, maintenance and understanding of Australian living nature, environment and habitat, with particular emphasis on birdlife.’

His brother, Roland Hugh Alexander Wettenhall (1918-1988), a grazier, also attended the School from 1932 to 1937.

Sources: Ad Astra March, 1978. The Wettenhall Library: natural history, especially ornithology, voyages,travels and Austaliana from the library of Dr Norman Wettenhall; James Affleck, Geelong Collegians at the Second World War p541.
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