Philip Vale - Words of wisdom
Name: Philip Vale
Where and when were you born? Ramsgate 1936
What were some of your hobbies growing up?
I went to boarding school when I was 8 and I left when I was 18. When I turned 14 my father was a master craftsman goldsmith, English trained, but I was born in Australia, so I couldn’t follow the protocol, so he taught me to be a silversmith. So silversmithing was pretty important in my school holidays, the other part of my school holidays I spent up at Wee Waa on a mate’s property rounding up sheep. Horses were also a big part of my life, they are a beautiful animal and very intelligent.
What do you remember from your school life?
My schooling life was pretty exciting. Being a boarder there were two issues, one was sport and one was food. The school I went to was called Knox Grammar School and the people there were just fantastic. In my final year I started a hamburger shop with the help of the hairdresser who came every Friday. He would bring some food along for me and I set up the shop in the hairdressing room because boarders love food. It was so successful that they had to shut me down (laughs).
What is your favourite childhood memory?
I think learning the craft that I did with my father and I say that because it carried with me through my life and it gave me discipline. As I was going through my late teens and early twenties, I was making trophies for the David Jones Fashion Awards in pure silver.
What’s your favourite food?
I enjoy cooking and I am on my own now. I don’t mind something to go with it too! I guess my favourite food is to throw a lot of things into a wok and top it off with a bit of cream and see what happens.
What big world events were the most memorable while you were growing up?
I studied the use of metal and glass in architecture. As a result, one big memory was when they built the first AMP building, which is in Sydney facing the harbour. The building itself was a high rise and nothing had been built in Australia like that before so there was a lot of learning to do. We learnt a lot from that. That followed through to the Opera House which I spent some years on. We developed systems for the Opera House which was ground breaking because no one had done anything like this before. That then followed through to main buildings throughout Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
What do you remember about your parents? Your grandparents?
I have never met my grandparents who were in England and I have never met any of my extended family. My parents came out here when my father was about 27 and my mother was 21. She was a Manager at a shipping office in London and they both came from country England. My father came from Birmingham hence the trade background. My parents were great! They had very strong English methods and beliefs for doing things. They were paid to come to Australia. My father came here to set up a goldsmith business for a gentleman named Mr. Coote which is now Angus and Coote. He came out here because they had silver, but they didn’t have gold.
What life advice would you pass along to your grandchildren?
Just to be honest, to be fair and just to enjoy Australia, enjoy all of the things around you and have good friends, play sport, learn a good trade whatever that may be, and I am happy to say that my grandchildren are doing just that in various areas. Just be good people.
What was your first job?
I won a scholarship for an apprenticeship and I already had a business running where we were manufacturing a variety of things from commercial silver wear to hub cabs for Morris Minors. That was my first job, setting up the business and getting it going. The scholarship took me all through the metal trades. The business I started was Valco Engineering which is still operating today.
Who were your heroes or role models when you were young?
I think I was surrounded by good people which was helped by my parents. I think my father was probably a role model, my older brother too. They taught me to mix good people with good work.