Nicola Homer, Box Hill 1968 Kurt Hahn Prize Winner

By Nicky Ford on 03/05/2016

Former Box Hill student, Nicky Ford (née Nicola Homer) reflects on winning the prestigious Kurt Hahn Prize in 1968 for rescuing a man from a car crash.

"I won the Kurt Hahn Prize in 1968 when I was in my final year at Box Hill School.

The year before, a friend and I were sitting at a table one afternoon, in a nearby cafe, when suddenly a car veered off the Mickleham Bypass, hurtled across the courtyard in front of the cafe, overturned and came to rest upside-down in a cloud of dust. I raced outside, saw a man on the driver's side and remember worrying that the car might go on fire. Everything was a bit of a blur after that; I shouted for someone to call an ambulance and then with help from other bystanders, pulled the man out. He was conscious and shaking so I put my coat over him and then someone brought him a blanket. I reassured him that an ambulance was coming and stayed with him until it did.

I remember being totally shocked when I was told I had won the prize... I'd forgotten the incident and had no idea my name had been entered. Going to Schloss Salem in southern Germany to receive the prize was a wonderful trip. I travelled with Mrs Ann Ruegg, housemistress at the time and she and I certainly made the most of our adventure. The school in southern Germany was also co-ed, and it was like visiting a rich cousin; apart from the castle itself, the buildings were modern, well-appointed and beautifully maintained. I received the prize from Dr. Kurt Hahn himself, who was then in his eighties, and he died six years later. I was aware even at my young age (eighteen) that it was an honor to meet this renowned educator and philosopher, but didn't realize the depth and scope of his beliefs until I was older and raising my own children.

I was a student at Box Hill for only two years but loved every minute of my time there and certainly flourished from the immersion into the culture of the Seven Laws of Salem. My wayward and rebellious behaviour at home was transformed into both leadership and nurturing qualities during my time at Box Hill and so it was no surprise when after graduating in the summer of 1968, I began what was to be a lifelong career in Nursing. I moved to the USA in 1976, have raised three children, who all benefited from Dr. Hahn's teachings and who will hopefully pass them on to their children. I am still working as an RN, at a University Medical Centre hospital in Vermont, in the role of Patient and Family Advocate."