The Champagnat Award 2017

The Champagnat Award is made on an occasional basis by the Sacred Heart College Board of Trustees to honour a person who has provided outstanding service to the College; someone who has given freely of their time and talents and who exemplifies the Marist charism. In 2017 the award was presented to Mr Leo Davis at a ceremony at the College on Saturday 11 November. 

Mr Kelsen Butler, Board of Trustees Chair, speaking after the award was presented, noted: “It is extremely fitting that the Champagnat Award is presented in the bicentennial year of the founding of the Marist Brothers by Marcellin Champagnat. St Marcellin would be extremely proud of the work of lay Marists such as Leo Davis.” This was an appropriate comment given that Leo was present in Rome at the canonisation of Marcellin Champagnat in April 1999, along with a representative group from the College community including students.   

Leo commenced his secondary education as a boarder at Richmond Road – now St Paul’s College – and moved to the West Tamaki Road site as a foundation student. A member of the Old Boys’ Association, he joined the committee in 1986 serving as President from 1991 to 1994 and as treasurer for 18 years. He was made a life member of the Sacred Heart College Old Boys’ Association in 2016.

One of the five foundation members of the Sacred Heart College Development Foundation established in 1993, Leo served for 10 years as a trustee, during which time projects such as the Marist Brothers Gymnasium and the Aquatic Centre were developed.

He was appointed to the Board of Trustees, serving two terms: 1995 to 1997 and 2001 to 2003; these were years when the College was in its turn-around phase with a focus on improving academic results, pastoral care and facilities in order to grow the roll. This was a period of great activity requiring vast amounts of time and hard work from the trustees. As well as being a member of the Board of Trustees, Leo accepted the role of Chairman of the Centenary Committee in 2003. As many Old Boys and friends of the College will remember, this was a very successful commemoration with many events and the publication of Confortare: A History of Sacred Heart College, Auckland, 1903-2003.

In 2010 the Marist Brothers Trust Board appointed Leo as a director of Sacred Heart College Limited, the proprietor of the College, and this year he was appointed a director of the Hostel company. As Kelsen noted “His prudent financial acumen has been critical to overseeing projects at the College such as the Pompallier Block, the Technology and Administration Block, Centenary Square, the Auditorium and most recently the School of Imagination.” His sound judgement, ability to think widely, analyse risk and make sound decisions mean he is valued and appreciated by all those who work with him.  

Kelsen also paid tribute to Leo’s wife, Kathy, who has been of enormous support to him over the years enabling him to do all that he has done. She was thanked for her love, support and generosity.

Leo was presented with a gold lapel badge and an illuminated citation which read “In recognition of his outstanding leadership, professionalism and dedication over thirty-one years of service given with generosity, simplicity and humility in the spirit of Mary and of St Marcellin Champagnat.”

Mrs Janne Pender, Champagnat Award Committee