The History of our Crest and Motto

By Mrs Annette Carter, College Historian

We had a wonderful response to the callout for next year’s logo design as we plan our 40th celebrations. We have just chosen the finalists from 80 entries, and they will be announced in the coming week.

In a similar way, the original crest and motto for Radford College were designed, selected, and put to a vote.

The process started in 1983, when concerns were raised that a formal crest and motto would not be ready to prepare the uniforms in time for the school opening. Indeed, it was not until 1984, after Radford College officially opened, that a sub-committee considered options for the crest and motto. This is why the ‘R’ appears on the original blazers from 1984.

A letter was sent out to “students, parents, and friends of Radford” by J. A. Mackinnon, the first Principal, asking for suggestions for the motto as well as the symbols and principles that should be incorporated into a crest (designs could also be drawn and sent in). He wrote that these “are decisions which are going to have a long-lasting effect not only on the ethos of the College but also on the preparation of many different materials.”

A total of 26 suggestions for the motto were received in response to Mackinnon’s letter. Interestingly, compassion did not appear on this list. Some of the suggestions that went to the sub-committee were:

Motto suggestions

By 25 June 1984, the choices for the motto were narrowed down to six, with “Truth, Wisdom, Compassion” one of the options. When Radford College’s current motto was finally selected, it was accompanied with the following words:

“The whole of life is a search for Truth, and for the living of truth within oneself: a true man or woman is the acme of mankind. Knowledge is power, but knowledge without Wisdom is force without direction or constraint. Wisdom shows us how best to use our talents, moment by moment. Above all is that love, charity, or Compassion which makes life worth living, helps us to help each other, is a positive force for good and fulfils the law of God.”

Alongside these choices for the motto, the crest was being decided. There were many initial designs, including the Radford family coat of arms, as well as suggested symbols and principles that should be incorporated:

Radford family coat of arms

A handful of symbols and principles were selected, and several designers were engaged to incorporate them into artwork. The final entries were placed on the noticeboard outside the College library for people to vote.

Then finally, in 1985, the design by J.A. Yarra was chosen.

The winning design

The symbolism incorporated into the winning Radford College crest were:

  • Bishop’s mitre - Bishop Radford and Christian principles.
  • Book - Knowledge and desire to learn.
  • The Southern Cross - Service to ACT and Australia.
  • The Radford 'R' - Education available for all.
  • Alpha and Omega - Jesus is “the beginning and the ending of all things.”
  • The chi rho - A monogram of the first two letters, chi (X) and rho (P) in the Greek word Christos (Christ).

When the motto and crest were finalised, then came the practicalities of changing the uniforms, with Mackinnon telling parents that they “will be informed of the availability of new pockets for the present blazers, but the change over from the present ‘R’ will not be compulsory in the 'phasing-in' period." The crest appeared on all new blazers.