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News > Alumni Families Profiles > Daniel Bolger and Jim Roche

Daniel Bolger and Jim Roche

Meet Daniel Bolger (SJC 1981-1984) and his uncle Jim Roche (SJC 1952-1955)

Daniel Bolger
SJC 1981-1984

Daniel Bolger has a natural knack for quickly easing into conversations whether he’s known you for a decade or five minutes.  His speech is forthright and engaging, and he can elicit a quick laugh from his colourful recollections of his time at St John’s.

But the easy-going accessibility belies a bristling intelligence and shrewd grasp of personalities.  A University of Sydney graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics, Daniel earned a James Murphy for Agriculture Scholarship in 1981.  He was actively involved in the Rowing, Cricket and Athletics teams, elected Agricultural Society President and House Committee member in 1983, then House President in 1984. 

“I was going to have a year off, going jackarooing into Queensland”, Daniel reveals of his plans to squeeze in some adventure before starting university. But fate, or rather his uncle, John’s alumnus Peter Roche and his mother Patricia (a Sancta alumna), intervened.  “They’d done all the paperwork…and so about late February 1981 I arrived.” 

The Young, NSW native boarded during his years at St Ignatius College, Riverview.  “When you’re in first year it’s like in Year 7, you look up to the Year 12 guys.  And as a fresher it was so stratified and disciplined – to even say hello to a senior, you had to pluck up a bit of courage”, he admits.  Ice breakers came from unexpected moments – like when Daniel missed the meal service in the Dining Hall and had to divert himself to another room full of seniors. After a few intimidating encounters, he eventually found himself at ease with the group. 

“It was just one of those things where you vicariously onboarded yourself into a different group, and you made friends with them.” 

That they still keep in touch today speaks to the strength of such ties formed at St John’s, and it’s a story that’s typical of many who came through the College. 

“They’ve all got a different world view.  You make friends with them.  You see them all the time…You could’ve been from Albury High, St Paul’s at Moree or Riverview or Joeys but at the end of the day you’re a Johnsman.  You had to leave all those trappings behind.” 

When asked about all his commitments at College, he just quips, “’In for the penny, in for the pound’. It’s an opportunity for leadership, and it’s something I really enjoyed.  You get the respect of your peers.”  Daniel cheekily adds, “House Presidents had their own room.  I had my own phone, I could ring up to get a pizza.”  The downside?  “Well, when the phone rang you had to pick it up.  And it often wasn’t a cheery voice!”, Daniel alluding to awkward chats with the Chancellor or a neighbouring College over incidents with some residents.  But Daniel is quick to add that while they played hard, they worked hard too with the academic results to prove it.

Daniel has spent years honing his policy analysis, events management and PR skills.  He has worked on big events that have involved royal households and foreign governments including the White House.  He speaks of his experience during World Youth Day (2008) when he had to scramble to book more satellite time to continue recording the last Mass which had gone well overtime to keep the TV coverage from cutting off.

“In terms of pressure, (it’s about) the ability to take on very high maintenance, demanding stakeholders…they’re coming into our country expecting it to be like their home.  It’s about people”, Daniel elaborates when asked what it takes to thrive in that field.

He also mentions the ‘turbulent years’ at St John’s under the public’s watchful eye, and the adjustment period with the introduction of women.  “The College had to really reinvent itself in terms of its mojo and public face, and I think it’s come through…The other night I walked into the Dining Hall – I saw boys and girls sitting down to dinner having a chat”, Daniel remembers.  “It is 2022, it’s the way of the world and I think it’s a very good thing.”

Dr James Roche OAM CLJ
SJC 1952-1955

Jim Roche is uncle to Daniel Bolger by marriage with wife Mary’s first husband being Daniel’s younger uncle Michael who had died many years before.  The two are also linked through Daniel’s grandmother who was a Roche.

Jim represents the first of three generations of family members who resided at the College.  The more recent Roches who went through St John’s include his grandchildren Michael (SJC 2015-2016) and Sally (SJC 2017) Roche.  There were around eighty people at the College when Jim arrived in 1952 where he later became part of the Rowing team.  He had also previously boarded at St John’s College Campbelltown and St Ignatius College, Riverview. 

“At St John’s College it was good because you got to meet many people during your time there, but I was very fortunate to have with me three fellow Riverview old boys – Pat Dalton (1952-1955), John Beer (1954-1956) and Jim Conrick (1952-1953) who became lifelong friends”, says Jim.

Jim speaks in the calm manner of a man accustomed to handling the pressures of a doctor’s life in his younger years.  He is unwaveringly polite and courteous, and when one speaks to him over the phone, you sense his full attention on you. 

It’s perhaps no surprise that Jim went into Medicine, following in the footsteps of his mother Vida, one of the female medical graduates in 1926, after which she worked at the Rachel Forster Hospital; back then, female doctors were a rare breed indeed and were mostly employed at women’s hospitals.    

His 1956 University of Sydney degree was later followed by his appointment as a Resident Medical Officer at St Vincent’s Hospital, Resident at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, and Paediatric Registrar and Director of Ultrasound at the Women’s Hospital. He was also a Visiting Medical Officer at Mona Vale District Hospital from the early 1970s until his retirement.  He continued in hospital practice for 17 years before moving into private practice. 

has had a lifelong association with the military, having served as an army doctor like his mother and brother John.  He joined the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) in 1956, then the 5th Field Ambulance the following year where he gained the rank of captain.  He was later invited to join the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps (RAAMC) History Committee where he assisted in developing their Centenary Year commemoration. His love of history is reflected in the article he wrote about St John’s College and the Women’s Hospital in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine 1956 Graduates Jubilee Book.  He has maintained links with various military and historical societies over the years. 

Jim was awarded an OAM in 2005 for his service to medicine in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology and to the Crown Street Women’s Hospital.   The occasion was made even more special as it was presented by his fellow St Vincent’s Hospital Resident and long-time friend, then NSW State Governor The Hon Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO.  Jim shares that one if his most cherished photographs is one of him, Marie and his brother in uniform at a ceremony to commemorate the fallen of the Battle of Fromelles (WWI).  He also belongs to the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus as a Knight of the Order. 

Throughout his career, he was blessed with opportunities to see much of the world with Russia, France, Israel, Egypt and Turkey representing only a few of the countries he’s visited.  He also had a near-brush with fame during one of his US stints when he’d auditioned for an Australian part in a film – unfortunately, he didn’t get the part as his accent was deemed not Australian enough! 

Jim is now retired in Bayview, Sydney. 

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