Shepparton’s Graeme ‘Spanner’ Spence is good to have in the works

He has had a hand building Victorian communities from the ground up, working on council, hospital and farming developments — as well as bushfire rebuilding efforts — across his 40 years in the construction field.

But now he has come full circle — the former high school student at Shepparton’s South Tech (McGuire Campus) is now building the new Greater Shepparton Secondary College.

The connection does not stop there. Mr Spence’s wife, Arlene, and children Melissa and Clinton, went to Shepparton High, and now his grandson Chase is set to attend the new college.

“I’m under Chase’s instructions that I need to build it right for him,” Mr Spence said, with a laugh.

“And I will — this new school is going to be so amazing.”

Mr Spence — known as Spanner on site — is a carpenter by trade and a supervisor, having worked for construction company Hansen Yuncken for most of his career.

And the century-old company has been tasked with building the state-of-the-art secondary college on the former Shepparton High School site, with works starting earlier this year.

Currently, there are about 100 Hansen Yuncken contractors on site, which will grow to 300 at the height of construction towards the end of the year.

Of all the contractors across different companies working on the college, about 90 per cent have been locally based.

Mr Spence plans to stick around — living only five minutes from the building site, he will see the college to completion in time for the 2022 year.

It is a job he has loved doing for decades, and a passion he can’t wait to share with Greater Shepparton Secondary College students — especially when they’re allowed on site once COVID-19 restriction are lifted.

“I would encourage any student who wants to work in the building trade to do so,” Mr Spence said.

“I get to travel around, I get to work with really terrific people every day and I get to build great things and see them become part of the community.”

But the best part is being able to share it with his family.

“My grandkids can point to buildings and say ‘Pa built that’," Mr Spence said.

“What more would you want?”


Find out more about the Greater Shepparton Secondary College

Credit: Shepparton News, 13th August 2020, By Madi Chwasta