A well-known TAFE NSW Maritime Studies teacher had part of his leg amputated this year, but he’s not about to let that slow him down.
Batemans Bay resident Col Tritton, or Captain Col as he’s affectionately known, underwent the life-changing operation in January as the result of an infection in his foot.
Despite his loss, the teacher of 22 years is back on deck, sporting a prosthetic limb and a soldier-on attitude in time for Semester 2.
Captain Col is no stranger to challenges. He has faced his share of highs and lows during 43-years working on the water. Before becoming a TAFE NSW teacher he worked for the Australian Customs Service and then the NSW Police Marine Command.
It was during his time with the NSW Police he was selected as a bodyguard for Prince Charles during his visits to Australia. When Prince Charles wanted to go swimming, Captain Col would get the call.
“I would get a phone call at 2am instructing me to be at a certain beach by 5am because Prince Charles wants to go for a swim.”
In 1996 Captain Col was diagnosed with hemochromatosis (iron poisoning), and given a life expectancy of 10 years. “After hearing that, I decided to set a goal to use teaching as a tool to help other people get their lives on track.
“I joined TAFE NSW Moruya and continue to teach today, well past that 10 year life expectancy,” he said.
Chances are if you’re involved in commercial boating on the South Coast you will have been taught by Captain Col. He provides practical skills and experience in maritime studies for anyone needing qualifications as a coxswain or a vessel master.
“There’s a real joy in teaching. I teach the qualifications that result in these people being in demand, but I also share my career experiences and adventures with students. There’s plenty to learn from those too.
“My reward is the acknowledgement that I do help people on a path to a better future.
Captain Col has close ties to the Eurobodalla community, something he said helped carry him through the tough times.
He is a member of community radio station 2EAR FM and he volunteers with Marine Rescue NSW Batemans Bay. “I’m lucky with the amount of support I’ve had in the community,” he said.
“Last month I turned up to marine rescue and went up the 20 stairs on my backside, I was determined to continue to help my colleagues,” he said.
Thinking of a career on the water? Take a look at the Semester 2 courses at TAFE NSW. Visit www.tafensw.com.au.