From dream to reality

DREAM COME TRUE: Alistair McIntyre with the book he wrote, Doug the Digger. The book takes inspiration from Mr McIntyre’s experiences in the construction industry. Pictures by Liam Clayton
Mr McIntyre shows Ormond School students how he started drawing Doug the Digger for his book.

Alistair McIntyre is affectionately known by a few different names — Mr Mac, Doug the Digger — but he has one goal and that is to inspire students to do their best. He went to Ormond School to share his story with the children. Reporter Matai O’Connor went along and spoke with Alistair about why he does this . . .

When Alistair McIntyre was a child he did not grasp the importance of learning to read and write while at school but when he grew up, he understood how important it really is.

Mr McIntyre grew up around diggers and heavy earth-moving machinery and learned from his elders about how to work in the construction industry.
“I left school when I was 15 to work in the construction industry and by 17, I owned two businesses,” he said.

At 25 years old, he had a turning point in his life when his right arm was severely crushed between the lean-to of a building and the roof of a refrigerated truck.

“This affected me physically and emotionally,” Mr McIntyre said.
“It was a huge turning point for me — I didn’t know what the future held.”

He struggled to try to keep on working in the industry he grew up in and loved, but due to his injuries he was spiralling down.
“I’m thankful that I didn’t go down the path of alcohol and drugs or something stupid like taking my own life.”

At 35 years old, he had a vivid dream — he saw himself writing a book and travelling around schools in New Zealand talking to children about his life.

He knew this was something he really wanted to do but the problem was, he was not very good at reading or writing.
“When I was a young fella, I never listened in school. I bunked a lot and didn’t think the stuff the teacher was saying to me was important, as I was going to be working with my hands building stuff and operating earth- moving machines.
“I thought I would never have to read or write when working in hard labour.
“I had a dream to write this book but how could I when I thought I couldn’t ever write it?”

With his personal fear of reading and writing, he got in touch with an old teacher of his and was allowed to come and talk to the children about his life.
“I thought talking with children would be easy as . . . I was wrong.
“By stepping up I soon found I had another problem — I was terrified of public speaking.
“It was only children and I was so scared, I was physically shaking and sweating. I had never experienced such fear.
“I was terrified of doing something different, way outside my comfort zone,” he said.

He knew if he wanted to accomplish his dream of writing a book and going around the country talking to students, he had to overcome those fears.

“At 37 years old, with a positive attitude, I went back to primary school in the junior class to learn how to read and write better. It was scary but I did it.”

During this time spent at school he started on his book, Doug the Digger. The book took about three years to get published.

It was published on his 40th birthday, November 1 2000 and he said it was a present for himself.

After the book was published, it was time to start the next chapter of his dream — travelling around New Zealand speaking to different schools about his journey.
“The first time I tried it I was scared as hell, going from a classroom to a full school assembly.
“I had a choice to make — should I keep trying to do this or give up?

“I could have easily given up because I would tell myself I’m not a teacher, I’m no good at public speaking. I could find all these excuses but I chose to step up and have a go.

“The first experience talking at a school was a big learning curve but I kept it up and went to another school and another one and slowly got used to it.

“After going to a few schools, a principal from one of them said I would be a great Duffy Books role model and that’s how I got involved in Duffy Books.”

Mr McIntyre has been a Duffy Books role model for nearly 20 years and attended over 1100 school assemblies throughout New Zealand.

His visit to Ormond School was a roaring success with students answering his questions, listening attentively and engaging with the story Mr McIntyre shared.

He explained to the students about his journey so far and when he started talking about his book, Doug the Digger, all the kids were amazed.

He showed the students his early drafts of the story and how he started drawing Doug the Digger.
“The first draft was 16 pages and 1200 words,” he said.
“I’m not the best artist as you can see,” he said while holding up a crudely drawn stick figure-like digger.”
The kids loved it, they all laughed and smiled.

He told the students to “do your best at school while you can because it will really benefit you”.
“Be proud of your work. Even if it’s just a sketch on a random piece of paper, it could turn into something in the future.
“If someone laughs at your dreams and what you’re wanting to do, just keep smiling and do it,” he said.

It’s easy to say today that Mr McIntyre has accomplished his dreams far more than he originally dreamed.

When I asked him about how this makes him feel, he took a pause and a deep breath.
“I feel fulfilled,” he said.

“You know when you have a bad thing happen to you, it can make you think that you won’t be able to accomplish your dreams but it is possible to achieve more than you originally envisaged.

“I hope the kids take something away from the presentation and I hope they see the importance of learning all you can with a positive attitude while you’re at school.”

Alistair McIntyre is affectionately known by a few different names — Mr Mac, Doug the Digger — but he has one goal and that is to inspire students to do their best. He went to Ormond School to share his story with the children. Reporter Matai O’Connor went along and spoke with Alistair about why he does this . . .

When Alistair McIntyre was a child he did not grasp the importance of learning to read and write while at school but when he grew up, he understood how important it really is.

Mr McIntyre grew up around diggers and heavy earth-moving machinery and learned from his elders about how to work in the construction industry.
“I left school when I was 15 to work in the construction industry and by 17, I owned two businesses,” he said.

At 25 years old, he had a turning point in his life when his right arm was severely crushed between the lean-to of a building and the roof of a refrigerated truck.

“This affected me physically and emotionally,” Mr McIntyre said.
“It was a huge turning point for me — I didn’t know what the future held.”

He struggled to try to keep on working in the industry he grew up in and loved, but due to his injuries he was spiralling down.
“I’m thankful that I didn’t go down the path of alcohol and drugs or something stupid like taking my own life.”

At 35 years old, he had a vivid dream — he saw himself writing a book and travelling around schools in New Zealand talking to children about his life.

He knew this was something he really wanted to do but the problem was, he was not very good at reading or writing.
“When I was a young fella, I never listened in school. I bunked a lot and didn’t think the stuff the teacher was saying to me was important, as I was going to be working with my hands building stuff and operating earth- moving machines.
“I thought I would never have to read or write when working in hard labour.
“I had a dream to write this book but how could I when I thought I couldn’t ever write it?”

With his personal fear of reading and writing, he got in touch with an old teacher of his and was allowed to come and talk to the children about his life.
“I thought talking with children would be easy as . . . I was wrong.
“By stepping up I soon found I had another problem — I was terrified of public speaking.
“It was only children and I was so scared, I was physically shaking and sweating. I had never experienced such fear.
“I was terrified of doing something different, way outside my comfort zone,” he said.

He knew if he wanted to accomplish his dream of writing a book and going around the country talking to students, he had to overcome those fears.

“At 37 years old, with a positive attitude, I went back to primary school in the junior class to learn how to read and write better. It was scary but I did it.”

During this time spent at school he started on his book, Doug the Digger. The book took about three years to get published.

It was published on his 40th birthday, November 1 2000 and he said it was a present for himself.

After the book was published, it was time to start the next chapter of his dream — travelling around New Zealand speaking to different schools about his journey.
“The first time I tried it I was scared as hell, going from a classroom to a full school assembly.
“I had a choice to make — should I keep trying to do this or give up?

“I could have easily given up because I would tell myself I’m not a teacher, I’m no good at public speaking. I could find all these excuses but I chose to step up and have a go.

“The first experience talking at a school was a big learning curve but I kept it up and went to another school and another one and slowly got used to it.

“After going to a few schools, a principal from one of them said I would be a great Duffy Books role model and that’s how I got involved in Duffy Books.”

Mr McIntyre has been a Duffy Books role model for nearly 20 years and attended over 1100 school assemblies throughout New Zealand.

His visit to Ormond School was a roaring success with students answering his questions, listening attentively and engaging with the story Mr McIntyre shared.

He explained to the students about his journey so far and when he started talking about his book, Doug the Digger, all the kids were amazed.

He showed the students his early drafts of the story and how he started drawing Doug the Digger.
“The first draft was 16 pages and 1200 words,” he said.
“I’m not the best artist as you can see,” he said while holding up a crudely drawn stick figure-like digger.”
The kids loved it, they all laughed and smiled.

He told the students to “do your best at school while you can because it will really benefit you”.
“Be proud of your work. Even if it’s just a sketch on a random piece of paper, it could turn into something in the future.
“If someone laughs at your dreams and what you’re wanting to do, just keep smiling and do it,” he said.

It’s easy to say today that Mr McIntyre has accomplished his dreams far more than he originally dreamed.

When I asked him about how this makes him feel, he took a pause and a deep breath.
“I feel fulfilled,” he said.

“You know when you have a bad thing happen to you, it can make you think that you won’t be able to accomplish your dreams but it is possible to achieve more than you originally envisaged.

“I hope the kids take something away from the presentation and I hope they see the importance of learning all you can with a positive attitude while you’re at school.”

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