For the first precious weeks of her life, Amelia fought congenital setbacks that went undetected. Her parents Dan and Jane McAlpine watched as doctors struggled to diagnose what was happening, or failed to grasp the significance of her issues.
Working in the people-centred real estate industry Dan McAlpine has learned to accept the ups and downs that life comprises. But this was the toughest yet for a young family.
Amelia endured serious operations and 12 general anaesthetics up until she was nine-months-old.
“Having to give your daughter mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as a baby, take her in and give her the general anaesthetic every time was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” Dan says.
A Canberra property principal who has built a successful partnership in Kingston and Queanbeyan, Dan has benefited from outstanding role models. He learned invaluable lessons from his youngest daughter, too.
“You look at her now. She is a strong, happy, healthy little girl, you would not know there has ever been an issue,” Dan says.
“She is incredibly bright, but the first two years were incredibly challenging.” He came away thinking no one knows what may be happening in the background of another person’s life.
The experience adds to life’s unexpected realities. Accepting them, laughing at absurdities that make for a funny movie, and appreciating the gifts other people offer, on the sporting field and in the office, all help relate to people which is fundamental in real estate.
The second son of a high school principal and an English teacher, Jim and Lorraine McAlpine, Dan lived in several NSW country towns. These included Orange where a neighbour Alan Ridley, a Wests and Balmain and Australian rugby league test player became like a surrogate grandfather.
Alan and the older children next door taught Dan much about kicking a footie and sport in general. From there sport helped him to quickly slot into new schools where his parents taught.
His father was and remains a strong influence. As principal of Tumut High School, Jim McAlpine’s vocational education program won global acclaim. He was president of the NSW Secondary Principals Council and vice-president of the Australian Principals Council.
“His ability to relate to people from all walks of life, to lead and manage staff and all those components, I definitely look up to the way he raised us,” Dan says.
“Although I think I have a different leadership style. I’m probably harder on my girls than he was on me,” Dan says.
Dan was 16 when he arrived at Canberra Grammar School as a boarder. He remained for two years, then left Canberra briefly, later returned for university and met Jane.
Their two daughters, Lucy 8, and Amelia 6, keep them busy following up their French, tennis and dancing lessons, swimming and netball. He still finds time in winter for snow skiing, and at other times trips to the coast, fishing and an occasional swing at golf.
Much of his energy and thoughts centre on work as co-principal of Belle Property Kingston and Belle Property Queanbeyan, and helping develop their growing staff.
Yet sometimes Dan likes to kick back and relax laughing at a good comedy. His favourite is the cult classic Super Troopers. He’ll watch anything with Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller or Owen Wilson.
If he were to star in a movie he would be James Bond. “I think anybody would like to play James Bond, wouldn’t they?”
His varied, intense life fits the nature of his career. “In real estate, you need the ability to relate to people from all walks of life, the energy and motivation to work hard to succeed in this business,” Dan says.
He once thought hotels would provide a career. To rise through the ranks though would have required overseas travel which was out of the question for someone starting a family.
His father-in-law Peter Davies, who had owned a real estate business for 30 years, pointed out Dan’s suitability for the industry. This coupled with his selling experience in hotels and his interest in homes going back to the family’s federation home in Orange led him into real estate. Dan recalls LJ Hooker Manuka proprietor Stephen Thompson as an excellent early mentor on his journey to becoming a principal, leader and teacher for his staff.