“Ordinary people doing extraordinary things” might be the slogan of local entrepreneur Pieter Rademeyer Junior’s latest venture, but there is no better way to describe this multi-faceted young man.
On second thoughts, this 26-year-old, who boasts entrepreneurial skills, good family connections, various university degrees – and a pair of piercing blue eyes to boot – is anything but ordinary.
However, it is not personal success that motivates him. “It is rather a means to an end,” he says thoughtfully, sipping on his coffee at a well-known rendezvous in Port Elizabeth on this chilly autumn morning. “It might sound corny, but I feel like this nurturing being that was put on earth to help the youth reach their full potential.”
He pauses, taking another sip. “That is one of the reasons why I entered the Mr South Africa contest this year. I knew it would be a great platform from where I could get involved in the things that really means something to me.”
It comes as no surprise then that he initially chose the field of education as his preferred line of work. “The four years I spent as an Afrikaans teacher at Stellenbosch High School were some of the most fulfilling of my life,” he says nostalgically.
About a year and a half ago, he moved back to his roots in the Friendly City to start the now very successful Elizabeth Place, a conference and live theatre venue run by his event management company, PR Unlimited. Success in business has given him more freedom to focus on his true passion – upliftment of the youth.
“Even though I did not win (Mr SA; he was a finalist), I always saw it as a vehicle for me to get involved with our youth.” He looks me straight in the eyes. “I made it my business to get involved.” He approached Childcare South Africa and they appointed him as their public relations officer in the Eastern Cape.
His passion for children, especially the ones in need, also led to him getting involved with the PE-based Isithembiso haven for abandoned babies. “I’ve since pledged my wholehearted support,” he says. “How could I not?
“There are angels working there. You know, some of the babies were found in toilets,” he says, his voice suddenly muffled. Another sip. He continues in a lower tone. “Others were assaulted by their parents or family members.
“I have seen the wonders that they have accomplished with these children, rehabilitating and helping them to live the normal life that every child is entitled to.”
Rademeyer says he experienced an oddly enlightening moment when he recently judged an oratory competition at his former alma mater (Andrew Rabie High School). “I once again realised that working with children is my calling in life,” he says softly, moving forward in his chair. “They energise my soul. So to be truthful, they help me as much as I help them.”
Although he assists others to shape a better future for themselves, he too has an insatiable yearning to increase his knowledge. “I must confess, I’m a bit of a professional student. There is nothing that scares me more than becoming intellectually stagnant.”
The chances of that happening are as remote as a thunderstorm in the Kalahari. He recently obtained an honours degree in Education Management and is currently busy with his masters. Rademeyer is also studying towards an honours degree in Afrikaans. “Hopefully it will lead to a little bit of wisdom as well,” he says, a smile running over his face.
There is method to his studying madness, as some might be prone to call it. It is aimed at accomplishing his ultimate dream of opening an Afrikaans private school in PE. His business ventures are the key pieces in his private school puzzle, he says, as it will provide financial security when establishing the school.
He beckons the waiter for a refill, and then goes on. “We need to equip youngsters with the right skills in order to send well-balanced young adults into the world. I want to establish a school where quality education and life skills development are intertwined.
“Pupils must be taught to be proud of themselves and to do good to others. The rest will come automatically.”
While describing himself as “not your typical” entrant, the Mr SA experience – his first foray into competitions of this nature – motivated him to enter this year’s Mr PE competition (he was a finalist at the time of the interview).
“I entered both competitions with ulterior motives. I saw them as launch pads to greater things; the things that I believe in,” he says openly. “These titles should be used as leverage to serve those who did not have the privileged life that some of us were fortunate to have.”
Being able to grow up in a stable family home is something he treasures about his own youth. “We were a tight family unit. Still are. We stand together no matter what.”
They are four siblings, of which he and his twin brother are the youngest. “I have two older sisters in Cape Town as well,” he says. “The ideal for everyone is to belong to a steady, secure family. We are lucky.”
He grew up in Newton Park in what used to be the mayoral home. “My grandfather was mayor of PE,” he says. “I was the third generation (his dad is also Pieter) in that home to carry the family name.”
Positive childhood memories and his work with Childcare SA encouraged him to start a Family of the Year fundraising competition in conjunction with a major media group in the Eastern Cape. “Besides raising money for an important cause, the idea is to emphasise the role of the family unit as a support system.”
Other than his obvious talents as a businessman, Rademeyer also busies himself with writing and singing. He launched his debut CD, Eenvoud, in 2005 while still in Stellenbosch. He is also a freelance writer for well-known Afrikaans publications.
This talent has led to his latest project – a monthly free magazine for PE entitled PE Unlimited. “We will be focusing on local people and our slogan is ‘Ordinary people doing extraordinary things’,” he says.
Just when I think there is no chance of him finding time for anything else, he surprises me with the fact that he is presently producing a music spectacular for PEAAT, in which he will also perform. “It will be staged at the Savoy Theatre in August with a live orchestra and a cast of fifty.
“I have to focus on more than one thing at a time. That’s when I perform at my best,” he says, stating the obvious.
It is hard to imagine anything that can daunt this vibrant young man, but there is one thing that had him shaking in his boots, he admits – having to model a Speedo in the Mr PE contest . . .
Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
Pieter Rademeyer (PR Unlimited)