Caritas 47

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Official Opening of the John Martin Building

Also featuring

• Supreme Court President

• Myreside Pavilion

• S3 Projects


Welcome 1

President’s Update 2

Introducing the New President and Vice President for 2021 3

Visit of HRH The Princess Royal 4

Watsonian Becomes First Scottish President of the Supreme Court 6

Ex Corde Caritas - Watson’s Responds 10

NHS Louisa Jordan - Communication and Collaboration 12

Innovate to Ventilate Global Competition 14

Rod Slater on S3 Projects - The Good Days and the Not So Good Days 16

George Watson’s Ladies’ College 150th Anniversary 20

The History of Myreside Pavilion 22

Interview with Gregor Firth 26

Lighting and Sound Crew 28

From The Archives 30

Close Encounters - Wildlife on Projects 32

Watsonians in the News 34

Watsonian Sections and Branches 36

Calendar of Events 40

Remembering - The CCF 44



HRH The Princess Royal departs

after officially opening the John

Martin Building read the full

story on pages 4 - 5.


Karen Goodman

Andrew Grant

Margaret Peat

Morven Skirving


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which came into force in May 2018, you can view our Privacy Policy by visiting

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preferences at any time by contacting the Development Office.




Welcome to our 2020 edition of Caritas, coming

to you during what is perhaps the strangest year,

for many of us, in living memory.

The pandemic has, of course, impacted our

programme of events and our ability to meet

informally, but determined we stay connected with

our Watsonian community both close to home and

across the world, we launched #WatsoniansLinked.

A place for you to share your news, stories and

memories; but also a place for you to hear about

life on campus. To read these, or contribute

your own story, please go to www.gwc.org.uk/

WatsoniansLinked. You can also read regular updates

by joining our Facebook page www.facebook.com/


We couldn’t let this edition pass without sharing

a few inspirational stories with you by former pupils,

who have been directly involved with the COVID-19

crisis through engineering, innovation and front

line care. You can read their stories on pages 10 - 15.

Plans for the George Watson’s Ladies’ College 150th

Anniversary, in 2021, are now confirmed - you can

read more about these plans on pages 20 - 21. We

have also established a GWLC 150 Facebook group,

which already has almost 250 members, who have

shared some fascinating and fun memories from their

school days at St Alban’s Road and George Square.

Where we can, we are moving our postponed events

online, which includes plans for our 2020 Anniversary

Reunions later this year. That said, undeterred

by the pandemic, we are also planning our calendar

of events for 2021 - which you will find on page 40 -

when we hope to be able to see many of you again

here on campus, at Colinton Road.

Finally, please take time to complete and return

the enclosed Update Form. Where possible, we will

share news, updates and event invitations with you

by email, so please ensure that we have your details

correct. It is also important that we know your

communication preferences to comply with GDPR

rules, so please update those. You will see that we are

asking you to let us know if the address we send mail

to is your ‘home’ or ‘parental’ address. We are asking

this as we realise that our younger Watsonians may

not have set down permanent roots; and, therefore,

may still be receiving mail to a ‘parental’ address.

As well as an address for mail, you also have the

option to receive event invites to an alternative

address; for example if you are living and working

in London.

I hope that you enjoy this 47th edition of Caritas,

and if you have a story you would like to

share, please don’t hesitate to contact me

via development@gwc.org.uk

Ex Corde Caritas

Morven Skirving (née Kerr, Class of 1990)

Alumni Relations Officer

Watsonian Council

Watsonian President

Vice President


Director of Development

Elected member

Johnny Bacigalupo

Gillian Sandilands

Melvyn Roffe

Karen Goodman

Ben Di Rollo

Elected member

Elected member


Heads of Sixth Year

David Ferguson

Fiona Hourston

Morven Skirving

Michael Cantle

Heidi Fogarty

George Watson’s College, Colinton Road, Edinburgh EH10 5EG

Tel: 0131 446 6008 | email: development@gwc.org.uk


George Watson’s College is administered by the

Edinburgh Merchant Company Education Board,

a charity registered in Scotland SC009747.




It is fair to say that my second

year as President has, like the

plans and hopes of so many, not

quite turned out as expected.

That said, it has still been a

busy and successful year for the

Watsonian Club and its Sections.

Our regional Watsonian Branches may not have been

able to come together as planned, but I was delighted

to be able to join the Principal, Melvyn Roffe, in hosting

a number of very successful online meetings with our

regional organisers. These meetings provided the first

ever opportunity for our volunteers, from all corners of

the globe, to come together; giving them the chance to

share details of the history of their Club and how they

were managing to stay connected with members

during lockdown.

Like our regional groups, lockdown has also had a

significant impact on our Sports Sections and the

Community Choir. You can read more about the Clubs

and Sections, on pages 36 - 39; and a copy of the

detailed annual report from each Section can be found

on the Watsonian Club website pages. During the

year, we were asked by members to establish two new

sections, the LGBTQ Section and the BAME Section.

Work is currently underway to recruit Office Bearers

and to establish the details of their constitutions.

For the Watsonian Council, the pandemic was not

the first disaster to be faced in 2020. On Wednesday

5 February, fire swept through the upper bar and

Watsonian Benevolent Fund

The Benevolent Fund provides help to

Watsonians through one-off and monthly

financial allowances, and grants to

purchase equipment.

roof of Myreside Pavilion. This much loved and

important landmark, on the School’s estate, was left

in a pretty sorry state. To support the School, the

Watsonian Council reached out to members to gather

their views on the future of the Pavilion. Over 250

individuals, from across Scotland, completed the survey

and this feedback has informed the future plans. It is

hoped that the Pavilion will be back to full operation in

spring/summer 2021.

I also wanted to share with you the very sad news

that Rod Slater, former President (2010-2011), passed

away in August. Rod joined Watson’s in 1983 as Head

of Modern Languages, retiring in 2008. At the beginning

of the year, Rod had written of his experiences from

S3 Projects, which we are pleased to share on

pages 16-19.

We are always looking for new ways to grow

participation, so if you have any suggestions for

new sport, creative arts or other interest groups,

then we would be delighted to hear from you.

Johnny Bacigalupo (Class of 1995)

President of the Watsonian Club

Further details about the Fund, including how to

apply for funding, or seek advice, can be found at

www.gwc.org.uk/fundingforwatsonians or

by email: development@gwc.org.uk


President-elect of the

Watsonian Club, 2021-2023

Gillian Sandilands (Class of 1978)

Vice President-elect of the

Watsonian Club, 2021-2023

Ben Di Rollo (Class of 2002)

Gillian joined George Watson’s Ladies’ College in

Primary 3, at St Alban’s Road, moving to George

Square and finally Colinton Road, following the

merger of the Ladies’ College and Boys’ School.

Gillian completed her school education in 1978 and

went on to study Biological Sciences at The University

of Edinburgh and later an MBA with the Open

University. She has had a varied and interesting career,

building on her science background. Throughout her

career, Gillian was involved in bringing novel medical

devices, in vitro diagnostic and pharmaceutical

products to market. She has worked both at home

and abroad, living in the Netherlands and the

United States.

As Head of Global Compliance and Regulatory Affairs

she and her team played an important role in medical

product compliance and safety. Married to Stewart,

they have two children, Kirsty and Ewan, who were

educated at Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools prior to

heading off to English universities. Gillian is a Member

of the Royal Company of Merchants of the City of

Edinburgh, where she has served on the Master’s

Court and chaired the Charities’ Committee. She

currently sits on the Audit and Risk Committee and

the Education Board. Gillian is also a mentor for small

start-up companies and is currently the Chairperson

of the GWLC 150 Committee, who are organising

the commemorative celebrations for the 150th

anniversary in 2021.

Ben attended George Watson’s College from

nursery until graduation in 2002.

He went on to study Urban and Regional Planning

at Heriot-Watt University, before switching to Estate

Management at Edinburgh Napier University. Ben is

currently a Director and board member of a solicitor

estate agency in Edinburgh and Lothians, which he

co-founded. He is a technology enthusiast and helped

develop property software which is widely used in

the market today.

He also holds a place on the Board of Directors at

St Columba’s Hospice, where he helps advise on

the charity’s retail shops and marketing initiatives.

In addition, Ben is a mentor at RBS Entrepreneurial

Spark where he has mentored several entrepreneurs

to set-up and grow their businesses.

He was a keen rugby player and was a member of the

School’s 1st XV from S3-S6 and went on to spend over

a decade as a player for the Watsonian Football Club,

where he retired as Captain - a torn Achilles was his

body telling him to stop! Ben is married to Heather

and they have two boys, Leo and Seb, who currently

attend Bonaly Primary School. Ben spends much of his

spare time on the touchline and ferrying his boys to

their various clubs, but still manages to fit in the odd

round of golf, sea kayaking and hill running.

Gillian will be installed as President on Founder’s

Day 2021.







After the planned Opening in April

was postponed, we were delighted to

welcome Her Royal Highness The

Princess Royal on 22 September, to

officially open the new John Martin

Building. Fittingly, her visit was 88

years to the day that her Great Uncle,

His Royal Highness Prince George,

first opened the School buildings at

Colinton Road and 17 years after

her previous visit.


The John Martin Junior School

Building has been the School’s most

ambitious capital build. The £8.2

million extension provides new

modern teaching and learning spaces,

an open plan library overlooking the

Pentlands, flexible learning spaces

for modern languages, a new music

suite, performance spaces, and an

open entrance and reception that can

be used as a social space, as well as

for events.

Former pupil, John Martin (Class of

1948) left a generous legacy to the

School, which made a significant

contribution towards the extension

of the Junior School building, named

in his memory.

Arriving to the musical

accompaniment of our awardwinning

Pipe Band, The Princess

Royal was greeted by the Lord

Provost, Frank Ross (Class of 1976)

and led through a walkway lined

with smiling Junior School pupils

enthusiastically waving flags.

After being introduced to The Master

of the Royal Company of Merchants

of the City of Edinburgh, Peter Hillier;

Principal, Melvyn Roffe; and Head of

the Junior School, George Salmond,

Her Royal Highness began her tour of

the new building.

The Princess observed the learning

taking place in the modern, bright

classrooms and met pupils in the

building’s new Upper Primary library.

Her Royal Highness then viewed the

artwork entitled Tree of Life by textile

artist Alison Binns before visiting

the building’s state of the art music

and performance hub, taking in the

sounds of the ongoing music lessons.

After signing the visitors’ book, which

was signed by her father in 1966 and

her mother in 1982, the Principal

invited the Princess to unveil the

plaque to officially open the building.

Her Royal Highness then made a

short speech and shared her positive

thoughts on the development.

Commenting that “This is a terrific

addition to the School and its

capabilities in terms of education but

it also came at a time when it could

respond, perhaps even better, to the

challenges of the pandemic”.

As the Princess prepared to leave,

Ruaridh Calvert (P7) presented,

on behalf of all pupils, a specially

commissioned book, containing

illustrations by our pupils of the

54 Articles in the United Nations

Convention on the Rights of the

Child; and a posy of flowers was

presented by Caitlin Scott (P4).

As Her Royal Highness was

escorted back to her car through

a pupil guard of honour, the

Pipe Band bade farewell in true

Watson’s style.


UK Supreme Court

Watsonian becomes

first Scottish President

of the Supreme Court

Video interview by the School Captains Phoebe Fogarty (Class of 2020) and

Lachlan White (Class of 2020).

At the start of April, we were excited to have the opportunity to interview Lord Reed

(Class of 1973), just a few months after he took up his new position as President of the

UK’s Supreme Court. A rare opportunity for us to ask this successful Watsonian about

his profession, career, and thoughts on some relevant global affairs.


Phoebe: You took over as President of the Supreme

Court from Lady Hale, the first woman to occupy that

position. What do you feel that you, or the field of law

as a whole, can do to open the higher levels of the

profession to more women, minorities, and working

class people?

Lord Reed: There are now a lot of women having very

successful careers at the Bar and they are finding their

way onto the bench as judges. We haven’t attracted

as many women applicants to the Supreme Court

as we would like, so my role is to encourage more

applications. Things are moving in the right direction.

With ethnic minority members, the position is similar.

There is a time lag between the large-scale immigration,

in the 1970s and later, from the Indian subcontinent,

Africa and the Caribbean, and the opportunities for the

children of that generation to be appointed as QCs or

judges. It has been a question of time, really, for them to

get experienced enough, and senior enough, to be filling

leading positions in the legal hierarchy, but they are

approaching that now. Problems associated with social

class are, I think, much harder to eradicate. We live in a

society where the social class you are born into has an

impact on your life chances. The Bar and the solicitors’

profession are competitive, market-oriented professions

- they want the most able people; and they tend to be

produced by the top universities, and a high proportion

of those have gone to top schools. That’s a difficult

thing to eradicate. Obviously you want the law to be

open to people of talent whatever their background and

universities are doing a great deal to increase access, so

I hope that things will change.

The Supreme Court has certainly been busier with

politically controversial questions than its predecessor

- the House of Lords - but I don’t think that it is cause,

and effect. If the House of Lords had carried on in its

judicial role, it would have been hearing the same cases.

Lachlan: Do you think that the independence of the

judiciary is under threat in Hong Kong and, if so, is

this a phenomenon unique to that context or could

independent judiciaries be under threat worldwide?

Lord Reed: There are certainly a great many parts of the

world where they don’t have independent judiciaries, or

where independent judiciaries are indeed under threat.

At the end of February, I was in India giving the keynote

address at a conference of Chief Justices from around

the world; every country from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

The judges there were talking about the problems

they had with governments that sought to pressurise

them or simply ignored their judgments. Hong Kong

does have a judiciary which is independent - I sit there

myself as a judge for about a month a year and I would

not sit if it wasn’t an independent judiciary. Hong Kong

has had its difficulties recently with the riots, but the

courts demonstrated their independence. There was

criticism of the courts for granting bail to people who

were arrested for rioting, but the courts were acting in

accordance with the usual practice of criminal courts.

So they have, I think, shown their independence.

Lachlan: Since its inception, the Supreme Court has

played an ever more significant role in political matters.

Do you think it was inevitable that the creation of the

Court would lead to such involvement?

Lord Reed: I don’t think it was to do with the creation

of the Supreme Court, I think it was to do with changes

in the law and society more widely. There are certain

legal developments that have made politically sensitive

issues more likely to find their way to the courts, such

as devolution. Inevitably, there are going to be disputes

between Whitehall and St Andrew’s House [The Scottish

Government headquarters] that find their way into the

courts because one or other party isn’t happy with what

they can achieve by negotiation. Brexit was another

important development in the law which brought issues

to the court that would not have found their way there.

Wider changes in society are also an important factor -

the scale of immigration, into the UK and Europe, has

resulted in a lot of new legal regulation, and where

there is legal regulation there is scope for cases to come

before the courts. With environmental change, the

same is true; as we saw in the recent Heathrow Airport

case. We also handed down judgment in a case about

surrogate parenthood - that sort of case would have

been unimaginable until very recently.

UK Supreme Court

Phoebe: Looking forward, do you see the Supreme

Court playing a pivotal role in resolving legal tension

post Brexit, for example around borders and the Good

Friday Agreement?

Lord Reed: Well, I certainly hope not! What happens

depends on the form that agreements take. If they

take the form of legally binding obligations, as the

withdrawal agreement with the EU does; then inevitably,

if people can’t resolve their differences amicably, they

are entitled to go to the court. I suspect that we will have

quite a lot of issues to deal with after Brexit, to do with

interpreting the Withdrawal Agreement, and the UK

legislation giving effect to it. We are certainly not looking

forward to it with eager anticipation and if political

institutions are able to resolve things politically, then so

much the better.


UK Supreme Court

Phoebe: At a time where our politics and media are

becoming increasingly antagonistic towards the

judiciary, do you ever feel threatened or intimidated?

Lord Reed: No, I don’t think we do feel threatened or

intimidated. There are occasions when sections of the

media will seek to influence us, as they are used to

being able to put pressure on politicians, and that can

work because at the end of the day popularity matters

to politicians - they need to win elections. Judges don’t

need to win elections - we are not in the popularity

business - we just have to apply the law as best we can.

The pressure put on the Supreme Court over Brexit, for

example, did not have any effect one way or the other.

However, I wouldn’t just laugh it off - the allegations

that are sometimes made in the press that judges are

biased are quite wrong and that ought to be taken

seriously because it is important that people have trust

in the integrity of the courts. The main problem that

a lot of adverse publicity can cause a judge is not for

himself or herself, but for their family. They can worry

that the judge is upset by the coverage, or sometimes

they can find themselves on the receiving end of the

unpleasantness caused. I can remember - a long time

ago - when I was criticised quite seriously in one or

two newspapers over a criminal sentence. My children

were at primary school at that time and I remember

one of them having difficulties at school over things

people were saying to her about her dad, based on

what they had obviously heard said at home. It is not

always pleasant, but it doesn’t actually intimidate us or

influence our decisions in any way.

Lachlan: Was joining the UK Supreme Court from a

Scots law background an advantage or a problem, given

that most of your colleagues will have come from an

English background?

Lord Reed: A bit of both! I was in a slightly unusual

position, as I was qualified as an English barrister and

a Scottish advocate, though I hadn’t really practiced

as a barrister and my knowledge of English law was

extremely rusty. As most of the cases we deal with are

concerned with problems of English law, there were

some areas where I had to do quite a lot of studying to

get up to speed! Overall, there are advantages in coming

from a Scottish background as Scotland is quite a small

jurisdiction, Scottish judges can cover almost every area

of the law in the course of their careers. On the other

hand, an English barrister can spend their whole career

working in a particular area of law and continue on in

that area as a judge. When you get to the Supreme Court

there are only 12 Justices to cover the entirety of the law

so you can no longer specialise. If you come to the Court

as a Scottish judge you will have dealt with both family

law and patents, and pretty much everything else - that

generalist background is definitely a major advantage.

Phoebe: As someone who has worked in human rights

law, what do you think is the biggest current challenge

to human rights both in the UK and globally?

Lord Reed: I would say the greatest challenge probably

comes from mass immigration. If you think about the

major developments in the world, I think one of the

most important is large scale immigration, partly caused


y the level of conflict around the world - particularly in

the Middle East. That will increasingly be exacerbated by

the effects of climate change. Some areas of the world

are going to become unable to sustain their populations,

for example in Africa, and there are other parts of the

world that will become uninhabitable. If you think about

the Ganges Delta in Bangladesh, or entire countries

which are very low lying like the Maldives, there is going

to be an awful lot of movement of people around the

world, which is then fiercely resisted by other countries.

I think over the last ten years or so, the greatest

challenge to human rights in Europe has been the

treatment of immigrants and refugees, and I don’t think

that is likely to diminish. I think it will probably become

a more serious problem, rather than a less serious one.

Lachlan: What do you see as the major implications

of the COVID-19 outbreak on law and civil liberties,

especially due to the new powers given to the

government and police?

Lord Reed: The powers that have been given are

obviously those that Parliament has considered

appropriate, and I can’t really comment on the policies.

It is important that the powers are time limited; and, of

course, if they are exercised in what people regard as

an unnecessarily heavy-handed way then people will

not be slow to react and criticise what is happening. As

for the operation of the law, the Appellate Courts - like

my own - are able to continue reasonably well using

virtual hearings, very like this interview. The problem

has been much greater for criminal cases, where you

have juries. As we speak, attempts are being made to

develop ways of holding criminal trials. I don’t have any

apprehensions about the longer implications for the law

of all this. The courts will obviously go back to hearings

in court as soon as that is practical. I think we have

got used to holding meetings online and I expect that

may continue - people may not travel into work as

much. I just hope this will all come to a close sooner

rather than later and life can go back to normal.

Lachlan: Do you feel that your time at Watson’s

prepared you in any particular way for a career in law?

Lord Reed: Yes, I think it did in a number of ways.

Most importantly, in order to have any sort of successful

career in law it is essential to have a good education,

and I received that. More particularly, it became very

obvious to me - when I went to The University of

Edinburgh - that schools like Watson’s and Heriot’s

produced pupils that were generally more confident

and articulate than many of the other students. A career

in law is very much to do with confidence and being

able to articulate your ideas clearly, so that was

important. You were encouraged, when I was at school,

to speak up and express your views. There were also

opportunities of all kinds given to me at school.

For example, I was a good singer so I did a lot of solos

in the choir, and that gives you confidence performing

in front of a large audience. I was also President of

the Literary Club and that gave me the opportunity

to get used to speaking in public, which is something

that a lot of people find very difficult. So, I’m very

grateful to Watson’s for giving me a good education

and affording me the opportunities that it did, which

I think have contributed greatly to my success after I

left school.

UK Supreme Court



Watson’s Responds

True to the spirit of Ex Corde Caritas, our pupils,

staff and Wasonians have played their part -

throughout the pandemic - to use their skills,

expertise and time to help others. Whether

supporting the NHS, helping the most vulnerable

in our communities or looking after the children of

our key workers, never before have we challenged

ourselves and cared for others in the way we have

during 2020.

To show our support to the NHS and help protect

key workers when there was a shortage of PPE, the

School’s Technology Department made face shields,

which were gifted to St John’s Hospital, Marie Curie

Scotland, Caley Home Care, Capability Scotland

and others.

The School was open throughout lockdown, providing

care to key workers’ children. This provision was

offered beyond Watson’s pupils and our neighbours at

the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and other staff providing

clinical and social care in our community, were given

access to the School’s car parks. And, as an ongoing

message of support, the floodlights at the front of the

Senior School will remain blue as long as the pandemic

is with us - our simple way of recognising the NHS and

all key workers.

Pupils and staff from the Development Office wrote

postcards to hundreds of Watsonians, around the

world, who we knew were living alone and who may

have found it particularly challenging over the past few

months. Many of those receiving a note reciprocated

and we were heartened by the wonderful responses.

Junior School Pupils also designed and wrote

‘Thinking of you’ notes for the Marie Curie Hospice

while others volunteered to phone those supported

through the Eric Liddell Centre. All of these simple

kindnesses helped to combat the loneliness that so

many were suffering from. And, within our own School

community, Senior School pupils volunteered to do

virtual paired reading with the Lower Primary pupils,

which proved to be a wonderful success.

Perhaps one of the most poignant and impactful

ways we were able to reach out and engage with our

Watsonian family, was thanks to the efforts of Steven

Griffin, Assistant Director of Music, and his Worldwide

Watsonian Virtual Choir. More than 200 Watsonians

took part, each sending their own recording of Steven’s

arrangement of an ancient song which evokes a

sense of belonging and fellowship; Auld Lang Syne.

We were grateful to Simon Laidlaw (Class of 1990) for

editing the contributions into a moving performance

where we, virtually, linked arms across the world. This

video, which has been viewed over 3000 times, is still

available to view at: www.gwc.org.uk/auldlangsyne

However, this was not the only role which music played

in our response to the pandemic. During the Thursday

night “Clap for Carers”, our talented musicians showed

their support by playing wonderful tunes in salute.

Bagpipes, drums and violins were just some of the

instruments that could be heard across the City

and beyond.

We know that many of you will have unique stories

to share and we would love to hear these, as we are

compiling a collection of written stories, images and

artefacts for the School’s Archive. In the meantime,

we are pleased to share on pages 12 - 15 the stories

of two Watsonians who, in very different ways, rose

to the challenges borne from the pandemic.




Watson’s Responds


& Collaboration

Neil Granger (Class of 2000) is a Regional Director

with AECOM, an infrastructure firm who pride

themselves on solving some of the world’s most

complex challenges. It is clear AECOM’s involvement

in the establishment of the NHS Louisa Jordan

Hospital in Glasgow, earlier this year, was a challenge

that required significant assiduity as Neil explained

shortly after its opening.

I am not going to lie, it was somewhat daunting being

briefed on a project where the fairly explicit message is

‘failure is not an option, as people will die’. That was the

message received, from the Army, at the initial briefing

for the NHS Louisa Jordan temporary hospital at the

Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow.

Our challenge was to turn a building, more accustomed

to hosting music concerts and exhibitions, into a 1000+

bed facility to treat patients with COVID-19; with a

quarter of those beds providing high dependency care.

To ratchet up the pressure - a little - we also had just

three weeks.

When I took the call, from Thomas Rodger, AECOM’s

Healthcare lead in Scotland, to tell me I would be part

of the team developing the design and delivery strategy

of the electrical systems for the project, I was less than

one week into trying to get to grips with home working

for two parents, with two small children. From the very

start of the project, it became clear that there was no

chance of easing into a lockdown routine at home and

being on site was the only real option. It was also clear

that the challenges were far wider ranging than trying to

do something in three weeks, that would normally take

three years.

Strategic planning started immediately, but we also

had the challenges of social distancing protocols, and

scenario planning - ‘what if’ someone on site tested

positive for COVID-19. Lessons learned from the

London Excel NHS Nightingale Hospital were discussed

at length and significant differences between the two

facilities were identified, including moving away from

a traditional ‘field hospital’ to a ‘temporary hospital’,

where full healthcare standards had to apply. We knew

what we designed and constructed would be heavily

scrutinised and very little leeway would be granted,

irrespective of time and building related constraints.

Engineering is about adapting and finding solutions to

different challenges. In the case of NHS Louisa Jordan,

the challenges were numerous and not always obvious.


We had to think on our feet and adapt, quickly realising

that the 35 year old building would not allow the most

efficient solutions to be implemented, such as how to

evacuate 1000+ patients and staff in the event of a fire.

It was not just the existing building that posed

significant challenges, other COVID facilities began to

be briefed and our strategies had to balance clinical

requirements against supply chain availability. Our

designs and decisions had to be made quickly to

ensure necessary materials, equipment and manpower

were earmarked for Louisa Jordan. Sourcing power

supplies to ventilators, for high dependency areas, was

particularly challenging as the necessary equipment

simply was not available. Being asked whether we

‘could make something work’ and still comply with

healthcare requirements, using the only equipment

that was available in the UK at the time, did nothing

to ease the pressure.

Ultimately, finding solutions came down to

communication and collaboration. The project

brought together different parties who would

traditionally compete for work and would typically

hold different views on approach. These views were

put to one side and everyone pulled together as a

single team, with an attitude of ‘we can pick that up’

or ‘we might be able to help with that’. That was

probably one of the biggest takeaways I had from

my time at NHS Louisa Jordan and certainly, I believe,

there should be more done to instil a genuinely

collaborative approach in industry and society

in general.

On April 19 2020, just under three weeks after I was

first involved in the project, the Louisa Jordan Hospital

was handed over to the NHS - ready, if necessary, to

take its first patient the following day. Over 1000 people

made the project a success, the clinicians, designers

and contractors, but also the security staff and cleaners

who kept us safe, as we did what we needed to do. On

handover day I felt proud to have been involved, but

I was not sure our achievement had fully sunk in - I

still don’t. Unlike other projects, it is a strange feeling

knowing that, no matter how long the days and nights

were at the time, I do not want to see the building used

and that the efforts may simply have been an exercise

in ‘just in case’.

As I start to look back on it and acknowledge that,

realistically, my role was a tiny piece of the overall

picture, I can only thank those involved in delivering

care at the frontline, whether it involves NHS Louisa

Jordan or not.

NB: Photos were taken during the set up phase of the

hospital and are not a reflection of the finished facility.



Watson’s Responds

Watson’s Engineer

Takes on Global


CORE Vent takes an alternative approach to a traditional

“bellow” ventilator system using a novel concept to

maintain positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP)

through a single, simplified system. It could also be

supplied in ‘kit form’ where all the essential components

come boxed, to be assembled at a facility close to

end use.

The CoVent-19 Challenge had strategic partnerships

with manufacturers, global health Non Governmental

Organisations, government agencies and healthcare

systems. All working with the challenge champion to

transfer the winning design to a partner manufacturer

for production.

Ross explained: “When I heard about the CoVent-19

Challenge I decided I had to enter to try to help the

growing number of COVID-19 sufferers across the world.

The pandemic was having devastating effects on people

and communities everywhere and one of the best ways

to treat sufferers was by ensuring there were effective

and affordable ventilators available, especially in

developing countries that don’t have many resources.

In spring this year, Ross Hunter (Class of 1996), a Scottish

design engineer, was announced as the only UK based

finalist in a global challenge - CoVent19 - to invent

a new ventilator to help COVID-19 sufferers in

developing countries.

CoVent-19 was an open innovation challenge for

engineers, innovators, designers and makers. The

Innovate2Ventilate brief was to develop low-cost,

readily deployable mechanical ventilators with the

winning prototype being manufactured by partners

for use in developing countries across the globe.

For the last few years, Ross - in his spare time - had been

developing a new concept for speciality coffee machines

and, as the pandemic worsened, he realised this

design could be adapted for a ventilator. Over a period

of just three weeks, Ross developed a prototype and 3D

models for his CORE Vent product.

“It took me a while to take in the news that I had reached

the finals of the challenge, being the only UK finalist,

up against such strong international competition. I was

pleased to have been able to use my design skills and

experience in such a worthwhile way while my own

family business was in lockdown, and to be able to

involve colleagues in this fast-moving challenge. We’re

now working hard to develop our CORE Vent prototype

into a fully-functioning ventilator that I hope will end up

helping those people affected by coronavirus.

“I studied mechanical engineering and product design

and have always enjoyed tinkering and inventing.

At Watson’s, the IT department and Technology

department and its teachers and fantastic facilities

really inspired me to be creative. Living on a farm, as a

youngster, also helped shape me; hands on experience

welding at the age of ten, working with my grandfather

who loved engineering and fixing things, which allowed

me to learn real practical skills. I feel really privileged to

have had the opportunity to attend a school that had so

much to offer everyone, and to be able to use the skills

I have learned over the years to do something I love.

And, the Watsonian network really has helped shape my

career - I have met Watsonians all over the world while


travelling for business. If I was to give any advice to young pupils

leaving school, it would be to do something you enjoy and take any

opportunities given to you.”

Shortly after the finalists were announced, Ross and his team,

having clearly impressed the US Senate with their work, received a

letter of congratulations for their efforts from former Presidential

Candidate and United States Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The winning design was created by a team of engineering alumni

from Smith College, Massachusetts with their SmithVent design.

We send our congratulations to Ross and his team for flying the

flag in this global competition.


Rod Slater

An S3 Projects Legend, Mentor and Friend

We are pleased to share the following two articles, written by Rod Slater in

June 2020 and originally featured as part of #WatsoniansLinked. Shortly

before he left for France this summer, we asked Rod if we could share

these amusing pieces, which had proved so popular online, with the wider

Watsonian community and he heartily agreed.

We were greatly saddened to hear that Rod had passed away on

7 August and we publish these here in tribute to him.

A Bad Day on Projects

Wake up just after six. Oh no, the wind is howling

through the gaps in the window frame, the rain is

beating against the flimsy glass-panes. No cosy

double glazing in this hostel! Pull the quilt over my

head, try to go back to sleep, but can’t. This is the third

day running of this stormy weather. I’m beginning to

run out of low level plans, but weigh-up the options.

Maybe a figure-of-eight walk round the two lochs with

two groups going round in opposite directions.

Get up, put the kettle on, naturellement, and then go

to the “drying” room to get my stuff. Open the door

and am almost overwhelmed by the hot stinking

odour of damp cagoules, overtrousers, woollen hats,

gloves, boots stuffed with newspapers. I somehow

retrieve my stuff, resisting the urge to gag.

Breakfast. A dreary, silent affair. The kids obviously

want to be somewhere else. So do I, to tell the truth.

“Do we have to go out today?” “Yes,” I reply. “Why?”

comes back the answer, with the forensic precision

of a future QC. I stumble for an answer and then say,

“Because we have to. It’s good for the character.” Did I

actually say that? Send the kids off to kit up. Just one

thing to do before we leave – foot inspection for the

walking wounded. Two bad cases of blisters from

the day before.

The first one, no problem, more plasters and then

a bandage. The second one, oh dear. Poor Fiona

developed a massive blister along the outside of her

right foot. Last night it had the size and consistency

of a slug. Expert opinion amongst the staff was divided.

To lance or not to lance? Perhaps it will subside during

the night, we hope. But no such luck. The poor girl

can hardly get her boot on. So the medical experts say:

“OK we’ve got to drain it.” Preparations are made –

plasters, bandages, a needle sterilised by the gas ring.

And then the incision. As soon as the surface of the

slug-blister is pierced, a high pressure jet of clearish

liquid comes gushing forth. I will spare you the further

details. Within minutes the slug is reduced to flappy

skin, and, yes Fiona is smiling, even daring to peep

through her fingers. We dress the wound, bind it up

nice and tight, ensure that Fiona has clean socks –

a rare commodity in the group on the tenth day of

Projects – and after a few cautious steps she manages

to walk for the rest of the day. Not sure what a

professional medic would have done.


Perhaps the best person to ask would be Fiona herself,

who is now a doctor.

Off we go in the two minibuses, everyone hunched up,

not looking out of the windows (steamed up) at the view

(what view?). The smell of sweaty, damp outdoor gear

is overpowering, so it is a relief to get out of the buses,

even with a gale blowing. We decide to stay together as

a group and not split into two – what would happen if

one group got lost, I thought.

Off we trudge, a long trail of orange anoraks following

the path, the folk at the back scarcely able to see those

at the front. Remember we used to have 24 in each

group! There’s not much chat, just squelch, squelch,

squelch along the way we go. Where the two lochs

meet head on, there is a substantial stone bridge,

and we all manage to squeeze in underneath, beside

the raging burn, but out of the direct wind and rain.

We extract our lunches, mostly sodden fish-paste

sandwiches and an apple, and even begin some chat,

a few jokes, then folk are beginning to get cold, start

shivering, so off we go, round the second half of the

figure of eight, now on a broader land-rover track.

Look, there’s even a break in the cloud, a glimpse of

a distant hill, but it doesn’t last for long. Some kids

even start singing old girl guide songs and the rest

of us join in. We are like soldiers trudging up to

the trenches in Ypres. Our boots are soaked, our

waterproofs have given up the struggle, but there in

the mist, the comforting shapes of the minibuses.

We pile in, the temperature rises, the windows fog up,

and morale rises. We play a game to see who will get

first dibs for the shower, and then back in the entrance

hall of the hostel we peel off our sodden layers. Most

of the kids just leave their waterproofs where they take

them off so I have to call them back and get them to

hang them up in the drying room. The duty group makes

a cup of tea for everyone and then get going on dinner

– 10th day of Projects – corned beef hash. An hour later,

everyone, showered, refreshed, is at the table, so hungry

that even the corned beef tastes good. I speak to my

inquisitor of the morning: Well, was that good for your

character? I shrink under his withering stare!

We sit around, play cards, reminisce, hope for better

weather. Yes, it was a horrible day on Projects.

But do you know, it was also a good day on Projects.

We got through it and we’re smiling, even Fiona with

the pink and raw remains of the slug!


A Perfect Day on Projects

This is a perfect Project day. I have had all of these

experiences, but not necessarily all on the same day,

as Eric Morecombe might have said. Some names

have been changed to protect the innocent, others

have been kept to indict the guilty.

Six o’clock, sun in my eyes, time to get up. I am in a

single room in the Youth Hostel – the other two chaps on

the staff have to share, but I got the privilege of a single

room, actually a store cupboard, because I snore! There

is an overwhelming smell of disinfectant and Dettol in

my room, but it’s better than the sweaty sock smell in

my colleagues’ room!

Get up, stretch, a bit of stiffness after the long walk

yesterday, but feeling good. I look out, blue sky, sun

clearing the mountain tops and lighting up the loch. Go

down to the kitchen, no one about, make myself a cup

of tea and then go out and sit on a boulder – too much

dew on the grass.

Spot two figures running along the lochside road

towards the hostel. Wait a minute, they’re two of our

chaps, out for an early morning run. They flop sweatily

next to me, and I offer to bring them a cup of tea as a

reward for their efforts. We chat, and I point out the hill

that I’m aiming to climb that day. Both boys are rugby

lads, and good runners, but strangely enough they find

the climbing difficult.

miles up the glen. Out of the buses. I tell them we’ll

take the path, cross the burn at the wooden bridge

and then start climbing.

Quite a lot of chat to start with. I’ve got one of the

colleagues at the head of the file, and I bring up the rear

– my usual position on Projects. I hang back and see this

chattering, bubbling bunch of kids drawing away, and

watch the procession against the background of the big

hills, thinking how lucky we are. About twenty minutes

in, the group stop, take a drink and peel off a layer or

two of clothing.

Then we set off again, more serious, not so much chat as

the path becomes steeper. This is the moment when we

develop a rhythm, head down, plod on. At about 11.30

we stop for our first lunch, or elevenses. However big

breakfast was, the kids are always ravenous about this

time so they eat their first sandwiches.

Then onwards and upwards. We look down into the

glen, where the minibuses are, impossibly small. Feels

good to have gained that height.

The next section is a bit tricky, the ridge narrows and

there’s some scrambling. A couple of kids are a little

unsure, but we help them through. After this local

difficulty we set off along the next section where the

ridge broadens and the views open out, A spectacular

Corrie to the left, with dark cliffs and sparkling water in

the lochan. Over to the south you can glimpse the sea

loch, and the islands beyond.

Time to wake the troops, get the duty group up to

make breakfast. Eventually everyone gets down to the

kitchen but just as we’re about to tidy up and make our

packed lunches, someone says: Has anyone seen Nick

today? No, where is he? I send someone up to the dorm.

Nick is there, head under the duvet, fast asleep. A rude

awakening, but he manages to get breakfast and his

packed lunch in record time.

Everyone is now ready – they know the form and

have their day-sacks ready, boots on. I do a check –

everyone got their emergency clothing? Shorts and

suncream? Not words you usually associate with

Projects. I tell the group what the plans are for the day.

Pile into the minibuses. Not far to go, just four or five

One false summit after the other. How far is it, Mr S?

Not far, I say. Then finally, there we are, on top of a

broad grassy ridge, with the summit cairn about 200

meters away. The pace quickens, but I stop the group.

There’s the summit, I say. Off you go, sprint, jog, or walk.

And just as they set off, I say “please don’t go higher

than the summit”. But no one gets my joke. Where do

they get their energy from? Almost all of them tear off

towards the summit, even one of my young, fit, and

still competitive colleagues, who much to everyone’s

disgust, arrives first. I arrive last.

The usual photos, the group on the cairn, views all

round and then lunch. Everyone sits, there’s a slight

breeze so I tell them to put on an extra layer or two.

Any blisters, I ask. No, they say. Can we take our boots


off, ask some. Yeah, sure. Some lie back and drowse off,

others chat, one or two jump from boulder to boulder.

They have too much energy to burn. I check the horizon,

no clouds. We’ll be OK.

Then after about three-quarters of an hour, we saddle

up and head down, following the same route. There is

much laughter and light-heartedness, bad jokes, a feeling

of fun and good fellowship. The young ones jump down

springingly from rock to rock, I have to rely on walking

poles to take the strain off ageing joints. We are moving

fast and getting quite sweaty.

the hostel, just a couple of hundred feet, to watch the sun

set over the loch.

Back down to the hostel in the gathering dusk – the

midgies are out, so we seek refuge inside. Time for a

last cup of cocoa, and I tell them a ghost story. Of course

it’s true, I tell them, otherwise I wouldn’t tell it to you.

Everyone off to bed. Too tired to be noisy. Yet myself and

the colleagues sit out in the corridors until they have

settled. Then it’s a shower, off to bed for me, back to my

broom cupboard smelling of industrial disinfectant.

By mid afternoon, we are down by the road and we

take the time to stop by the burn for some paddling

and splashing, throwing in boulders, skimming stones,

building dams. Poor old Mhairi, she slips on a rock

and falls backwards into a pool. Much laughter from

everybody, including, eventually, Mhairi. So that’s a sign

to head back to the hostel. We draw into the carpark

and there’s the usual rush for the showers. Mhairi gets

priority. We all agree.

The sun is still high, blazing down. Time for a cup of tea,

glass of juice and a slice of homemade cake. (God I could

murder a beer!). There’s an hour before the duty group

have to start preparing dinner, so some down time. I take

a book and lie out on the grass. A bit of chat with the kids.

A feeling of deep contentment. I doze off. No book.

Post script

I taught at Watson’s for 25 years and took part in Projects

about twenty times. I realise that there are those in the

School who have a significantly higher participation rate.

My summer terms were often taken up with language

exchanges too (for me to Thonon, the Ile-de Ré, Pessac,

Paris and Munich). Very often I would return from

Projects, have a quick turn-around, and then go off on

exchanges. There is a very exclusive club amongst the

pupils – those who went to Harris on S3 Projects and then

Paris the following year in S4 – the Harris and Paris Club.

It’s not my group on duty tonight, so my principal worry

is getting my feet under the table in time for dinner.

Everyone excited, pink, comparing tans. Luckily they’ve

all showered and put on cream. Spaghetti Bolognese

(yum)and Angels’ Delight (yuk). Then after dinner,

people can do what they want. Board games, cards,

writing up logbooks, chatting, joking. Some play football

in the field next to the hostel. Then supper at 9.30 and

afterwards a small group climb up the hill at the back of

The Rod Slater S3 Projects Fund

Established by the Slater Family in August 2020,

this fund provides a way for Rod’s family, former

colleagues and many friends to celebrate and

mark their connection with him. For some, that

will have been a lifetime of friendship, for others

a fleeting association.

This is being written in June 2020 during lockdown, the

closing off of opportunities for our young people. Let us

hope that very quickly, all of our pupils will be able to

make the most of the wonderful opportunities for travel

and study that Watson’s has always offered.

Rod Slater

The Fund will provide financial bursaries of between

£100-£250 to ensure that every pupil participating

in their S3 Projects trip has all the essential kit

requirements. If you would like to read more about the

Fund, or make a donation, you can do so online here

gwc.org.uk/rodslaterbursaryfund, or by contacting

the Development Office.


150th Anniversary of the fo

of George Watson’s Ladies

2021: A Year of Celebrations

Our plans to mark the 150th

Anniversary of the founding of

George Watson’s Ladies’ College

(GWLC) are now well advanced and

throughout 2021 we will gather

together to celebrate the role that

this very special institution played

in the education of girls and young

women in Scotland.

Established in Edinburgh’s George

Square in 1871, the School remained

on this original site for more than

100 years, with additional buildings

acquired in the Square itself and also

at St Alban’s Road. To this day, many

women Watsonians hold with great

affection their time at both St Alban’s

Road and George Square, fondly

referring to themselves as the

‘George Square Girls’.

The School is working with the

Watsonian Club to curate this special

year of celebrations which will involve

not only those former pupils and

staff to whom the Ladies’ College

means so much, but also our

current pupils and staff as we seek

to acknowledge the part the School

played in the advancement of

women throughout the tumultuous

century of its existence.

As part of the commemorative year we

are encouraging former GWLC pupils

to help us with a number of projects

that will form a lasting legacy to the

institution. At present, the School’s

Historic Archives and Collections hold

very little material relating to George

Square or St Alban’s Road and it is our

hope that by the end of 2021 we will

have both rectified that situation and

made many of our resources much

more accessible.

We are actively seeking photographs,

school work, personal letters or

diaries, artwork and objects that

relate to the Ladies’ College, which

you would be willing to share with

us to be either added to the

permanent School collection or on

a temporary loan for 2021. If you

have something that you think might

be of interest, then please email

our Archive Officer, Tom Bennett,

at t.bennett@gwc.org.uk.

Our interest in your own personal

stories stretches far beyond the

physical items you have treasured

and kept. We are particularly

interested in hearing stories and

memories first hand, good or

bad, big or small. The University

of Edinburgh is supporting us to

record the oral history of GWLC, with

current pupils discussing the school

experiences of former pupils. It is of

great importance that we record this

unique aspect of Edinburgh’s social

history and we feel 2021 provides a

fitting moment to look back. If you

have a story to share then please

email our Heritage Officer, Catherine

Stratford, at c.stratford@gwc.org.uk.

In 1921, Headmistress Charlotte

Ainslie commissioned a School

Banner to mark the 50th Anniversary

of the founding of the Ladies’

College. It was a significant

undertaking and took more than

four years to complete. This banner,

although its colours may not be so

vibrant today, has hung for many

years outside the Senior School

Assembly Hall at Colinton Road.

Inspired by this beautiful work we

have commissioned Edinburgh artist

Andrew Crummy, who previously

designed the Great Tapestry of

Scotland, to create a GWLC 150

tapestry, which will record the

history and stories of the School.

Andrew is delighted to be working

with us and looks forward to

hearing our stories which will be

immortalised in stitch. We will invite

all current and former pupils to

join us in placing a stitch in the new

commemorative piece, allowing the

threads to literally and figuratively

bind us all together in 2021.



’ College

Anniversary Events in 2021

Friday 5 February - Founder’s Day and Installation of the new Watsonian President.

To officially launch our celebratory year, we are delighted to announce that Dame Mariot Leslie, former Diplomat,

will be our guest speaker for this annual event, which will also see Gillian Sandilands (Class of 1978) installed as

President of the Watsonian Club.

Saturday 19 June - The Principal and Watsonian President’s Summer Celebration

School Principal, Melvyn Roffe, and Watsonian President, Gillian Sandilands, will host a celebratory afternoon of

events at Colinton Road. Guests will have an opportunity to be taken on a tour of the campus by current pupils,

enjoy a specially curated exhibition based on the history of GWLC, as well as enjoying an afternoon tea and

musical performances in a marquee on the front lawn.

Sunday 20 June - Exhibition at George Square and Service at Greyfriars Kirk

With kind permission of The University of Edinburgh, guests will have an opportunity to tour George Square,

reminisce and relax with friends.

The culmination of the Anniversary weekend will see a congregation of former pupils gather to give thanks for the

founding of George Watson’s Ladies’ College in the Greyfriars Kirk, which will be so familiar to those who attended

George Square.

Saturday 13 November - Gala Ceilidh

To close the year of celebrations, the Senior School Assembly Hall, at Colinton Road, will play host to a rousing

Gala Dinner and Ceilidh.

2022 - A Celebration of George Square Music

Postponed from spring 2021, the concert will be a celebration of the music for which George Watson’s Ladies’

College was so renowned. This concert will also include a specially commissioned recording of the School Hymn.

We will announce further events ahead of 2021 and more information on ticket prices and how to book for

these events will be shared before the end of the year.




The horror of the fire that engulfed the upper floors of Myreside Pavilion on a grey February morning was felt

by Watsonians around the world. Those who found themselves nearby, as the fire service worked to bring the

blaze under control, watched in disbelief as flames burst through the roof and the scale of the disaster at hand

became apparent. Photos were shared across social media and messages of concern came from former pupils

to whom Myreside remains such a special place, despite the years and miles that lie between them and their

former school.

Inspired by many of these messages of concern and

the stories that were shared, our Heritage Officer,

Catherine Stratford, has looked back at this most

unusual of Watson’s buildings.

Sport came to the vicinity of the George Watson’s

College site at Colinton Road long before the School

itself moved there in 1932. In the early 1870s, boys

played cricket on Bainfield, an area near which is now

Harrison Park, even though it was far from ideal as

a sports venue. The field remained in use as cattle

pasture and the pitch featured an ancient gnarled oak

tree. It could be argued that this oak was the School’s

first pavilion as players sat under (and in) its branches

waiting to play. Sometime later a shed was erected on

Bainfield, but this was demolished by local youths who

used the timber to light a bonfire.

In 1878, school sport moved from the inadequacies

of Bainfield to ‘Old Myreside’, an area stretching

from Colinton Road to what is now the boundary of

Merchiston Gardens and the Upper Primary School.

An ornate brick pavilion with wooden shutters and

two small dressing rooms was built where the South

Gillsland Road gate now stands. The boys raised £22 10s

(the equivalent of over £2,600 today) towards its fixtures

and fittings.

Despite the indifference of the then Headmaster,

George Ogilvie, this period saw a significant growth

in interest in sport at the School and amongst its

former pupils. The Watson’s College Athletic Club was

established to coordinate all School and Watsonian

sport and within 10 years it had become obvious that

Old Myreside was now too small. Intense negotiations


with the Merchant Company led to the acquisition

of land to the west of Myreside Road (then called

Craighouse Road), to be known as ‘New Myreside’. After

heated debate about how grand, or otherwise, a new

pavilion should be, a budget of £4,325 was set and on

Saturday, 1 May 1897 the current Myreside Pavilion was

officially opened by Mrs Robertson, wife of the then

Master of the Merchant Company.

Although most would mainly associate Myreside with

rugby and cricket, other sports have also prospered

there. In fact, it was demand for lawn tennis courts that

was the original reason that the Athletic Club asked

the Merchant Company for more grounds. In 1898,

the Groundsman, Andrew Scott, laid a curling rink

at Myreside. This became the venue for the first ever

international curling match involving a Scottish team

when Watsonians played a team of visiting Canadians

in 1903. Squash courts were added on the site beside

the Pavilion and opened in 1935.

Before the renovations of the 1960s, entry into the

Pavilion was through a central door at the top of

the steps from the cricket field. The home dressing

rooms were on the right and the away dressing

rooms on the left. With no central heating, a roaring

fire was often a welcome sight in the hearth, lit and

tended by the resident cricket professional and Head

Groundsman, Bert Marshall, who lived in a flat at

the top of the Pavilion. It was a place for friendship.

As Dennis Carmichael, a Former President of the

Watsonian Club (1982-83), puts it, ‘You went back to

Myreside to find your pals.’

The upstairs bar was then strictly for men only, whilst

the current downstairs function room was a tea

room with a wooden floor and trestle tables. Here a

formidable team of ladies led by Mrs Henderson and,

from the early 1960s, by Mrs Thelma Smith prepared and

served the most famous cricket teas on the circuit. Each

tea comprised five sets of sandwiches, (cucumber, meat

paté or Spam, tomato and cheese, egg, and ham salad)

made from fourteen loaves of Sunblest white bread.

Cakes, gingerbread, fruit loaves and homemade biscuits

were served alongside. On special occasions meringues,

eclairs and pink iced buns were added to the menu.

Improvements completed in 1969 provided a fully

glazed veranda and an extended lounge and bar where

the upstairs longroom had been. The Pavilion thus

became an even better place for Watsonians to celebrate

birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other significant

family events. There are happy memories of parents in

the upstairs bar dropping packets of crisps down to their

children as they played outside.


A new bungalow for the Head Groundsman meant

that his former flat could be converted to become an

office from which the Watsonian Club was run before

the establishment of the Development Office in 1997.

Watsonians from all over the world considered Myreside

as their spiritual home. Donald Scott, former Head of

PE (1952-1989), remembers often being asked by former

pupils during his time as President of the Watsonian Club

(1997-1998), ‘How is the School and the staff?’ rapidly

followed by the question ‘…and how is Myreside?’

Myreside has grown from Watson’s and Watsonians’

love of sport, but rather than a desire to win at all

costs, it has always been about participation, friendship,

and the hospitality for which the Myreside Pavilion

is famous.

As Hector Waugh wrote in the 1970 ‘George Watson’s

College. History and Record’ ‘Watsonians like to

win, but to lose is no great disaster and this is as

it should be.’


Reimagining the Future

of Myreside Pavilion

The fire - though devastating - provided an opportunity

for the School to reach out to former pupils, staff,

parents and the Watsonian Club and Sections to find out

what their vision for the future of the Pavilion would be.

A chance to think about what changes could be made to

enhance the facilities and bring it back to life as a hub

for the School community during the day, while still

retaining its important role as a home for sport and our

Watsonian Sections after the school day ends.

Much of the Pavilion’s past will be recreated as part

of the vision for its future. Mrs Henderson’s tea room

will open its doors again, but with a modern 21st

century twist, a new focal point will be created - a

place for Watsonians to meet friends, or drop in to

see the Development Office team; a place for parents,

senior pupils and staff to relax and enjoy each other’s

company. A place for our neighbours, community

partners and friends to drop by and find out who we are.

An accessible building for all. And, as it has always been,

a place for Watsonian Club and Section members and

spectators to regale over matches won, and sometimes

matches lost.

The Development Office is launching a fundraising

campaign to raise £350,000 to reimagine the Pavilion

and return it to the heart of our community. If you

would be interested in hearing more about the plans

or how you can help us achieve our fundraising

goal, please contact the Development Office at



Being True

Former Head Boy, Gregor

Firth (Millar) (Class of 2002)

is a screen and stage actor,

whose love and passion for

drama goes back as far as he

can remember. Caritas, posed

questions to Gregor about his

memories of Watson’s and his

career highlights - so far.

What are the memories that

particularly stand out for you from

your time at Colinton Road?

Hand on heart, my strongest

memories are that of friendship.

School can be a daunting experience

for anyone, no matter where

you fit in socially, so having a

strong friend base can completely

transform something awkward and

unenjoyable into something you’ll

cherish for the rest of your life.

Although it’s now over 18 years

since we left school, and despite

my former classmates being

scattered across the globe, I still

consider them as some of my best

and closest friends. In fact, I’d say

we’re as close as ever.

When you were at school, did you

have a career as an actor in mind;

and did that influence your

subject choices?

Yes, very much so! There were three

obvious choices for me, Drama,

Music and English. I also opted to

take History and Physics. Choosing

Drama, English and Music as a

trio allowed me not only to express

myself, but more importantly, to

begin honing the skills I knew I

was going to need for my preferred

career. It was a tough decision

to separate my enjoyment for

Drama and Music as both

recognise different aspects of

the arts, and yet both work

amazingly well together.

I can imagine you must have felt

very ‘at home’ in Drama and Music,

as so many current pupils still

do today. Did you find that your

teachers encouraged you to follow

your chosen career path?

Absolutely. Mrs Denyer, who

ended up as my guidance teacher,

hugely influenced and supported

the choices I made. My career

had already started while at GWC,

and where subjects really weren’t

working for me, I was told to focus

on the ones where my strengths lay.

Mr Hughes was also championing

my decisions. A straight to the

point man, there was no mincing

of words. He was heavily involved

in the School plays and musicals

and again, could see that the Arts

industry was the place I wanted

to be. It was always so refreshing

to hear his very frank and honest

advice - another great memory

from my school days.

Would you say that you picked

your career, or did it pick you?

It is most definitely a career that has

chosen me. I grew up as a farmer’s

son from East Lothian and was set to

follow in my father’s footsteps, but it

was clear - early on - that with such

a vivid imagination and a penchant

for singing (NOT DANCING) and

generally being quite an extrovert,

farming was not going to be the path

I would follow.

Once you realised acting had

chosen you, did you waver from

the path and consider other

career options?

It’s always been my main focus and

I can say that with a lot of pride.

Other options did come into play, at

points, but were quickly discarded.

It’s always been, and will always be,

the one true job I was destined to

do. I do know a lot of people who

have chosen other paths, that say

I’m lucky in what I do. I just smile

and say “I absolutely love my job”.

It’s as simple as that! I love what I do

and I love the industry.

I suspect that many young actors

can face a difficult time getting

their first break, did you find that

the path to your first professional

role was a bumpy one?

Yes and No. It was a long path

but not too bumpy - thankfully!

I started performing from a young

age. Whether it was singing along


to Yourself.

to songs in my bedroom, attending

Summer Schools, local Edinburgh

Youth Theatre, or the Edinburgh

Acting School, opportunities

began to arise quite quickly. All

these elements, even something

as simple as playing dress up at

home, helped forge a way forward

for me. Then there was attending

drama school which teaches

technique and the fundamentals

needed to work. And from there,

learning on the job.

You’ve had lots of opportunities

to learn on the job in recent

years, your appearances on stage

and screen have been plentiful.

Is there a role that you have

particularly enjoyed?

That’s a tough question. Again,

I’ve had amazing opportunities

in theatre, TV and film and each

comes with a very different

sense of satisfaction. For theatre,

definitely playing Robert in

the Glasgow revival of Stephen

Sondheim’s Company, which

was not only an incredible

challenge to sing, but also a

character I could really invest time

in. On television, I’d be remiss if

I didn’t mention STV’s Taggart,

but without a doubt, my most

prominent role to date is playing

Kinkade in Season 2 of Outlander.

My latest film project is Only You

which is currently available

on Netflix.

I am sure you get asked this all the

time, but is there an actor you really

admire and who inspires you?

Ooohh, that’s probably the most

difficult question an actor can be

asked. There are literally hundreds

of actors I admire, for different

reasons. Some are theatre actors,

some film, most undoubtedly both,

but have all honed their craft to

such a level that just watching them

is a joy. I’ve seen shows with a said

actor in it, and the show as a whole

can be disappointing, but if you can

put that to one side, just watching

the actor effortlessly demonstrate

unbelievable skill is a treat in itself. I

guess that’s a long way of saying it’s

too difficult to pick one!

Do you find that you can learn

a lot from the seasoned actors

that you have been lucky enough

to act alongside?

A lot of lessons have to be learnt

whilst working, but the most

important is understanding the

industry, the way it functions and

the etiquette that comes with

it. I suppose that is true of any

profession. There are different rules

for theatre, for television and even

more so in film. When you’re on set

with over 150 people, knowing who

to talk to, how to talk to them, when

to ask questions and when you take

the initiative. It can be quite strict

depending on the circumstance,

but it really is the number one rule.

Learn it well and learn it quickly

if you want to succeed!

Looking back, what would you

say that your time at Watson’s

taught you?

In a nutshell, GWC taught me to

be an individual, to strive for the

very best and to try and achieve as

much as I could. Supporting and

being kind to others around you

and most importantly, in the words

of the great Aretha Franklin, have

“R.E.S.P.E.C.T” for yourself and

everyone else. And, obviously, Love

From The Heart. Simple.

Do you have any last words of

advice for pupils who might be

struggling to make a decision

about their future plans?

Given my experience, I suppose

my advice would be to decide

exactly what you want to do and

how you want to go about doing

it. Study, study, study. Learn about

practitioners and their methods.

Read and watch plays and films.

Absorb everything and anything.

Don’t be afraid to take as many

chances as you can, and don’t ever

think you’re going to look stupid,

because 99.9% of the time, you’re

only being true to yourself. And,

most importantly, don’t let rejection

deter you. Take it, build on it, learn

from it, and move on. Follow your

head and your heart and strive to

be the best you can be.


This Scene Takes

Place at Night!

With this year’s school production of Les Misérables

cancelled, we were pleased to have Amanda Aiken

(Class of 2007) take us behind the scenes of some

of Watson’s most memorable performances.

It is impossible to talk about the Sound and Lighting

Crew without mentioning the lab coat-clad Mr Tavener

who lived in the AV room under the lecture theatre.

At the introductory meeting, arms folded, he expounded

the importance of dedication and hard work for anyone

selected. Our doubts of his sincerity were soon dispelled

when two more pupils entered the room. ‘Why are you

late?’ Mr Tavener raged. Their rather feeble answer of

‘Lunch’ did not impress. He made them leave, banning

them from the crew forever.

Sound and Lighting involved a huge amount of

technical understanding. I still use many of the skills

I was taught then, in my work today. At first there

were many lengthy explanations of sound boards

and different kinds of lights, and I learnt a lot watching

others and by completing simple tasks like setting up

mics. Though Mr Tavener was demanding, he taught

us well and always got the best from us.

It was the summer production of 2005, Grease,

which was my first introduction to a full scale

performance. To my delight I was able to miss

certain classes (sorry, Mrs Pringle) in order to prepare

for the show. I operated one of the followspots

with Claire, a crew member from my year. Though

these lights were only a small part of it I learnt a lot

about teamwork – and that followspots become very,

very hot. I still have a small scar on my arm from

accidentally brushing against one.

Not every aspect of sound and lighting was entertaining.

I remember I once manned the sound desk for Model

United Nations, possibly the dullest thing I’ve ever

volunteered to do. It was briefly livened up by pupils

who, being perhaps as bored as me, declared war on

another country before being threatened with ejection

from the session!

I made, and learned from, my many mistakes while in

the crew. A highlight of my low points remains the time

I left the Principal’s microphone on during a hymn in

assembly. Thankfully, the nature of the crew was to

fix it, laugh about it, and move on. Even Mr Tavener

was forgiving when I cut up an entire roll of (extremely

expensive) lighting gel only to discover we’d been sent

the wrong colour.

For Les Misérables (2006) the already-challenging job

of managing ten radio mics was coupled with the hiring

of twice as many, along with a gigantic sound board.

Our usual board was operated manually, with each mic

raised individually. The trick was to do so at exactly the

right time; too early and they caught people chatting

backstage (yes, we could hear you); too late and the first

words were missed. With this new board all the mics

could be automatically raised by pressing one button.

Of course, I was still able to make mistakes by mashing

the button at the wrong time, causing chaos. Then I

frantically helped Elspeth, a crew member in the year

above, and Paul, the assistant AV technician at the time,

pull all the sliders back down.


Occasionally, I was able to rescue others. During

a performance of Twelfth Night the lights stopped

working. While the actors waited in darkness the

Director, Mr Kettley, cheerfully cried out ‘This scene

takes place at night!’ As we squirmed, it came to me –

somehow the lighting board had been switched from

‘Memory’, which stored the groups of lights for scenes,

to ‘Channel’, which only brought up individual lights.

One swift key-punch later, and there was light!

at Watson’s – writing, drawing, acting, understanding

of movement, programming, storytelling in light and

sound – proved vital to my career development and

I am now a storyboard artist and animator.

I didn’t have a solid idea of a career I could pursue until

the latter half of my time at Watson’s. During my Bronze

Duke of Edinburgh Award I made a short film with

some friends, and from that point onwards I explored

becoming a filmmaker.

At university I studied live action filmmaking, but

afterwards I struggled to see a way forward in film.

While working in a bookshop and considering my

options, I looked back at what I’d particularly enjoyed

at school. My subject choice through the years had

been fairly eclectic, from Art, Drama, and English to

Technology, Physics and Computing. Extracurricular

groups like Sound and Lighting were also a hugely

important part of my schooling.

As I took up drawing again and wrote more, I learnt more

about animation. I discovered that animation combined

technical and artistic understanding with a thorough

dose of storytelling. The things I had begun to learn

I have since spent a year studying animation in

Vancouver, completed a short animation course at

Aardman Animations in Bristol, had mentorship in

storyboarding from Sony Pictures Animation, freelanced

on multiple productions from commercials and TV

to features, and worked as a clean up artist on the

Oscar-nominated Klaus. The film was a real joy to be a

part of. Working on it was challenging but thoroughly

rewarding, very much like my memories of being part

of the Sound and Lighting Crew at GWC.



The things people keep…

Sir James Haldane Stewart

Lockhart (Class of 1874) had

been a clever boy. He was Dux of

George Watson’s Boys’ College in

1873. He had been a sporty chap

too; Captain of both the 1st XI

Cricket and 1st XV Rugby teams.

After leaving school he spent a

couple of years at The University

of Edinburgh before, on his second

attempt, passing the examination

to join the Colonial Civil Service.

He spent the first 23 years of his

career in Hong Kong, settling himself

amongst the ex-pat community of

the colony. On Friday 12 February

1886, at a meeting arranged by

Stewart Lockhart at the Victoria

Recreation Club, the Hong Kong

Football Club was established. He

1. Exhibit A

rose to become Registrar General

and Colonial Secretary. However,

Stewart Lockhart never got his

‘dream job’, Governor of Hong Kong,

despite several applications. Some

say it was because he had irritated

too many of his superiors; others

that he always seemed to side with

the Chinese and not the British;

and some that he was just ‘a bit

too Chinese’.

It was thanks to Stewart Lockhart’s

seeming inability to throw anything

away that led to his lasting legacy.

In fact, he collected paintings,

rubbings, artefacts, posters,

coins and letters. In the 1960s, his

daughter, Mary, gave her father’s

collection to Watson’s and for a

number of years it was kept at the

School. The then Head of Art, Mike

Gill, and his wife, Shiona Airlie,

encouraged generations of Watson’s

pupils to take an interest in these

treasures. This valuable and unique

collection is now cared for, on behalf

of the School, by curators at the

National Museum of Scotland, the

National Library of Scotland and the

Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Last year, a group of current pupils

researched and presented some of

the items from the Stewart Lockhart

Collection. The reaction of the

two boys opening the box, that

contained the following items,

was that of delight, excitement

and mild horror.

Iron Spike, part of a sheng pien found near the

body at Yao Tai Kon on the night of January 1916.

The spike was wrapped in a copy of the English

language newspaper The Manchuria Daily News of

27 November 1920.

Stewart Lockhart and his wife, Edith, spent the

months before they left Weihaiwei ‘packing cases

and trunks [with his collections] to the virtual

exclusion of all else.’

You can imagine the pile of newspaper and

packing boxes, strewn all over Government House!


2. Exhibit B

Herewith revolver bullet

removed from man’s

thigh. The man was shot

by a robber fifty li [about

one third of a mile]

from here.

Yours truly


3. Exhibit C

Herewith the bullet

removed from the man

shot by pirates on the


A wad was removed at

the same time. The bullet

looks to have come from

a Winchester repeater.

The bullet entered in the

middle of the left groin

and exited from the right


In 1902, Stewart Lockhart was

appointed to be Commissioner of

Weihaiwei, a tiny British controlled

enclave in the Shandong province in

north east China. He was to remain

there until his retirement in 1921.

His annual reports to the Principal

Secretary of State for the Colonies

catalogued the wide range of his

responsibilities, from education to

policing, from lighthouses to getting

opium addicts clean. Over 150,000

people lived in the enclave which

Stewart Lockhart had divided into

two divisions, north and south, with

a magistrate based in each. Reginald

Johnston was in charge of the

southern area. Johnston

and Stewart Lockhart were great

friends and Johnston was to go

on to become the tutor to Pu Yi,

the last Qing Emperor of China,

whose story was the subject of

Bernardo Bertolucci’s multi Oscar

winning film The Last Emperor.

Whether Stewart Lockhart acted

as the ultimate magistrate and that

is why he has notes addressed to

him, accompanying a variety of

bullets and spikes, we are

not certain.

W.M. Muat was the Senior Medical

Officer in Weihaiwei. Another Scot,

a graduate of the University of

Glasgow, Dr Muat was to be awarded

the CBE in 1923.

Why Stewart Lockhart was to keep

these items, some of which were

exhibited in trials held in Weihaiwei,

we do not know. Perhaps because,

just like current pupils from his old

school, he was intrigued and mildly

revolted by Dr Muat’s descriptions?

Catherine Stratford

Heritage Officer




With S3 Projects cancelled for the first time in more than 50 years, we missed

hearing the wonderful stories that return with pupils and staff at the end of

May. Thankfully, Head of Biology, Geoff Morgan, was able to share some of

his experiences from years gone by.

One of the less well-known impacts of the pandemic

was the lost opportunity for our S3 pupils to get

up close and personal with the fantastic wildlife of

Scotland while away on Projects. Mid-May is a prime

month for experiencing wildlife in Scotland, and

having visited many different parts of the country

on various S3 Projects over the last 20-plus years I

am one of those lucky enough to have witnessed a

lot of exciting encounters. Here are just a few of my


On the very first day of my very first Project, as

I arrived in Mull, I discovered an American surf

scoter swimming off Craignure. As a genuine rarity

on this side of the Atlantic, this bird species was a

very unlikely tick to kick-off my 'S3 Projects wildlife

list'. Being the new teacher joining a project group,

half-way through the trip, and being a nerdy birder

to-boot, I wasn't sure that peering at an obscurely

plumaged and distant duck was the ice-breaker

activity that I had been urged to prepare, so I let the

moment pass. As the week progressed, sightings of

eagles and deer whetted the appetite of the group,

so we headed out on a trip to Isle of Lunga to spend a

day relaxing among the portly puffins and flowering

thrift. For me, the highlight of that whole trip was

seeing the excitement in the faces of the pupils

stretched out on the cliff-top among the birds. More

than one pupil found themselves being tickled by a

puffin as it emerged from a tunnel that the pupil was

inadvertently blocking. Since then, I've tried to build

puffin moments into as many projects as possible.

The trip to Lunga seemed to really engage the pupils

in the wonders of birdwatching, so on the last day of

that trip I suggested a quick expedition to see the surf

scoter as we headed back to the mainland. The speed

with which the pupils departed in the direction of the

ferry and its bacon rolls was the first of many lessons

for me about which wildlife species S3 pupils will

tolerate and which ones just don't make the grade.

For most pupils, it is the closeness of the encounter,

rather than the rarity of the species, that counts, so a

frog in the hand trumps a soaring eagle. Occasionally,

a sighting meets both of these criteria, such as a

caspian stonechat fluttering about a roadside ditch in

Fair Isle – a mega in a mecca for rare migrant birds. It

is possibly not entirely coincidental that I have visited

Fair Isle several times on S3 Projects.

Many Projects days involve hill walking, and as a

result pupils and staff have had close encounters

with a range of mountain flora and fauna. Colleagues

often catch me in the corridor in June to mention


From top left:

The Cliffs of Noss in the Shetland

Islands, Bearded Seal, Storm

Petrel, Puffin and a Bonxie

the adder, capercaillie or wild cat that they stumbled

upon on the side of a Munro. On more than one occasion

I have been fortunate enough to stumble upon a

beautifully tame and camouflaged ptarmigan on its

nest. I'd like to pretend that my field skills allowed me

to point it out to the pupils, but on both occasions a

pupil pointed the hen out to me just after I'd put my

foot only inches away from it without noticing. Another

iconically beautiful and confiding montane species is

the dotterel, but it is only once that I've been treated

to their presence on Projects. My memory is that after

a wind-whipped ascent that was an assault to the

senses, the birds were running around at our feet in

an eerily-silent mist-filled pocket of wet air on the

shoulder of Ben Macdui. With many of these mountain

species, a close encounter leaves a sense of wonder that

such apparently delicate animals can survive such a

challenging environment.

The coasts of Scotland offer an abundance and

excitement of wildlife that is definitely world class. One

memorable morning involved starting off with watching

a vagrant bearded seal lounging nonchalantly in Lerwick

harbour and then taking a boat tour of Cliffs of Noss

to hand feed bonxies and gannets. A few days later we

spent the evening a few miles south on the island of

Mousa exploring the world's best preserved broch whilst

being treated to the nocturnal love songs of the storm

petrel – this ancient monument is also the UK's largest

colony of this rarely seen seabird. It really is a tough life

when this counts as work!

My hope is that others on Projects return with at least

some of the enthusiasm that I have for our wildlife. I

know that it does not always rub off but sometimes

the excitement is infectious. A few years' ago I glanced

out of the window of our hostel at Birsay on Orkney.

By glanced I actually mean stared intently through

binoculars. There in the sea at the Brough of Birsay

a mile-and-a-half away was a shape that I was fairly

sure was a basking shark. I was not 100% sure, dinner

was already being prepared, projecteers were already

working on their logbooks, we would have to get back

into the minibus, the tide was not ideal for crossing

the causeway to the Brough, and basking sharks are

exceptionally rare in the seas around Orkney, so it

would have been sensible and understandable to let the

moment pass. All I can say is that many excited people

got their first ever views of a basking shark that day and

the views looking down from the Brough as it fed in the

water below were stunning. If I remember correctly very

few of us got our feet wet on the causeway on the way

back, if any of us did at all…



Birthday Honours 2019

We send our congratulations to

Boyd McAdam (Class of 1973),

who was awarded the OBE for

services to young people.

Roz Colthart (Class of 1991) has been named as

one of 50 people in Britain to be recognised as

GREAT Inspirations, by a Government campaign

recognising those who have gone above and

beyond during COVID-19 to help other people,

for her work in launching The Salonpreneur

community, a free digital platform to support

self-employed salon professionals which is

now close to 3000 members. Roz said “The

community is made up of a Facebook group,

Instagram page and members only community

where I share business planning guides and

more... I started it as a bit of fun and never

imagined in a million years this would happen!”

Lev Demyanov (Class of 2017) hit the headlines

recently. Currently working with Skyrora Ltd, Lev

is believed to be Britain’s first apprentice Rocket

Engineer since the country abandoned the Blue

Streak ballistic rocket in the early 1970’s.

New Year Honours 2020

Congratulations go to:

Margaret Beels (Class of 1969)

who has been awarded an OBE

for her services to tackling and

preventing modern slavery and

labour exploitation.

Sarah Aitken (Class of 1989) who

was awarded the CB, for public


Catriona Stewart (Class of 1975),

who was awarded an OBE for

her services to autistic women.

Skyrora is a UK launch vehicle provider aiming

to support the government plans for space

sector growth through the development of an

orbital vehicle and carefully selected supply

chain innovations that will reinforce the industry

for years to come.

A former pupil is the newly appointed

Whanganui Collegiate (New Zealand) Director

of Cricket. Tom Dryden (Class of 2015) was

Vice-Captain of the 1st XI in 2015. Announced in

December 2019, the academy is a partnership

between the Whanganui Collegiate and the New

Zealand Cricket Foundation and will be open

to promising male and female cricketers of

secondary school age.



in the


Leigh Fell (Class of 2003), of Caritas Neuro

Solutions, was shortlisted as a finalist in

the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards

category of “New Entrepreneur of the Year”.

Caritas Neuro Solutions is a clinical

research organisation that supports the

development of new medicines and

therapies for neurological and psychiatric

illnesses. Leigh, Chief Executive Officer said,

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been

shortlisted for this prestigious award. It’s

an incredible feeling to have our hard work

recognised and appreciated in this way.”

Ross Hunter (Class of 1996) and his

father, Archie Hunter, founded Armadilla,

a Scottish outdoor living company, in

2010. In April this year, the company

received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in

recognition of its outstanding achievement

in innovation. At the same time as

receiving that news, Ross had entered a

global challenge Innovate2Ventilate. You

can read more about this on Page 14.

On 27 June 2020 Andrew Kerr (Class of

1969) was elected President of the Royal

Caledonian Curling Club - the governing

body for Curling in Scotland.





The Watsonian Club

All current and former pupils, staff, and parents are eligible for membership of either the Watsonian Club, or its

Sections. The main purpose of the Club is to promote and maintain relationships at home and abroad, strengthen

friendships, to promote the Club’s recognised Sections and Branches and encourage participation in sports and other

activities. We would encourage all Watsonians to be involved in Club activities.

Angling Club

Last year, we recorded our worst season on record. Various

theories have been advanced, from global warming to the impact

of salmon farms, to high seas fishing. The least apocalyptical

theory is that it is a cyclical thing. In recognition of this, day rods

on the beat have been free this year. Permits are required, both

to control numbers and satisfy the law, so please contact me if

you wish to fish. We were optimistic that this year would be better

but so far, although the Tweed generally is fishing fairly well, we

are still struggling, with only one fish by mid September. Trout

fishing is also available and can be very good. There was a fish of

14 pounds taken from the beat last season, which is a superb wild

fish by anyone’s standards.

For more information contact John Buchanan.

E: john@john-buchanan.com


The shocking killing of George Floyd has highlighted the ongoing inequalities faced by people

from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, causing us to reconsider our part

in tackling these injustices and improving our communities. While George Watson’s College

provides students with a fantastic education, more can be done to make the School a more

welcoming place for people of colour.

A group of former pupils have founded a BAME section of the Watsonian Club with three

objectives: (i) serve as a network for the School’s current and former BAME pupils (ii) aid

the school in making Watson’s more inclusive (iii) publicly recognise and celebrate the

achievements of BAME Watsonians.

Regardless of whether you are a former pupil, teacher or parent, and irrespective of your racial

background, if these objectives resonate and you would like to get involved then we would be

pleased to hear from you.

For more information contact Keshav Arvind:

E: karvind1017@gmail.com


Community Choir

The Watsonian Community Choir had a very successful season; notwithstanding the obvious

curtailment of activity in March. An exciting year had been planned for 2020, with a performance

of Carmina Burana, in the Usher Hall, with the massed GWC choirs in March and our own concert

set for May. Undeterred by lockdown, the Choir Master, Steven Griffin, kept his choristors on

song with a “Tuesday Tune” video, vocal warm ups, and even managed to bring them together

for a virtual session. All of which helped to keep members motivated and connected with each

other. Despite restrictions, the Choir will continue with digital rehearsals over the coming

months. Although at capacity, the Choir does have a waiting list in operation.

For more information contact the Watsonian Community Choir:

E: watsonianchoir@gmail.com Twitter: @watsonianchoir

Cricket Club

After the frustrations of idly watching the finest spring and early summer weather - for many

a year - pass us by, we finally resumed practice on 29 June; albeit restricted to playing in

the nets. Matches within the Club were permitted from 1 August and inter club fixtures

resumed on 15 August. On a positive note, we are running four senior men’s sides, a women’s

team, and a full complement of junior teams. We were fortunate to keep playing until mid

September, some three weeks later than usual and there have been a significant number of

new players, which augurs well for next season. We were also able to run our junior camps,

which proved to be very popular. In summary, a very frustrating early summer, but at least we

did get back to playing club cricket again!

For more information contact John Reid:

E: john.reid1@btinternet.com www.watsoniancricket.com

Curling Club

Having persevered with curling into early March - with disinfectant wipes and social distancing

- the ice rink closed and our last couple of games were cancelled, as was our Annual Dinner

and Prizegiving. However, we had managed to complete almost all of the season’s programme

though that, alas, meant conceding the FP League to Stewart’s Melville and not awarding the

trophy for our annual tussle with Edinburgh Accies. Still, we had clear winners for our other

games and competitions and although we had lost a couple of players at the start of the

season, we gained a couple during it and we should be in a good position to resume activity

whenever the new season might start.

For more information contact Dan Lean:

E: danjlean@yahoo.co.uk


Rugby/Football Club

The 2019/20 season saw the biggest change in men’s club rugby in Scotland since the

introduction of the National Leagues in 1973, with the start of the FOSROC Super6 semiprofessional

league. COVID-19 brought an early close to all rugby, but not before Watsonians

Rugby topped the Super6 league ahead of the cancelled play-offs, Watsonians Women won

all their games to win the Premiership and the Watsonians Club XV finished mid-table in

National League One, with a very good home record. Club second and third XV’s also played,

when opposition teams were available, and enjoyed some success. The Watsonian Warriors

increased their P2-P7 player base to over 200, for the first time, and were victorious at the

Biggar and Currie festivals. During lockdown and the subsequent phases, players from all

teams helped elderly and vulnerable Club members with shopping and other tasks.

For more information contact Iain Leslie:

E: iain@leslieandco.co.uk www.watsoniansrugby.com

Men’s Hockey Club

For more information contact Catie Craig:

E: catie_craig@hotmail.com or



Women’s Hockey Club

For more information contact Catie Craig:

E: catie_craig@hotmail.com or



Rifle Club

For more information contact Ian Thomson:

E: ciht@hotmail.co.uk



Australia (Sydney): Pat Stevenson E: trish@stevensons.com.au

T: 04 1204 1777 FB: SydneyWatsonians

Australia (Victoria): Donald MacLaren E: maclaren1942@gmail.com

T: 04 5266 0109

Belgium (Brussels): Andrew Brown E: andrew.brown@skynet.be

Canada (Toronto): Robert Chassels E: facebob@mybest.net

T: 001 905 272 2222

Dubai: Iain Munro E: iainalexandermunro@gmail.com

France (Paris): Patrick Bartholomew E: development@gwc.org.uk

Germany: Markus Schroeder E: macschroeder@web.de

Hong Kong: Mario Maciocia E: mmaciocia@aol.com

New Zealand: Douglas Bridges E: d.bridges@math.canterbury.ac.nz

T: 0064 3351 5058


Golf Club

The 2020 season may have suffered due to lockdown, but that was in sharp contrast to

the success of the 2019 season for the Watsonian Golf Club. Within the Club, the year

belonged to Richard Johnston, who not only won the Gold Medal at Muirfield and the

Club Championship, but was also selected to represent Scotland in the Senior Home

Internationals. His excellent form survived lockdown and continued into 2020 with a seven

under round of 65 in the 2nd round to win the Scottish Seniors event at Strathmore in

August. Our 2020 Annual Dinner may have been an early casualty of lockdown, but we are

delighted that plans are already in place for a blockbuster follow-up to our successful 2019

dinner, in March 2021. Golf has been one of the fortunate sports to emerge successfully from

lockdown. We have a full schedule of events planned for 2021 and a thriving membership, so

please join us and get involved. Former pupils, parents of pupils or staff of George Watson’s

College are welcome and can join online at www.watsoniangolfclub.com

Swimming Club

Members have been enthusiastic users of both the Galleon pool and the Myreside Pavilion

and as such, activities were greatly reduced post lockdown. However, members patriotically

held a joint whisky tasting with Colinton Bowling Club on Friday 6 March. For photographs

of this, and other Club events, during the last year, go to the Club website at: http://www.


Sadly, the Club’s long-time Social Convenor, Geoff Bulmer, who had arranged many dinners

and golf outings, died on 6 August.

For more information contact Alan Masson:

E: alanjmasson@virginmedia.com

Squash Club

For more information contact Richard McIntosh:

E: info@watsoniansquash.co.uk

If you would like to view the Watsonian Club Branch and Section full reports go to:


South Africa: Douglas Scott E: douglas.graham.scott@gmail.com

South East Asia (Singapore): Stephen Wise E: sdwise99@gmail.com

USA (East Coast): Robin Macdonald E: robin@optonline.net

USA (North California 1): Jake Mackenzie E: blumacjazz@aol.com

USA (North California 2): Brian Williamson E: brian@triadcon.com

UK Contacts

Highland and Moray: Richard Cavaye E: r.cavaye@btinternet.com

Lancashire: Nigel Kirkness E: nigelkirkness@yahoo.com

T: 01606 558 038

Border: Woody Morris E: woodymorris3@gmail.com

London: Alan Mackie E: alanbmackie@btinternet.com

Perth Women: Elizabeth Aitken E: aitkeneliza@aol.com

Yorkshire: Jill Mitchell E: jilliantomory@hotmail.co.uk



of Events

2019 - 2020

Despite the sudden halt to physical social calendars in March, we are pleased

to share some of our event highlights from 2019-20 and our future plans.

Dates for your Diary 2020 - 2021


Wednesday 16 December

A Watson’s Christmas


Friday 8 January

London Watsonian Club Annual Cenotaph Observance

Saturday 30 January

Annual Sydney Watsonian Club Burns Supper

Friday 5 February

Founder’s Day

Friday 2 April

Hong Kong Watsonian Club Dinner, Hong Kong Football Club

Sunday 16 May

Yorkshire Watsonian Club Lunch

Saturday 19 to Sunday 20 June George Watson’s Ladies’ College 150th Anniversary Weekend

Saturday 26 June Annual Reunion Groups (1940s, 1951, 61, 71, 81, 91, 2001, 2011)

Friday 17 September

Annual Highland and Moray Watsonian Dinner

Thursday 30 September

Paris and Belgium Branches Joint Watsonian Dinner

Friday 1 October

Daisy Coles (Class of 1911) Memorial, St Omer, France

Saturday 13 November

GWLC 150th Anniversary Gala Ceilidh

As events may be changed or postponed at short notice, please visit our website for up to date event information.



On Armistice Day, this busy month

got off to a poignant start, as

the Senior School Hall was filled

with staff, guests and pupils from

the Senior School, and - for the

first time - the Junior School, for

our annual Remembrance Day

Service. GWC marked the 100th

Armistice Day since the end of

World War One, commemorating

the 810 Watsonians who lost their

lives during the conflicts of the

20th Century. Prior to the service,

the name of every Watsonian

recorded in the Roll of Honour was

read aloud as a single bell tolled.

After the service, guests, pupils

and staff were invited to watch

a tree planting by Watsonian,

Thomas Dykes (Class of 1946) to

honour the service of those who

returned from the First World War.

Mr Dykes is the grandson of Dr

John Alison who was Headmaster

of Watson’s throughout World

War One and who led the first

Remembrance Service one

hundred years ago to the day.

Later that month, the President

of the Watsonian Club welcomed

guest speaker Jacqui Lowe to a

Business Breakfast for current

and former pupils. Jacqui is a

communications professional

with more than 30 years’

experience in media, business,

politics and government. Jacqui

gave us a very moving and

thought provoking insight into

her personal battles and the

challenges of rising to the top as

a woman in business.

The Class of 1975 gents celebrated

their 44th anniversary reunion in

Edinburgh. After the success of

their previous events, word had

clearly spread, as this well

attended event seems to have

been a thoroughly enjoyable

occasion - as you can see from

the photo!



Our fallen heroes were also

remembered in December,

as members of the London

Watsonian Club gathered in

Battersea Park to plant a young

oak tree to mark the Club’s

contribution to our Forest of

Remembrance. The small group,

some of whom had served in

the armed forces, took turns

laying soil into the foundations

of the tree; after which followed

a dram and a toast to the Fallen

of GWC (including a wee nip

poured into the roots of the

tree) and a moment’s silence.

A unique event for the Club,

it was certainly one of the

most enjoyable, and poignant,

in recent memory. Those in

attendance were proud to pay

their respects, on behalf of all

London Wasonians, and to have

been present at the start of a

growing and lasting tribute set in

the heart of the nation’s capital.

On Saturday 14 December,

the Watsonian Club of Victoria

(Melbourne) held their annual

summer barbecue. Attended

by 21 Watsonians and guests,

a fun time was had by all - in

perfect weather.

On the evening of 17 December,

following a Christmas reception at

the French Consulate in Parliament

Square, the annual Festival of Nine

Lessons and Carols took place at

St Giles’ Cathedral, where pupils,

parents and members of our

Watsonian community gathered

together to enjoy this traditional

start to the festive period.



The annual London

Watsonian Club Cenotaph

Observance took place

on Friday 10 January

in Whitehall. As is now

customary, there was an

impressive turnout, including

representation by the School

Captains, Phoebe Fogarty

and Lachlan White. The day’s

events concluded with lunch

at the Caledonian Club.


February started with a very

Scottish affair taking place, a

bit further from home, with the

much anticipated annual Sydney

Watsonian Club Burns Supper.

Harry Laing’s (Class of 1980)

professional expertise was missing

this year, as he had a better -

paying - offer in Queensland,

but the performance by David

Lyon (Class of 1968) and Hamish

Gregor (Class of 1967) proved a

big hit with their adaptation of the

Address to a Haggis, complete

with props.

On Thursday 6 February, the

President of the Watsonian Club,

Johnny Bacigalupo, hosted an

event for Past Presidents at the

Merchants’ Hall. Guests enjoyed

a fascinating presentation about

the history of The Royal Company

of Merchants of the City of

Edinburgh from Johnny, before

having the opportunity to tour

this remarkable building and it’s

vault, where priceless artefacts

are stored. This was the first time

the annual gathering had not been

hosted at Myreside Pavilion and

the Gods were either with us, or

against us, as only the day before

fire had torn through the Pavilion’s

upstairs bar and roof causing

significant damage to this iconic

and much loved building.

We were delighted that our 2020

Founder’s Day speaker, Donald

Runnicles (Class of 1972), was

able to take time out of his

busy schedule to fly in from

Berlin. Indeed, within an hour

Class of arriving of 1984 he Reunion, was on July stage 2019 in

the Senior School Assembly

Hall. Concurrently the General

Music Director of the Deutsche

Oper Berlin and Music Director

of the Grand Teton Music

Festival (Jackson, Wyoming),

Donald regaled pupils, staff and

Watsonians with stories of his own

time at Watson’s and highlights

from his career since. We were

delighted that he also officiated

over the inauguration of the

new School organ, which was

purchased thanks to donations.

The organ has been dedicated

to the former Head of Music,

Norman Hyde.


And finally...


It is said: “School days are the best of your life”, and I would definitely agree that this can be true in many cases. The ten

years I attended George Watson’s Boys’ College were some of the best years of my life, even though during that time the

Second World War was raging. And, it was upon receipt of a birthday card from the School - on the occasion of my 85th

birthday - that those happy memories of my days at Watson’s were brought to mind.

For me, my school achievements

lay not in academic subjects, but

in sport. I held several swimming

records, which led to me being

awarded my School Colours for

swimming in my final year. I was

proud to Captain the School when

we competed against Robert

Gordon’s College, Aberdeen, both

at home and away and, as I recall,

we won on both occasions. My love

for sport was not restricted to the

pool, I also played rugby and

squash, along with Brian Adair

(Class of 1953). Outside of school,

I was a member of the Edinburgh

Sports Club where Alistair

Groundwater, a Watsonian,

was the professional.

From my time at Watson’s,

I am, perhaps, proudest of my

involvement in the establishment

of the Naval Cadet Unit as part

of the School’s Combined Cadet

Force (CCF). At that time, the CCF,

founded by former pupil Sandy

Morrison in 1904 - who was sadly

killed in action during the Battle

of Loos at Hohenzollern Redoubt,

on 25 September 1915 - only had

an Army and Airforce unit. As my

English teacher, Mr McInnes, was

ex-Royal Navy and I was already a

Sea Cadet out of school, I persuaded

Mr McInnes to help me establish this

missing Senior Service. This, I am

delighted to say, was achieved, with

Mr McInnes, its first Commanding

Officer and I the first recruit.

The Cadet Pipe Band was

established some two years after

the formation of the School’s Cadet

Corps, as it was originally called.

Ted, the Head Janitor, tried tirelessly

to teach me to play the cornet and

bugle - but it was not to be! Instead,

I became a Tenor Drummer. Naval

Cadet Unit numbers began to grow

and Ian Livingston, Bass Drummer,

and myself, Tenor Drummer, were

recruited to the CCF Pipe Band,

proudly wearing our naval uniforms

and not the kilt and tunic dress

other band members wore.

The true meaning of the words

“Combined Cadet Force”

represented for the first time by

two cadets in their naval uniforms.

I embraced every opportunity

Watson’s offered, I was a Cub Scout

in the School’s Scout Troop, a

member of the Scripture Union and

the Scottish Schoolboys Club (SSC)

- a Club founded in 1912 for the

youth of Scotland by Stanley Nairne

- and I went on summer camping

holidays with them over my latter

years at school. I was also one of the

many school boys who went to the

Harvest Camp at the Hirsel Estate,

owned by Alex Douglas-Home,

where we worked for local farmers.

In spite of leaving Watson’s at the

age of 15 - without any school

certificates - I went on to study

at night school and served a

five-year apprenticeship with a

Civil Engineering Consulting firm

in Edinburgh.


After qualifying as a Chartered Civil Engineer, I became

a Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers (AMICE),

as well as gaining membership of the Civil Engineering

Institutes/Associations of Australia, America and

Switzerland (SIA).

I eventually became the first Civil Engineer in Scotland

to become a Partner in a multi-professional partnership

firm of Architects, Engineers and Planning Consultants in

Edinburgh. In 1970, I joined a Swiss Textile, Engineering

and Management Organisation as a Project Manager

for Overseas Projects and spent many years, until my

retirement in 1999, resident in European, African, Middle

East, Asia, Far East and South American countries in

construction of cotton, wool, silk and garment textile

plants, aluminium smelters and steel plants, as well

as telecommunications installations, hotels and a

Foreign Embassy!

If you would like to share memories from your

time at school, or since, then please email


I was extremely pleased to have received a card, from

my old school, on my 85th birthday. It was very nice

to know that I am not yet forgotten.

Douglas McWhannell (Class of 1952)



an event?

George Watson’s College offers a unique and inspiring venue with

modern facilities, close to the beautiful city centre of Edinburgh.

George Watson’s College offers a unique and inspiring

venue with modern facilities, close to the beautiful city

centre of Edinburgh.

Although events aren’t something we are able to enjoy

all together at the moment, we know that they will

return and when they do we will be ready to welcome

you at George Watson’s College.

The school offers a range of space to hire including our

Assembly Hall, Dining Hall and Music Auditorium, all

ideal for large events including gala dinners, weddings

and exhibitions. Our lecture theatre, classrooms,

meeting rooms and our Centre for Sport with its

facilities are perfect for a range of events from

training courses, dance and drama classes to

intimate celebrations and sporting events.

Please contact Amy Hutchison for more details

and to discuss planning your event with us:

E: a.hutchison@gwc.org.uk T: 0131 446 6000

We are delighted to offer Watsonians a 25%

service level discount on the hire of all our facilities

when booking an event at the school. Please visit

our website for more details on our facilities

and event services.


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