Alasdair started his education as a pupil at Daniel Stewart’s College in 1963 with Miss Burt as his teacher from P1-P3. He was at School when it merged with Melville College in 1973, enjoying the RAF Section of the Combined Cadet Force, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and chairing the Charities Committee in sixth year. He loved the extra-curricular activities but nonetheless left School with five Highers. Later, when he became an Assistant on the Master’s Court at the Merchant Company of Edinburgh he was appointed a Governor for a three year term. He was invited to return in 2017 as Governor by Mike Sims as he was always ready ‘to ask the tough questions’ and his business background enabled him to bring a different perspective to the discussions.
At the time when Alasdair left School, everyone joined the FP Club and the subscriptions were minimal. In the first 20 years after school he wasn’t particularly active in the Club as he focused on his career and family, however his business has an office in Aberdeen and he started to attend the FP Club Dinner there as a good way to network and catch up with old friends. It gave an extra dimension to his visits to the city outwith the Dinner as he established a network of contacts to meet in the evenings after work. He then started to attend the Glasgow Dinner and the Parent Club Dinner in Edinburgh. Alasdair says that the Branch Clubs are all very different from each other. Glasgow is about the School and the staff at the time the FPs were there and all the pranks they were involved in. The Parent Club dinner tends to be more formal. The Aberdeen Dinner strikes a balance – there are more guests than FPs and School memories are therefore less relevant. The main speaker was often David Gray but rather than talk about ESMS specifically, he used to select a topic in the education sphere. On one occasion he spoke about matching similar sized pupils to make rugby safer, rather than similar ages and shortly afterwards this became the norm.
At the age of 16 Alasdair started his company, Trinity Factors, with the assistance of his parents and before he left school. He began to manage rental flats, garages and blocks of flats with every expectation that his career would be in the property sector. Alasdair studied at Napier College as he felt the BA course suited him; as did their flexibility with attendance providing he passed the examinations, as he was growing the business whilst studying. In his year at Napier, he learnt about the most important aspects of running a business: contract law and Scots law in general, accounting, marketing, economics and general business practice. However, at the end of his first year, Napier tightened up on attendance requirements so, after much thought, he cease his studies to concentrate on the business. Alasdair’s business progressed over the years and when he was around 24, it was able to support him in married life. The business has grown significantly and now manages over 10,000 properties employing over 65 staff. In recent years Alasdair has increasingly focused strategy and policy; leaving his capable team to deal with the day-to-day aspects.
Outwith work, Alasdair became a Special Constable and a Squadron Commander in the Air Training Corps . Apart from the Royal Company of Merchants, and his involvement with ESMS, Alasdair is a member of the Rotary Club of Braids. Rotary aims to make things better, not just locally but around the world. Through Rotary he volunteers in Tanzania, on a small island called Ukerewe in Lake Victoria which is always a challenging yet hugely satisfying experience. Rotary undertakes a variety of projects there which have a significant impact on the quality of life for the local population, with lots of infrastructure work being undertaking, including renovation of hospital wards and repairs and improvements to the water supply to ensure that all schools have piped water. There is an issue with safe water on the island as there is little rainfall so most water is taken out of the lake which sadly contains Bilharzia flukes. Life expectancy on the island is very low at 45-50, partially due to the water quality.
Alasdair sees the role of the Governing Council as supporting the Senior Leadership Team of the Schools in every aspect of school life. He believes the Schools provide an unrivalled quality of education, as evidenced again in the recent examination results, and that they produce young people who are not only educated but well-rounded, kind and who have a wide range of interests. He says “The size of the school gives it a breadth of resources for staff to provide so many extra curricular activities. The hard work and attitude of the staff is fantastic and this shows in the pupils who often go on to higher education; arriving on the world stage in politics, medicine , engineering and a wide range of other professions hoping to make a difference.”
“It is an interesting time to be taking over the Chair of the Council as we welcome the dynamic new Principal of ESMS, the excellent interim Head of Stewart’s Melville College and of course we already have the very capable Kirsty Nicholson as Head of The Mary Erskine School. My predecessor as Chair of the Governing Council had to support the schools through lots of change, including staffing at leadership levels and all the logistical issues created by the pandemic, so this will be a time to stabilise and focus on the future. Our new Principal is settling into his role and will be focusing on developing excellence at the Schools which I will wholeheartedly support, with an ever-stronger Governing Council providing breadth of experience. We will support the Senior Leadership Team and staff to help them in the challenging role of delivering an ever-improving educational experience. I would especially like to see an increase in the size of funding that is Access to Excellence. It is an outstanding way of assisting children who would not otherwise benefit from the quality of our education.”.