Thanks to Billy for the following:


Rumbling Bridge
November, 1985.

Dear Former Pupil

I had intended another year or two before writing to you again. That would have made it every 7 years since 1965. However, events have decreed that the niceties of mathematics shall not apply in this third case for I am retiring on December 31st this year - 2 1/2 years before my 50th birthday. The reasons are personal to myself so I won't spell them out. Suffice it to say, it is not because I have become fed up with modern youth or anything like that, (although I have to admit that advancing years preclude me from 'chasing up as used to do). Rather it is because my personal priorities have changed and I wish to do other things. The family connection with the school will remain in that my wife will continue to be housemother (to keep me in the style to which I am accustomed and why not. I did it for her for 15 years).

In any case I shan't be far away. In fact I can see our house as I write this in my study - its just opposite the Smithy. So I do hope you will continue to visit us as before as it is always a great joy to see you. Even if the message about the school you bring, may be critical sometimes, it is all taken in good part because we all have to go on learning all our life.

What's been happening since five years ago? The principal thing seems to me that the tendencies which I outlined then, towards a smaller school, have intensified to the point where there are only 27 pupils. We don't fill a corner of the Games Hall! Even Assembly in the morning looks pretty sparse. The reasons for this are hidden. However, shortage of finance on the part of Local Authorities has a large part to play I am, sure. Also there is a widespread mistrust of residential education and an overwhelming desire to find community based solutions to problems. Of course I'm prejudiced here. Not only was I at boarding school (from the age of 9 to 17 but also my brother and sister (the latter from the age of 6) and my two younger children Valerie and Benjamin. Whilst maybe that is an exaggeration of the desirable, I can't help feeling that the majority of young people could benefit from a spell in boarding school and that what is wrong with private boarding schools is precisely that they are private. In fact we need a vast extension of the money the state puts into residential education not as at present a retrenchment. Having said all that I do sympathise with those of you who felt you were "put away" at Lendrick. That could not happen now. And there is much merit in the community trying to find local solutions to local problems. But the pendulum has swung too far, even if a young person and their family wanted a placement at Lendrick it would be highly improbable that one would be forthcoming. The residential option is nearly always considered only as a last resort after other courses of action have been proved inappropriate, (even where they seemed unlikely to succeed in the first place!). And so we could actually fill up Lendrick with 15 year olds who just have a year or less to fill in before leaving school. But we prefer not to. It does not seem to me to be a good use of our resources.

Despite our small size the school goes on much as reported in my last circular letter. Above all we have been fortunate in being allowed to keep most of the staff so that there is much more individual attention given than before. No strikes at Lendrick! Of course there has been the usual crop of departure Frank Zwolinski thought we were shutting down and moved to a List 'D' school which did. Ron Cowels moved to the school in Yorkshire where both Mr. Glaister and myself were before coming north. The two Smiths have also gone - Jimmy to Elgin High and Bryan firstly to Dollar Academy and now just recently to a Bank (empty) from where he proposes to run an Interior Design business. (Incidentally Crispin Heath, returned from South America, has also bought a Bank (empty) in Anstruther, where he is running a private outdoor education venture. Unhappily the Great Reaper has claimed his share too: Mrs Robertson among the cleaning ladies and Miss Ramage (Mrs. Winnick) among the housemothers. Among the F.P's I know of the deaths of John Buchanan, Irene Robertson and Kevin McLeod, all in tragic circumstances.

What message can I give to you who are living in these days of full unemployment? To those of you who are single I would say "venture forth". If that sounds a bit political like Norman Tebbit's "Get on your bike" it is not meant to be because of course the nation can't solve its unemployment problems solely by increased labour mobility. But an individual can and I know of many F.P's who have done just that - by moving around and being willing to take on anything, even if it is in England and/or abroad. (Valerie is in Spain having a whale of a time as an 'au pair'). To those of you who are married and to that extent less mobile, I would say 'keep the lamp of humanity shining in your local community'. Today is an Age of Unreason - we all have to do our bit to let our light shine forth to lighten the darkness as much as possible.

Finally, may I welcome you to my successor, Mr. Henry G. Mulford, formerly of Corrdyce Special Residential School, currently Headmaster of an Aberdeen day Special School.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Au revoir,


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