Category: Alumni

Profiles on former pupils of Hawick High School


Sandy Kerr PhD

Dr Sandy Kerr is a Lecturer in Environmental Management with the Institute of Petroleum Engineering at Heriot Watt University. Sandy was brought up in the Borders where he still has strong family ties.

Based at Heriot Watt’s Orkney campus since 1993 he has a particular interest in the sustainable development of small island communities and how energy and renewable energy in particular can facilitate this. Sandy is also a Lecturer on the MSc Programme in Renewable Energy from Heriot Watt University.


Keith Kerr BSc, MB, ChB, FRCPath, FRCPE

Professor Keith Kerr graduated BSc with first class honours in Pathology in 1978, MB ChB in 1981, followed by post-graduate training in Pathology at Edinburgh University Medical School and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. He obtained MRCPath in 1988, FRCPath in 1998 and was elected Honorary FRCP(Ed) in 2006. He has been a Consultant Pathologist in Aberdeen since 1989. He was awarded an Honorary Chair in Pulmonary Pathology by the University of Aberdeen in 2006.

He has had a career long interest in lung cancer for over 35 years and has research interests in pulmonary pre-neoplasia and carcinogenesis, in lung tumour diagnosis and classification and in the identification of predictors of therapy response.

Throughout his career, he has worked in diagnostic histopathology with a special interest in Thoracic Pathology, but has always maintained close links with the clinical practice of thoracic medicine, especially thoracic oncology. He has maintained an active research interest in his own laboratory as well as through national and international collaboration. He enjoys his ongoing commitments to under- and postgraduate teaching.


John Edward Dodd (J.E.D) Murray

John Edward Dodd (J.E.D) Murray was born in the year 1858 at 57 Hawick High Street.

Background information
John Edward Dodd Murray had a wife called Margaret €œDaisy€ Young, who had been his Cornet’s Lass. They had one child called Melgund.

His photographic business
He left Hawick to pursue work at the chemists, grocery and insurance trades before returning to Hawick in 1886 to set up a photographic business. Jed’s first studios was where the Post Office was later built. He then moved to 43 Bridge Street in 1902 and his business became one of Hawick’s foremost photography businesses.

A MAN WITH MANY TALENTS
John Edward Dodd Murray was a writer with many talents. He wrote many Hawick songs  including: “The Wail of Flodden”, “The Mosstroopers Song” and “Clinty’s Song”.  As young as 14, J.E.D had written and published a poem called “Hornshole” which led on to more famous Hawick poems including “The Reeky Howe”. As a keen writer of songs and poems J.E.D published some comedic and musical plays with the help of Adam Grant. Only scripts for “The Gutterbludes” (1905) and “Kirsty o’ Cocklaw Castle” (1904) survive. “The Gutterbludes” was revived and performed twice by the Two Rivers Theatre Company in 2000 and 2005.  J.E.D was also a painter and a portrait of his favourite horse “Oakwood Daisy” is mounted up in the museum.

His Common-Riding spirit
J.E.D was Cornet in 1890 and Acting Father not once but four times in 1901, 1905, 1912 and 1925. During the First World War he personally rode the marches each Common Riding Day. He acted as a marshal at the Common-Riding for many years and ordered the curds and cream for almost half a century. He was a founder member of the Callants Club in 1904 and in 1920 he suggested the founding of the Mosstroopers’ Club, where his horse was the model for the badge.

Other interests
John Edward Dodd Murray was a keen walker and a lover of the outdoors. He published a book entitled “Over the Rolling Stones by One of Them.” He was involved with the local Amateur Operatic SocietY and he also became an honorary life member of the Golf Club after the success of “The Caddie’s Ghost” an 1894 fund-raiser.

His Death
J.E.D sadly passed away in 1936. He is buried in the Wellogate Cemetery. A trophy called the “J.E.D Murray Trophy” was first presented at the 1938 Common Riding race meeting in his honour. A plaque was unveiled at his home where he grew up at 57 High Streetin 2006 and the Mosstroopers’ Club held a celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth.

J E D Murray was truly a man of many talents.

By Rachel Goldie


Jim Renwick

Jim Renwick is recognised as having been one of Scotland’s best ever rugby players.
Born in Hawick on 12th February 1952, he became a pupil of HawickHigh School after spending his primary years at Drumlanrig Primary School.

Jim was a successful junior swimmer, winning the Scottish under 14’s 100yards freestyle title in 1966.

He decided to focus on rugby and trained hard. His PE teacher was the late Bill McLaren who Jim feels had the greatest impact on him at school as a teacher.
“He was a great PE teacher I always enjoyed his lessons.” Jim Renwick 2012
Jim played stand-off for Hawick High, PSA and Hawick Harlequins gaining his first cap for Hawick age 17. He says his best achievement was playing for Hawick for 17 years.

Jim gained 52 caps for Scotlandas centre and became a British Lion.
His advice to young players is to work hard, maybe need some luck, but if you think you’re good, stick in.

by Ewan Chelley


Jean Wintrope

Jean Wintrope was born on Friday the 13th of May 1927. She was born in her house in Orchard Terrace and her brother Jim was born in 1925 and he still lives in the same house!  She was born Jane Maben Whillans but she has always been Jean. Jean’s mother was born into a family of nine and her name was Helen Millar Charters. Her father was born in Weens Lodge and his name was William James Whillans.  When Jean was a child, she thoroughly enjoyed making concerts and performing them – she even had a curtain!  Jean’s house had a massive garden and her family owned three allotments. In their garden they grew peas, potatoes, carrots, onions, rhubarb, gooseberries, raspberries and they also had  two apple trees – one with eating apples and the other with cooking ones. The garden was essential for putting food on the table. There was  a piano in the house and she learnt to read music.

A teacher named Miss Forsyth spotted Jean’s potential when she was just seven years old! A woman named Beatrice Miranda used to come every week from Edinburgh to produce opera and she saw true potential in Jean.  She used to have singing lessons on a Saturday at lunchtime in Edinburgh and she used to love it as she was able to go on the train!  She was chosen to go to the Scottish Touring Theatre. Jean was at Hawick High School between 1939 and 1943 and in this period of time, her friends were Madge Robson and Jean Dodds. She went to Guides and Singing Club with Madge. Her favourite subjects at school were Music and English. Jean’s favourite teacher at Hawick High School was Music teacher William R. Smith or ‘Smithy’.  Jean was never allowed to go to dances because she was a member of the Congregational Church and she was under very strict rules. She left school at the age of 16. When she was a teenager, Jean always wanted to pursue her dream of going to Drama school but her father wasn’t keen. Jean was 18 when she joined the Hawick Amatuer Operatic Society but before that she was part of the Junior Drama Club. The Opera had stopped in 1939 for the beginning of the war and in 1945 a meeting was held in the Farmer’s Room of the Crown Hotel to start the Opera up again. Jean can remember the song she sang at the audition. It was called ‘Pipes of Pan’. Jean got the part and went on to play the lead role of ‘Countrygirl’ in 1947. Costumes for the opera came from London and rehearsals were held in the Masonic Hall in Commercial Road.  Jean has participated in so many operas but her favourite is ‘My Fair Lady’ when she played the lead role, Eliza Doolittle.

by Connie Rafferty


David Chapman

David John Chapman was born on the 24th of March 1962.  He attended Drumlanrig  Primary School, and then went on to attend Hawick High School, from 1974 to 1979. His favourite teachers were Mr Lawrie (English), Mr Gordon (English), Mr Proudfoot (Technological Studies) and Mr Grieve (Physical Education). His favourite subjects were Technological Studies and Physical Education. David’s friends at school were David Barker, Neil Dalgetty, Kevin Campbell, Bruce Michie, Stephen Adams and Alan Rae. When he was at school he wanted to become a civil engineer when he left school, but instead went straight to Pringle of Scotland. He worked at Peter Scott’s for many years.  He is now European Sales Manager for Scott & Charters (Hawick) Ltd.

David has a keen interest in music, as well as Scotland, so formed a band with his friend Iain Scott to represent this, known as Scocha the name coming from their names “ Sco for Scott and Cha for Chapman. His favourite songs the band have produced are “Reivers Are Riding” and “Jumpers For Goalposts”, but he loves them all. Scocha have done many tours, but his favourite is the New York tour they did, but very close seconds are Canada and Germany. He also enjoys playing in Hawick, as you’re in front of your own friends and family. David has talent for music, and plays many instruments: accoustic/electric guitar, drums, bodhran, percussion and kazoo. David is a very busy man, but if he ever gets a spare bit of time he loves watching the rugby, especially international matches involving Scotland. He also listens to lots of music, and when he gets the chance, enjoys socializing over a pint or two of Guinness.

by Emily Lockie


Mark White

Mark started his broadcasting career with BBC Radio Scotland in 1987. When the tragic event of the Lockerbie air disaster occurred Mark was sent to cover it and he spent more than a year working in and around Lockerbie and reported on a five-month long Lockerbie Fatal Accident Inquiry in Dumfries.

Moving to television in 1991, Mark White joined Border Television to work on the nightly news programme “Lookaround.” In November 1992 he moved up North and became the main presenter and reporter for the Grampian Television (known now as the STV North) regional news programme North Tonight. Mark had to resign from that TV programme in November 1999 after an outburst of laughing whilst he was on air giving a serious news report. Later that month he joined Sky News, where he is now the channel’s Home Affairs Correspondent.

Mark White has reported many headlines in his career such as from Indonesia on the Boxing Day Tsunami, from the Old Bailey on the London nail-bombing trial, Abu Hamza’s incitement to murder trial, on numerous terrorist attacks and related stories, including the London bombings in 2005.

In February 2011, Mark helped the rest of the production team of Sky News win a Royal Television Society award for all its coverage of the student riots.

By Rachel Goldie


Gordon Muir

Gordon Muir attended Hawick High School from 1971 to 1977. He had many friends at school but his best friend were Paul Hogarth, Douglas Kernaghan and Michael Norris.

Gordon’s favourite teachers were Art teachers Rab Brown and Stuart Frame who inspired him and others for many years. However, Gordon didn’t enjoy Latin as much as his total combined score for his three exams didn’t even get a pass!

When Gordon was at school he didn’t have a dream job. All he knew was that he didn’t want to be a vet like his father. After  university his initial plan was to be a commercial graphic designer during the day and paint great master-pieces at night but that never really worked out.

Gordon is difficult to categorise job-wise.  It depends on which project he is working at the time – designer, artist, sculptor, Art Director, photographer, writer, music manager, music producer, props builder, van driver, lambing man, dry-stane dyker……!

His latest project was to design the memorial commemorating the men who lost their lives in the construction of the Forth railway bridge.

By Akiko


Jimmie Guthrie

Jimmie Guthrie is one of Hawick’s motor cycle racing legends. He was born on May 23rd 1897 and died tragically while leading in the German Grand Prix of 1937. He competed in 12 TT races and won 6 of them. He will forever be remembered by the statue of him in Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick not that far from where he used to live. In Hawick there is an annual tribute run for the world famous motorcyclist which is always a great success. After his death hundreds of German mourners came to pay their respects. He was put on a special train to take him to the border. Jimmie Guthrie’s funeral procession in Hawick was 3 miles long. Hawick had lost its favourite son and European motor cycle racing an exceptional rider.

By Charlie Wilson


Adam ‘Vasilevich’ Armstrong

Adam ‘Vasilevich’ Armstrong was born in 1761, the eldest son of William Armstrong, the Schoolmaster of Hobkirk. He attended Hawick Grammar School and was the Dux (top pupil in their year) of 1777. After school he went to Edinburgh University.

He worked as a tutor for the Robson-Scotts of Belford, and later for Admiral Greig (cousin of Dr Charters of Wilton, and future father in law to Mary Somerville).

Together with Greig, he went to Russia, were he ‘achieved distinction in the Imperial Government of Alexander 1’ and was appointed Senior Mining Director of the Olonets Ironworks in Petrozavodsk and Chief of their St Petersburg works. He also gave himself the middle name of ‘Vasilevich’ which translates from Russian as ‘son of William’.

Sometime later, Adam travelled back to Britain to bring Charles Gascoigne, the manager of the Carron Ironworks to Russia with him. After Gascoigne’s death in 1806, Armstrong took over for him.

He married Isabella Lindsay, the daughter of Dr Lindsay of Jedburgh, and through doing so became the Proprietor of Mary Queen of Scots House. Isabella had been a love interest of Robert Burns when he visited Jedburgh on his Border Tour of 1787 and her marriage to Armstrong occurred only 24 days after she and Burns last saw each other. Together they had four children: 2 sons called John and Robert Lindsay, and another 2; however, their names and gender (most likely girls) are unknown.

Adam Armstrong died from a severe cold that he caught whilst traveling from St Petersburg, back to Petrozavodsk. He was known to express his concerns for the welfare of the, often very poor, workers of the Olonets Ironworks. To this end his daughter-in-law in his memory donated 3000 Roubles to help workers and their families that were associated with the Olonets Ironworks. Armstrong himself is buried in an unknown location in St Petersburg, but his name is recorded on his parent’s gravestone in Hobkirk kirkyard.

By Haru Nagato Apthorp


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