Obituary: Sandy Munro, teacher, 83

Sandy Munro built the Geilsland regime for troubled boys
Sandy Munro built the Geilsland regime for troubled boys
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Sandy Munro, an Edinburgh-born headteacher who helped change the lives of thousands of boys in approved schools has died.

Mr Munro was born in Edinburgh on August 12, 1931, and grew up on Wilton Road, from where his father Alexander Binnie Munro ran his paper merchant business.

He had a close bond with sister Moira, and had a happy childhood and as a youngster was involved in Cubs, Scouts and amateur dramatics, and often holidayed with his family in Elie in Fife.

He attended Melville College boys’ school where he developed a keen interest in rugby.

He was religious and spent time at Mayfield South Church, which at the time was led by the inspiring Rev John L Riach.

After gaining a BSc and MA at Edinburgh University, a chance encounter brought him to Dr Guthrie’s Approved School for Boys as a Scout Master, which steered him away from Divinity College, Edinburgh and a life in the ministry.

He went instead to Moray House Teacher Training College where he gained his Dip Ed and the Dickson Prize for being The Outstanding Teacher Among the Outgoing Students.

Mr Munro then spent three years in the navy, where he realised his talents and passion lay in training “wayward” boys to do well and so he became a training officer at HMS Ganges in Ipswich.

Under his instruction the first ever Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award in 1956 was awarded to a navy cadet.

He left the navy to return to teaching and became third in charge at Wellington Farm Senior Boys Approved School in Penicuik, then deputy head at Norton Approved School for Boys in Warwickshire, where he learned the trades that would help build Geilsland in Ayrshire.

The Geilsland regime he established, of discipline and life skills, gave the boys a sense of self-worth and pride, and up until the week of his passing former Geilsland pupils and teachers continued to make weekly visits, phone calls or write with updates on their families and life decisions.

A heart attack forced Mr Munro into early retirement and subsequent health conditions were fought with what his family describe as “superhuman strength”.

Sandy and his wife Shirley have enjoyed their life together quietly beside the sea in Ayr. In the past few months he was writing his autobiography and it is his own words here that best describe his 
life: “I’ve been convinced I’ve had a life!”

Sandy died peacefully at home in Ayr on October 2. He is survived by his beloved wife Shirley; sons Chris, Andrew and Stuart; and grandchildren Mark, Steven, Gary, Nicola, Laura, Hazel, Katie and Gemma; and sister Moira, his lifelong friend.

He recently became a great-grandfather to Isla and Emma.