Sporting legend and great author honoured by school

He was the pioneering athlete whose legacy was immortalised in one of the greatest British films of all time.

Thursday, 27th October 2016, 7:47 am
Updated Thursday, 27th October 2016, 4:31 pm
John Swinney speaks with pupils in the S4 National 5 Languages class at the new James Gillespie's High School.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
John Swinney speaks with pupils in the S4 National 5 Languages class at the new James Gillespie's High School. Picture: Ian Rutherford

And now, pupils at James Gillespie’s High School will be hoping to take inspiration from Liddell – who famously refused to run on a Sunday due to his devout Christian beliefs – after choosing to name the school’s new sports block after the sporting hero.

The building was officially opened yesterday by Deputy First Minister John Swinney as part of the £42.8 million rebuild of the Gillespie’s campus, with teaching blocks also named after The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie author and former pupil Muriel Spark and Pakistani female education activist Malala Yousafzai.

Liddell’s niece, Sue Caton, was guest of honour at the opening and was delighted her uncle’s legacy was being carried on.

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“I was so pleased to hear that the pupils themselves chose the name, it’s amazing that he has continued to inspire people after all this time,” she said.

“When you think about what he achieved and the way he went about it, I think he is an inspirational character. He was so resilient and so focused on his goals while understanding the work he had to put in to achieve them. If he ends up inspiring the next generation of athletes then it will do his amazing legacy justice.”

The project, which began in 2012, aimed to replace the previous school buildings across the campus, which serves nursery, primary and secondary school-age children on the same site.

The final phase of construction, which included the Liddell building and the Spark and Malala blocks was completed in August in time for the start of the academic year. Almost 60 classrooms were constructed, while pupils can also enjoy a new gym hall and swimming pool in the Liddell block.

Headteacher Donald MacDonald revealed he was “honoured” to be head at the time of the project’s completion.

He said: “The students have already embraced and been inspired by their new surroundings, they have a fantastic environment to learn in and I expect them to take full advantage.

“They chose the names for all three of our new buildings because the values of those represented rubbed off on them.

“The students understand that none of them got to the top of their field without a lot of hard work and aspire to follow in their footsteps.”

Education leader, Councillor Paul Godzik, said: “One of my first acts as Education convener in 2007 was to be here at the parent council meeting where I was told very forcefully about the need for a new school.

“This has been a unique education construction project in Scotland with new buildings across the nursery, primary and secondary schools. I know pupils, parents and staff are delighted with the facilities.”