Inspirational Edinburgh teacher recognised on Queen’s honour list

Lindsay Watt, ex-head teacher at Castleview Primary School, with her former pupils, (back) Armut Yekta, Chelsea Reid, Kris Cheverton, (front) Jamie McIntosh brooks, Sophie Swinton, Ian Dodds and  Nicole Herron. Picture: Toby Williams
Lindsay Watt, ex-head teacher at Castleview Primary School, with her former pupils, (back) Armut Yekta, Chelsea Reid, Kris Cheverton, (front) Jamie McIntosh brooks, Sophie Swinton, Ian Dodds and Nicole Herron. Picture: Toby Williams
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AN inspirational primary headteacher who transformed a school in one of the Capital’s most under-privileged neighbourhoods has been recognised in today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Lindsey Watt, who retired in February from Castleview Primary in Craigmillar, was awarded an OBE for services to education in the Capital.

The much-loved teacher took the school’s official rating from “fair” to “excellent”.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “Such a tremendous honour. It has been an absolute privilege to serve the Craigmillar community. What a fantastic job I have had. It was a joy to teach there.”

Others awarded honours today included former Tattoo producer Brigadier Mel Jameson, former Lothian Green MSP Robin Harper, hotelier Norman Springford and David Climie, project director for the new Queensferry Crossing.

Ms Watt, 60, who was born in Restalrig, worked in Lothian schools all her career, teaching at Winchburgh, Sciennes, Gilmerton and Bonaly before becoming head at Abbeyhill, then Sciennes and moving to Castleview in 2005.

“After doing a Columba 1400 leadership course, I decided I wanted to work in an area of regeneration. It was one of the happiest times of my life working in Craigmillar.”

Shortly before she arrived the school had been rated only “fair” in several areas.

“We worked very hard at raising attainment and in 2013 the inspection came out ‘excellent’. It was largely down to the wonderful team I had working with me, who worked so hard for the benefit of the children in Craigmillar.”

Ms Watt is on the International Council of Education Advisers, which advises Deputy First Minister John Swinney on educational matters. And she serves as a tutor with the Columba 1400 leadership organisation based in Skye, funded by Sir Tom Hunter and the Scottish Government.

“It allows me to put something back of the experiences I’ve had over nearly 40 years. There is a joy in teaching and a joy in leadership and I want to encourage more people to become school leaders. It’s the best job in the world. I would like more people to have the experiences I have had. It has brought me nothing but pleasure.”

An OBE also went to Norman Springford, founder of Apex Hotels and the man behind the Ross Development Trust which is pursuing plans for a £25 million concert arena in Princes Street Gardens he has offered to help bankroll.His honour is for services to the Scottish tourism industry.

Brigadier Jameson, who was in charge of the Tattoo for 12 years before stepping down in 2006, was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO).

Now the Lord Lieutenant of Perth & Kinross, he was credited with transforming the Tattoo into a world phenomenon.

Sandy Begbie, Chief People Officer at Standard Life, was made a CBE for services to business and social inclusion. He chairs the regional Developing Young Workforce (DYW) group to tackle youth unemployment in Edinburgh and Lothian. And he has helped the company introduce blind recruiting, where hiring managers know nothing about the candidate apart from their name. “It has resulted in us recruiting people we never would have before because of qualifications, social background or unconscious bias,” he said.

Robin Harper, who became the UK’s first Green parliamentarian when elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, received an OBE.

Former Tory councillor and bailie Alastair Paisley, who was given a BEM, said he was “delighted and honoured” with the award. “I’m accepting it on behalf of all the foot soldiers from all parties who deliver leaflets year after year. I’ve been doing it for 57 years.”

Dr Alison Elliot, who was the first female Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly in 2004 – an elder rather than a minister, was awarded a CBE for public service. David Climie, Transport Scotland’s project director on the £1.35 billion Queensferry Crossing, received an OBE for services to engineering.