Man leaves £2.7m to George Watson’s scholarships

George Watson's College. Picture: Rob McDougall
George Watson's College. Picture: Rob McDougall
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A BACHELOR businessman left the bulk of a £4m fortune to his former school to help children from poorer backgrounds, it has emerged.

John Martin, 84, ordered most of his massive fortune should be given to George Watson’s College in Edinburgh where he was taught as a boy

The school’s George Watson’s Family Foundation provides scholarships to help youngsters from less privileged backgrounds.

Famous faces who have attended the school include Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy and rugby legend Gavin Hastings.

John passed away aged 84 in Edinburgh in December last year having made a fortune in the agriculture business.

His published will has revealed he had an estate worth £3,896,469.82 when he died with £1,170,000 being given to friends and good causes.

But he left instructions for the remaining £2.7m to be handed over to the George Watson’s Family Foundation.

Gareth Edwards, the principal at George Watson’s College, paid warm tributes to him.

He said: “Our former pupil, John Martin was a great supporter of the school throughout his lifetime and we were very sad to hear of his recent death.

“We are both delighted and humbled by his decision to remember Watson’s and to help us perpetuate the legacy of our founder George Watson.”

A keen cricket fan, John also left £20,000 to Watsonian Cricket Club in the capital, where he was a much loved presence.

A tribute posted on the club’s website marking his death said: “The club regret to announce the passing of John Martin.

“John was a tremendous servant to the club over the years as both a player and loyal supporter. He will be dearly missed by regulars at Myreside.”

The George Watson’s Family Foundation was set up in 1997 and exists to continue the spirit of the legacy left by George Watson which led to the opening of Watson’s in 1741.

Merchant and banker Watson wanted children from less advantaged backgrounds to enjoy the quality of education available to those more fortunate.

Former Scottish secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind and ex-Liberal leader Lord Steel also attended the fee-paying school.

John’s will shows he had a stocks and shares portfolio worth £3.1m as well as a £500,000 home in Edinburgh.

He also had £230,000 in a Bank of Scotland account.

The generous bachelor left £50,000 each to Marie Curie Cancer Care Scotland and Cancer Research UK Scotland.

He gifted £20,000 to Marchmont St Giles Church in the capital and also ordered £675,000 shared out among friends.

And he also gave a total of £325,000 to former employees of his family grain firm J.D. Martin Ltd in Edinburgh which was sold in 1991 to W.N. Lindsay Ltd.

The Reverend Dr Karen Campbell, minister of Marchmont St Giles, said: “Mr Martin was a member of this congregation and I had known him for about 12 years before he died.

“When I got to know him he was elderly, but he was a lovely, delightful and kind man, with no family, who was also a very private individual who kept himself to himself.

“He used to attend church every week and I am delighted to hear that he has left money to the church in his will.

“He was just a lovely wee man.”

John’s funeral service was held at Mortonhall Crematorium.