Obituary: David Bruce McMurray, 77

David Bruce McMurray
David Bruce McMurray
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A FORMER Loretto headmaster who championed co-educational reforms has died at the age of 77.

David Bruce McMurray was born in Edinburgh on December 15, 1937 and attended both the junior and the senior schools at Loretto in the 1950s.

He was a keen athlete (in the 1st XV and 1st XI) and a school prefect. He did his national service in the Royal Scots and then read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

After a few years teaching at Stowe he joined the staff at Fettes in 1964 where he became head of the English department, a housemaster and coached both the rugby and cricket teams.

He taught Tony Blair and as master-in-charge of rugby presciently observed: “Blair is the most courageous tackler I’ve ever seen.”

In 1976 he was appointed headmaster of Loretto and it was to prove an inspired choice.

In his first year Mr McMurray had the daunting task of hosting the school’s 150th anniversary celebration.

He oversaw the modernisation of many of the school’s facilities – converting the gym to a new library, a new music school and markedly refurbishing many of the boarding houses.

Mr McMurray left in 1984 for a spell at Oundle School in Northamptonshire before retiring in 1999 to East Lothian where he much enjoyed playing the various golf courses in the area.

He came out of retirement in 2001 to assume the headmastership of Rannoch School for just one term.

Mr McMurray served as HM Commissioner, Queen Victoria School, Dunblane and was a member of the Edinburgh Festival Society Council.

He was appointed a governor of Fettes in 1994 and chairman of the governors in 2006. His agile mind allied with his life-long experience of working in education in Scotland ensured that he was a most active and dedicated chairman. The new water-based astro hockey pitch is named in his honour.

McMurray was the ultimate committed and consummate schoolmaster – he enjoyed teaching and imparting his knowledge.

He was passionate about English literature – particularly poetry – and was much respected and admired by generations of former pupils and colleagues.

Gavin Mcdowall, a member of the Loretto staff for many years, remembers McMurray as a colleague and friend whose “judgment was sound and fair”.

He added: “David was an enthusiast and an exceptional headmaster. Such potentially difficult innovations as the introduction of co-education he addressed in a most tactful manner and just made it work. I remember David very fondly.”

Mr McMurray, who died in East Lothian on June 7, is survived by his wife Toni and their three daughters.