Published: 20/10/2017 11:54 - Updated: 20/10/2017 12:04

Memorial planned for Elgin High School



elgin high
The cherry trees have grown enormously since this photo was taken in 1981


IDEAS are being invited for what to do with the wood from Elgin High School’s cherry trees.

The two trees were just tiny saplings when the current building opened in 1978.

Over the course of the next four decades, however, they have grown 20ft tall, while continually blossoming each Spring term.

Their roots are now far too extensive for them to be replanted.

So, with staff and pupils preparing to move to the brand new £20million school building next door, both trees are due to felled next week.

However a group of people with connections to the school are now wanting to create something which will act as some sort of memorial to the past.

Jeff Dugdale, who was among the original batch of teachers at Elgin High, said: "There were problems with the flat roof almost from day one and the central heating system wasn’t up to much.

"But the school was still a great place to work. It understood its pupils.

"The cherry trees were quite iconic in their way. We think it would be nice to make something - maybe a plaque or a lectern - out of their wood."

Jeff worked at Elgin High for 30 years until he retired in 2008, serving as its deputy head, assistant rector and head of English.

But Jeff enjoyed the job so much he then went back to work as a supply teacher, taking lessons at Milnes, Buckie, Elgin Academy and Lossiemouth, until finally calling it a day last year.

He is now busy at work writing a book about his experiences at Elgin High.

Its title, The Pigeon Post Years, is a reference to the school newspaper, of which 171 editions were produced.

He said: "There were some real characters working and studying there, and there are some pretty funny stories connected to Elgin High.

"The book is going to be a light-hearted look back at it all.

"It’s all firmly in my head, it’s just a question of writing it now. I’m on chapter seven out of 21, and the aim will be to have it finished in time for the new school year."

Jeff’s wife, Eve Archer, who is a graphic artist, will be doing the book illustrations.

Jeff’s stepson, Stuart, became a familiar face on TV last year, when he became a finalist on Masterchef.

But his daughter, Kezia, is even better known, having been the leader of the Scottish Labour Party until her resignation last month.

The 68-year-old was also partly responsible, just over a decade ago, for hiring the school’s current head, Hugh McCulloch, as a biology teacher.

The two cherry trees, which stand in the quadrangle of Elgin High, are being cut down in advance of the demolition of the whole 1970s building.

By Spring next year the site will have been levelled and turned into playing fields.

The trees are being felled by former Elgin High pupil Ewan Mellis who is a professional forester.

In addition, former technical teacher John Farquhar has agreed to store them in the garage of his Bishopmill house for a couple of years.

This will allow their wood to dry out enough so it can be fashioned into something.

Suggestions about what should be created can be made on Facebook. Go to ‘Former Elgin High School Students’.

Pictured back in 1981 are  on the front row (from left): Mrs Swain, Mrs Stewart, Mrs Drysdale, Mr Hope, Mrs Thain, Mrs Cameron and Miss Ross    

2nd (partial) row: Miss Campbell, Mrs Ledingham and Miss Stanley

3rd (partial) row: Mrs McPherson, Mrs Meisner, Mrs Dugdale (all 3 partially obscured), Miss Duncan, M ?. M?, Mr Walker, Mr Allan, Mr Polson, Mr Anderson, Mr Macleod and Mr Fyfe

4th row: Mr I Hamilton, Mrs McCalman, Mrs Clark, Miss Blease, Mrs Hamilton, Miss Wasilenska, Mrs Gordon, Mr Finnie, Mr Urquhart, Mr Binnie and Mr Carstairs.

Back row: Mr J. Hamilton, Mrs Reid, Mr G. MacKenzie (Sen Janitor) Mr Dugdale, Mr Jackson, Mr A. McKenzie, Mr Ledingham, Mr Leslie, Mr Cameron and Mr McNeill.



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