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Poignant day at Lossiemouth High as depute head Bob Drysdale bows out after 43 years devoted to school

By Lorna Thompson

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LOSSIEMOUTH High today bids farewell to its "one of a kind" depute headteacher who has devoted more than four decades to the school.

Bob Drysdale has been a bedrock figure at Lossiemouth High School for exactly 43 years. Over that time he has seen three school building changes and six head teachers in place.

It has been a poignant week for the school community as Bob clears his desk to embark on his well-earned retirement.

Headteacher Janice Simpson said her outgoing colleague leaves a "tremendous legacy".

Bob (69), who was brought up in Dunfermline, never wanted to be anything other than a teacher. Early in his career he began writing assessments and courses for pupils, and as a result has also notched up 43 years serving as a Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) appointee.

The first in his family to go to university, Bob taught in Germany for a year after graduating in modern languages from St Andrews. He returned to Scotland to earn a teaching qualification at Jordanhill, in Glasgow.

He said: "Armed with that, I intended to go back to Germany to work, but it didn't quite work out like that. I met Ann – and from first kiss to proposal took 19 days."

Bob arrived at Lossiemouth in September 1978 as assistant principal teacher of modern languages following spells at Oban High and then Dunoon Grammar, where he worked alongside his soon-to-be-wife Ann, also a modern languages teacher.

Promoted to Lossiemouth High's principal teacher of modern languages in 1981, Bob then moved into leadership as depute headteacher in 1994.

"I never imagined that 27 years later I would still be at Lossiemouth High School – and in this magnificent new building," he said.

"Sometimes I feel have I overstayed my welcome – I'm told not, which is very kind. I would still like to be able to contribute to education in Moray in some way. But it seems a good time to go."

(From left) acting deputy head teacher Louise Petrie, head teacher Janice Simpson, and deputy head teacher Lynne Weir with Bob Drysdale as he retires from Lossiemouth High School after 43 years. Picture: Becky Saunderson.
(From left) acting deputy head teacher Louise Petrie, head teacher Janice Simpson, and deputy head teacher Lynne Weir with Bob Drysdale as he retires from Lossiemouth High School after 43 years. Picture: Becky Saunderson.

The strength of the school community took on powerful meaning for Bob when his beloved Ann was diagnosed with incurable bone marrow cancer in 2005.

Bob said: "This school has been absolutely wonderful. It's been like a family.

"The family of the school wrapped its arms around us and looked after us in the years Ann and I had left together – seven years and nine months.

"She died on August 24, 2013, and one of the last things she said to me was, 'Don't forget to retire'.

"She knew my love for this place.

"For a long time I couldn't contemplate retirement. There was more than enough to keep me occupied here. But time does heal."

Some of the school's former headteachers were among those to attend a leaving dinner for Bob this week.

Bob added: "I've been quite emotional over the last few days at some of the things that have been said about me.

"I was completely bowled over when a sixth-year pupil came up to me and asked if it was true I was leaving. I said yes and she said, 'I don't want you to go'. I said thank you very much, that's really nice – but I am."

He added: "It's been a fantastic experience. I never wanted to be anything other than a teacher, partly because of the enthusiasm of individual teachers and the passion that two of them in particular passed on to me for German. It is my love."

Germany will be first stop for Bob on his retirement journey.

Mrs Simpson has worked alongside Bob for the last three years. She said: "When it comes to dedication, perseverance and resilience, Bob would have the gold medal for 43 years devoted to Lossiemouth High School.

"He is a true gentleman, a dear and valued colleague and also a friend, and he leaves a tremendous legacy here.

"His knowledge is limitless and it does feel as if our right arm is being cut off. But he's not leaving us in the lurch. He's left us with lots of help sheets and little videos that he's made so that we'll always be able to find out how to do things that he's done effortlessly for so many years.

"He's going to be sorely missed. He's one of a kind, and he leaves with our very best wishes.

"He loves to travel and we wish him many, many years of happy travelling."

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