Covid Schola Regia 1

Following the success of the first Covid Schola Regia article last year, RHS Club President Ian R C Cowie once again put his sound and video skills to the fore and created an update from the School. Ian says “Given the success of last year’s Covid Schola Regia, it made sense to produce an update, just to show how things progressed in the second year of the pandemic”. Covid Schola Regia 1 is now available. On a positive note post recording the interviews the school now has a green light to go ahead with the traditional Annual  Prize Giving and Leaving Ceremony, the first since 2019 !

The Cycling Souters

Gordon Hunter and Iwan Tukalo, rugby internationals and RHS alumni of 1976 and 1979 respectively made fresh news in February as part the Cycling Souters, who did themselves and Selkirk RFC proud with their 515 mile bike ride to Cardiff, arriving bang on schedule on Saturday morning in time for the Wales versus Scotland 6 nations match on Saturday 12th February.

Gordon Hunter (extreme left) and Iwan Tukalo (thrid from left) at Cardiff Castle on Saturday 12th February

The Souters cyclists (and support team) were part of a 105-strong group who rode from BT Murrayfield to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in just over 48 hours, in the process raising over £250,000 for Doddie’s Weir’s MND charity, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

The Border Telegraph sported an extensive article on the Cycling Souters success

Having set an original fund-raising target of £5,000, over the course of the ride the Cycling Souters were astonished to see funds donated by friends, family and sponsors rocket to over £20,000.

Anyone wishing to sponsor the Cycling Souters, and the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, can do so by visiting (where you will see some amazing photos from the journey)


Edinburgh Revisited

Saturday 15th January saw the opening of an exhibition at the Open Eye gallery in Edinburgh featuring ‘Edinburgh Revisited’, a splendid lavishly illustrated volume of photographs and poetry by RHS 1976 alumni Gordon Hunter and Don Ledingham. Better known in their early years as rugby players – both played for the Scottish schoolboys against France in 1976, and Gordon famously went on to be a member of the 1984 Grand Slam side, winning four caps before injury prevailed.

The Old Royal High and New Edinburgh

Photographic prints from the book were on view and on sale at the exhibition, which continued until February 5th. Gordon and Don were recently interviewed for ‘The Afternoon Show’ by BBC Radio Scotland’s Grant Stott. All proceeds from the sales of prints and books will go to Leuchie House, a national respite centre, and ‘500 Miles‘, a charity which helps people with mobility difficulties. Copies of the book can be purchased via the Edinburgh Revisited website. The image gallery shown below includes images from the book and from the appointed charities. More info. in FP Authors


The First Minister’s Christmas card

The BBC News website announced recently that the Scottish First Minister’s 2021 Christmas card had been created by Emily Hogarth (leaving year 2003) who was the subject of one of our recently featured FP biographies. You can see a copy of the Christmas card here

Click for a full sized image

As explained in the BBC article, “The red and white design shows well-known structures including the Finnieston Crane and SEC Armadillo venue in Glasgow, and the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. It also features thistles and a Charles Rennie Mackintosh-style rose. The design has personal links to the first minister too, as her official residence Bute House in the Scottish capital is included in the work”. Previous year’s cards have featured work by artists including Harry Benson and Annie Lennox.

Many congratulations to Emily for this prestigious commission.


Christmas 2021 Newsletter

A Christmas newsletter has been sent to all Former Pupils on our email database.

We are very pleased that the last three School Captains have all sent individual messages, which can be seen here, or by clicking on the image on the right. Longer versions of their individual messages can be seen here.

Other items in the newsletter include the 2021 School Remembrance service, COVID Schola Regia, and the 250th birthday celebration for Sir Walter Scott (which is the next article on this page). If you are reading this notice, and have not received your copy of the newsletter, please contact us.

A Christmas card has been sent separately.


Sir Walter Scott 250th anniversary

The 1932 Schola Regia edition, marking the Centenary of Sir Walter Scott’s death

The great Man’s 250th birthday was celebrated (a little late) on Saturday 30th October, with a ‘National Service of Thanksgiving for his life and work‘ in St Giles Cathedral, followed by a procession from Parliament Square to the Scott Monument.

The Order of Service was described in a splendid souvenir programme, which sadly we do not have permission to reproduce.

The following are some of the performed components:

  • La donna del lago from The lady of the Lake (1810) sung by a Scottish Opera soprano
  • The Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto VI (1805)
  • Ave Maria, composed in 1825 as part of songs derived from The Lady of the Lake
  • The Journal of Sir Walter Scott for 22nd January, 1826 – an extract
  • The Heart of Midlothian (1818): Jeanie Deans addresses Queen Caroline
  • Jock of Hazeldean, played as a duet
  • Bonnie Dundee, from ‘Sir Walter’s Verse’, read, then sung with the chorus by the congregation

The school was represented by Head of Biology Gordon Rutter (doubling up in his capacity as Officer to the Convenery of the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh), along with RHS Club President Ian R C Cowie and Alastair Allanach. Following the service, these gentlemen were privileged to join the procession to The Scott Monument, via Parliament Square, The Mound, Galleries Precinct and Princess Street Gardens. The photo gallery below shows some of the scenes. Click on any of the images to enable a full-screen slideshow.

A video of the the procession can be seen here. Many thanks to Fraser Wright for spotting the articles and posting them on the RHS Alumni Club on LinkedIn.


Paul Chambers

The sad news has been announced that Depute Rector Paul Chambers lost his long battle with cancer at the age of just 48 on 25th September.

Paul was a very dedicated Hearts supporter, and there was a one minute clap at the 48th minute of the Hearts game last week which apparently was incredible. His funeral was held at Mortonhall Crematorium on Friday October 15th, when a very large audience heard some fine tributes from family and friends.

Paul CHAMBERS Obituary – Edinburgh, Midlothian | Edinburgh News (

Paul Chambers: Tribute to ‘truly inspirational’ Royal High School teacher who died after cancer battle | Edinburgh News (

An obituary will be published here shortly


FP chosen for Tokyo Olympics Rugby Sevens squad

Ross McCann (leaving year 2014) was selected for the GB rugby sevens side in the Tokyo Olympics – and came within a few minutes of winning a bronze medal with the team, being narrowly beaten by Argentina in the semi-final playoff. Ross is the older brother of Ali, a member of this year’s phenomenally successful St Johnstone football side. Read the Courier’s report here.

Pete Clark asked who was the last RHS Olympian – the suggestion is Pringle Fisher, selected for the GB basketball squad at the 1960 Rome Olympics


Two RHS former pupils honoured in the 2021 Queens Birthday Honours List.

Anne Richards becomes a Dame, and John Kay is Knighted. Anne delivered the Former Pupil’s address at the 2018 Prize Giving, while John did the same in 2009. More information to follow soon, but in the meantime you can see Anne being interviewed at the 2018 Barnton 50th Anniversary Dinner at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh

Anne Helen RICHARDS, C.V.O., C.B.E., F.R.S.E. For services to Financial Services, to Women, to Education and to Science

Professor John Anderson KAY, C.B.E., F.B.A., F.R.S.E., Economist. For services to Economics, to Finance and to Business.  


Sadly, the first news article in our new website is the announcement that Royal High Music legend Dr John Murray passed away at his home in Le Gouzot in France on Monday 19th April. The message distributed to the wider Royal High School Community read as follows:

“The Royal High School Club is sad to announce the death of Dr John Murray.    John, who was aged 77, died suddenly at home on Monday 19th April in Le Gouzot, France.     His funeral has already taken place.

John pictured on 5th October 2018 at the Barnton 50th anniversary dinner at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh. This photo is a still image from his video interview conducted by Tom Bacciarelli

John arrived at the Royal High in 1971 as Principal Teacher of Music after the death of Bill Bowie, becoming Assistant Rector in 1979, then Depute Rector in 1985, a position he held until his retirement in 2003.    He was also Acting Rector in 1998. John will forever be associated with the School music trips, the first of which was to Florence in 1975, then many more to Italy and Munich.    He also made a major contribution to School sports, especially rugby.

In 1997, his volume ‘A History of the Royal High School’ was published and remains the enduring hardback history of the Royal High School to this day.

We feel sure that given a relaxation in Covid restrictions, some form of celebration of John’s life will be held in due course, and the Royal High School Club will consider it a privilege to be part of it”.


Fortunately, we have some great recorded memories of John, including the 2018 Interview at Dynamic Earth, his speech at the RHS 2006 London Club dinner, and Shona Thomson’s 2003 article about his choir-conducting methods. Finally (for the moment) we have a few documents and photographs… There also a number of Tributes shown following the gallery.


Click any image in the gallery to enable a fullscreen slideshow


The following are some of the memories of John which have been recorded in the past few days…

He was hugely influential in our formative years, certainly made me understand how much fun music could be.   Polly Smith

“Gratefully remembering Uncle John, and thinking of Auntie Joan, Rachel & Ben — with much love from many FPs and KTs.”    John changed so many lives.   In amongst the sadness and the memories, I can’t help picturing him grinning at the funeral music: Brahms & Liszt…   I’ll raise a glass to that, and him, this evening.   Ken Thomson

He was a massive influence in the lives of all of us, and no doubt we can eventually figure out some suitable way of marking his passing.    Probably involving some music, some eating and some drinking.  Howard Duthie

He was a musical legend at Royal High.   Irene Clouston

My time at the RHS was a magical transformation for which I owe John an eternal debt of gratitude. Although I do remember him saying, after I showed him some of my first attempts at composition, “why does anybody write that rubbish?”   Fergus Currie

I have been thinking of all the memories – wonderfully fond memories as you say. I’ll keep on cherishing those. What a wonderful person he was.   Janet McDonald

So sorry to hear this news.  I wouldn’t have enjoyed High School and made as many friends without the Music Dept.  John Murray was such a natural at getting us to engage in music and perform on stage. I have lots of happy memories of us all down at his mill house and on our music trips abroad.    Eleanor Mitchell

John’s enthusiasm, expressed as ‘music is for everyone’ certainly was legendary especially when it came to the school trips to Munich and various parts of Italy.    It was quite something to see and hear the ‘rugby boys’ singing the bass parts of Vivaldi’s Gloria and other various pieces we had learned for the tours with great gusto.      June Nelson

John Murray and the music department at RHS were both inspirational and influential to many of us, with a legacy that has extended far beyond our school days.   I have fond memories of the people and the journey that started with a common musical interest.    We still talk about the trips to Munich and Florence although they almost seem to belong to a bygone age. I shall raise a glass to John in memory.   Adrian Day

So many of my fondest memories of school included this guy! Singing Christmas carols, touring Tuscany, prize-giving. He left his mark – the epitome of an inspiring teacher.    Beverley Hope

Very sad news indeed, he was there throughout my 6 years at the school. Michael Rutherford

An exceptional and inspiring colleague 1974-78, and a lifelong friend thereafter. Vivid memories of the first Florence trips, “The Mikado”, “Ruddigore” and much else. Rather less light and laughter in a world without John.     Dave Thornton

Heartfelt sympathies to the family of Dr John Murray. His presence around the school was unrivalled, never too busy to come and watch the 1st XV. I will never forget the smile on his face when we beat Glasgow Academy in 2003.     Niall Statham

I would like to add something to the condolences for Mr Murray.   He passed away recently not remembering me and without any idea what fundamental influence his engagement in setting up the Munich & Edinburgh school choir friendship had on my life.   My love for Scotland, my desire to live and work abroad, my understanding of what Europe can be at its best and in a way my personal development towards an independent human being have been kicked off by this man’s ideas and actions. I will never forget how curious, empowered and free I felt during my first choir visit to Edinburgh in 1992.    I was 14 then.     Goodbye, Mr Murray.   What a great teacher you were. It was an honour to be shouted at by you for not paying attention to the magnificence of Mozart.    My deepest sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of this great man.   Best regards from Munich.  Claudia Urschbach (exchange student 1991-1995).

I am so sorry to hear this news. And my heart goes out to Dr Murray’s wife and children. We visited John and his wife a few years ago in France, when Gabriel was just a baby and we had such a lovely afternoon in their beautiful home. He will forever be an influence in my life – a guiding force and his love of music, rugby and good beer had an impact on all of us who went on the choir trips. He was firm but fair, a strong presence at RHS but once one got to know him, very funny, caring and kind. Rosie Kay

I arrived as a pupil at the school in Barnton at the same time as John Murray arrived in the music department. He was our form tutor and introduced himself along the lines of “I’m six foot one, I play rugby and I weigh sixteen stone so don’t mess me around.” We didn’t.   I was one of those who travelled to Florence in 1975 and still remember eating pizza and then smuggling bottles of red wine back to the monastery we stayed in during our week there. We had a number of very talented young musicians in our group and I remember the local people enjoying the concerts we gave.   RIP John.    Mike Whittaker


If you would like to add a tribute, please click here, and add your message. If you would like to contact Joan Murray personally, please advise us.