I have a poor memory, but for which this might be longer. Joining Bell-Baxter in September 1956 was daunting, being in a very small intake from Falkland, and finding a lot of classmates had already bonded for some time in a mysterious organisation – the ‘Prep Class’. Fortunately, other disabilities such as being useless at sport and painfully shy, especially around girls, were shared by some others, so school life got to be quite fun. Some teachers left lasting impressions on me, for example the awesomely active Miss Dymock. I do appreciate the worthy efforts on the FPA eboard, but I have to admit the notice of the 2011 reunion of the Class of ‘56 reminded me of Mr Rodger’s dictum, ‘Red and green should never be seen except on an Irish sausage.’
The system for getting into University was a bit less organised in those days. Somehow I got into St. Andrews University without seriously thinking whether that was what I wanted. After backing away from unavoidable bits of Physics and Applied Maths, I got a degree in Maths and Statistics, interrupted by playing golf ~ very badly. An MSc in Statistics from Aberystwyth was what got me really interested, and provided the opening to my career.
I joined the ‘Applied Statistics’ Department at Reading University hoping to pick up enough practical knowledge to get a ‘real job’ after maybe three years, a plan never realised as I retired from Reading in 2006. The job gradually changed: I began as a chalk-and-talk lecturer, and still recall vividly an awful class during my first year of teaching when I suddenly remembered that I had been too shy ever to successfully complete a speech at BBHS Debating Society. How had I ever got into a job where every day involved speaking to an audience? Luckily, by the time I finished silently writing a complicated equation on the board the moment passed, and I talked on for many more years. With my first wife, Jennifer Seath (BBHS, ‘58 intake) I was fortunate to spend two years 1975-77 in Sri Lanka on a scheme run by the British Council. Suddenly from being one of the youngsters, I had lots of responsibilities and became an ‘expert’ ~ a word I have never since been able to take seriously!
Fortunate to have a job to come back to, I found colleagues with similar experiences, and we gradually evolved training courses designed to meet real needs of people from developing countries. Trying to apply academic statistics in the real world led to other consultancies, and these shared interests gradually evolved into the ‘Statistical Services Centre’ ~ essentially a small consulting company within the University. I became its first Director for about 18 years. It never fitted comfortably into University structures, but as it makes a contribution to central funds, I’m pleased to say it is still there now (2011). That provided many opportunities for interesting contacts, and numerous trips to about 20 countries in Africa and Asia ~ most frequently Malawi, most strikingly Bhutan ~ when the work was in the realm of ‘international development’, as well as less romantic-sounding destinations, such as landfill sites, and underground lecture rooms in Coventry.
My first marriage ended in 1988. Our son is a hospital pharmacist, and our daughter works in a publishing company. I remarried in 1991 to a close colleague Savitri, originally from Sri Lanka. In retirement life involves quiet pursuits such as a bit of gardening interrupted by playing golf once again ~ still very badly, and by occasional visits to or from Sri Lankan family. Having lived in Reading for more than 40 years, I am happily settled here.
Jennifer Wilson of Cupar, who completed 6th year at the end of the 1993-4 session, and went on to study Sciences at Glasgow University, was awarded a scholarship of £500 from the University as one of the top 50 students in the 1994 intake. Jennifer graduated in 1998 with first class honours in Medicinal Chemistry and was awarded the Mackay Smith Prize for her performance in her final year exams.
Jennifer Wilson died in hospital following a long illness. She was 17 years old. Jennifer was a Prefect and had hoped to go to Art College. She was the oldest daughter of 2 FPs, Sylvia (née Cairns) and Christopher Wilson. She had suffered from an extremely rare form of ovarian cancer. She is survived also by a younger brother and sister.
Mrs Jessie Christie (née Wilson) (1946) died on 31st May 1998 in Kirkcaldy, after several months of illness. Jessie's career was spent in catering and hotel management. She was the sister of Dr Edith Pink.
JohnWilson (1929) died at the end of November 1998 in Newburgh. He worked with Tayside Floor Covering before the war, during which he served with the Pioneer Corps and with REME. After the war he returned to the linoleum factory, where he became production manager. He had many interests, including bee-keeping and fruit-tree pruning and grafting, and he contributed much to the community by his work in the Church, as well as by his work for Age Concern and the environment.
John Wilson (around 1940) died suddenly at the beginning of January 1995. He started his journalistic career with the Fife Herald in 1943, emigrated to Canada in 1957, and became eventually TV Times editor with the Leader Post in Regina, retiring in 1994. He was well known as a member of the Rythmaires Dance Band.
Katie Wilson was chosen to represent the Rotary Club of the Howe of Fife at Euroscola 2009. She was in Strasbourg from 23rd to 27th February during which time she attended the Euroscola debate in the European Parliament.