Bell baxter lives section I former Pupils Contents

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Duncan Kervell

Duncan Kervell of Ladybank left on 20th June 1997 to take part in a 2 month scientific expedition to Malawi. He was part of a group of 6 undergraduates from Aberdeen University, and the expedition was organised in conjunction with the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi and Malawi University. The aim was to study the endangered Miombo Forest. Duncan was at that time entering his final year at Aberdeen where he was studying Soil Science. He was to act as quartermaster for the expedition and to be in charge of First Aid.

Anne Martin Kettles

Mrs Anne Brook entered BBS in 1937. She took an MA at St Andrews in 1946 and followed a career in teaching. She retired to Leven from the position of Assistant Head Teacher in Auchterderran Junior High School.

Derek Kibble

Derek Kibble was selected to represent Scottish Schools in the 100 metre Hurdles at the British Schools U-17 International in Blackpool in 2000.

Jennifer Kibble

Jennifer Kibble was a member of the under-15 Girls' Team that lifted the trophy in the 2005 Fife Cross Country Championships. Jennifer won the individual Gold Medal. Jennifer also won Gold in the Fife Schools’ Road Relay Championships held in the same year.

Gordon Kidd

Gordon Kidd (1941) died on 24th August 1995. He was a noted golfer and a former professional footballer with Dunfermline Athletic. He was captain of the New Golf Club, St. Andrews. While at school, he was a member of the 1st XV.

During National Service, he served in the Royal Engineers, and he was a Surveyor with Fife County Council. Later, he spent much of his working life abroad.

In 1967 he won the Duke of York Cup as the leading 36-hole qualifier for the Eden Trophy golf tournament, and twice, since he retired nine years ago, he had won the Fife Senior Championship. He is survived by his wife and one son.

David Killean

David Killean (1971) was appointed Assistant Principal of the Borders College in Hawick in 1997. Having trained as a Psychiatric Nurse, he lectures in Health Studies. He is now (2014) Vice Principal Quality and Innovation.

Dorothy Charlotte Helen King


BBS 1933-9

Mrs Dorothy Reid attended Bell Baxter School in the 1930s. She was born on 22nd January 1922 in Calcutta where her father, John Nicoll King, was a jute merchant.  She returned to the UK aboard the SS Manora when she was 3 years old.  The family set up home at 3 Hill Crescent, Wormit. Dorothy became a student of dentistry at Queens College St Andrews, based in Dundee, after leaving School, and received a Carnegie Grant in 1942-3. She met William John Reid, also a dental student, whilst at university and they married on 26th January 1946, settling in Dundee, at 9 Chalmers Street.

Dorothy was told she was unable to have children, so she and her husband adopted a boy, Billy, in 1953. She then conceived and gave birth to a daughter, Sally, in 1956. A second daughter followed in 1958.

Dorothy died on 30th March 1968 as a result of congestive heart failure.

Eliza King


BBS 1936-42 & 1953-76

A link which extended over forty years was broken on 6th September, 1976, when Miss Eliza King, Assistant Principal Teacher of Modern Languages, died suddenly in hospital.

After a very successful career as a pupil in Bell-Baxter from 1936 until 1942, Miss King continued her studies at Edinburgh University. In 1946, she was one of the first post-war students to spend a year in Paris as an Assistante. Her teaching career began in Beath High School, from which she was seconded for a year to study in a still war-torn Germany. In 1953 she returned to Bell-Baxter to join the staff of the Modern Languages Department.

Miss King combined in her character, to an unusual degree, great modesty and great strength. She had a deep sympathy with and understanding of all who were in trouble or in need. A lively and witty conversationalist, she could also be a most patient listener. She always had time for people. She had the inestimable gift of being able to laugh at herself. At all times, both in the class-room and out of it, she stood fearlessly for what she believed to be right. Throughout her life, she was sustained by a deep and abiding Christian faith, which she shared gladly but never self-righteously.

The school has lost a teacher who loved her work, and many people, young and old, have lost a wonderful friend.

Ronald King


BBS 1949-55

Ronnie King sent us a fulsome note of thanks for the efforts the committee makes in keeping the affairs of the FPA on an even keel following his attendance at the 2012 AGM. More importantly, he enclosed the following text for this archive. We are sure you will enjoy Ronnie’s slice of life at Bell Baxter and beyond.

My recent brush with Small Cell Carcinoma (currently in remission) had an unexpected side effect for me. I suddenly had the time and inclination to indulge in some genealogy. That led to thinking about my own childhood and I came to the conclusion Cupar 1937 to 1955 was a splendid place to spend one’s formative years. Schooling at Castlehill and Bell Baxter and the people I grew up with all had a profound effect that I had previously and unthinkingly taken for granted. Reading through the Bell Baxter Lives index of FPs stirred many memories. It was Bunty Berwick’s brother Peter whose open MG sports car I coveted that started me on 50 years of owning and tinkering with various models of the marque. It was Beth Bowden’s father’s contact by amateur radio with the brave Captain Carlsen of the stricken ship Flying Enterprise in 1952 that encouraged me to study for a Licence. I still operate VHF/UHF radio up here in the Highlands in RAYNET providing safety back-up for charity triathlon events in the more remote areas that other communications, mobile phones for example, have weak or no signal. Then there are the coincidences. Meeting Tom Lamb in the boss’s ante-room in the Customs and Excise office on appointment to London in 1966. Hearing news of Forbes Doig in Hartlepool in 1974. Sitting next to the minister, Mr Boyd, at our son’s wedding reception at Glengoyne Distillery in 2001 and discovering that Peggy Phillips (Mrs Ronnie Boyd) was his aunt. At a civic luncheon in La Baule in 2006 meeting a very elegant lady who told me she had known ‘Towmee Mewer’ and complimented me on my French! It was not made clear if we had the same Tommy Muir in mind … And that takes me to notable (for me) omissions. I can’t find mention of Mr Muir in the index although I note his retirement in 1966. There is also the girls tennis team Captain in 1952/3 S M Brown, who as a Prefect suggested I do some ’lines’ for a minor corridor infringement. As well as submitting meekly, I offered to do double the number if she would put in a good word for me with her young sister whom I was aspiring to invite to the cinema one Saturday evening. I wonder what became of these estimable ladies.

I had a bad/good introduction to Bell Baxter. After sitting the qualifying exam at Castlehill, I had to spend some time in hospital and thus arrived late for my first term in 1949. I was allocated to Class 1A1, but I struggled to catch up with my former classmates. I was grateful to Miss Robertson and Dr Dunlop for allowing me to drop back to the Prep Class that was formed in early 1950. This gave me the chance to adjust properly and also to have the benefit of a ’taster’ of Technical subjects. My grandchildren’s thanks go to Mr Wilson, Mr Meikle and Mr West for giving me a grounding in tech drawing, woodwork and metalwork. Thus I successfully crafted wheeled toys as well as Letitia the (rocking) Llama for them.

This 1949 and 1950 duality was to cause Mr Nicol some wonderment when he noticed that I had turned up for two Class Reunions in succeeding years. At the new 1950 term I was allocated to 1A1 again and there was no doubt various members of this new intake were the brightest and best! In retrospect, it is a privilege to be associated with all of these talented and successful people. As regards teachers, I concur with all of the approval shown by other FPs writing in these pages. I remember in Mr Lindsay’s English class I made some totally inappropriate remark in response to which he fixed me with a steely eye and said, in an American accent ‘Smile when you say that, pardner!’ A real John Wayne moment … I’m lucky he didn’t have a six-shooter.

Miss Reynard was my favourite and I enjoyed acting in her Drama group. One of her plays included the first school stage kiss - I think Margo Thomson was the unlucky recipient. We had the opportunity to attend the Easter School of Music Drama and Art in a hutted camp at Aberfoyle. The boys in our hut took turns at getting up early to go to the bakery in the village - returning with rolls hot from the oven. My other lasting memory of the camp school was of all the pupils joining in singing Abide With Me as our evening hymn. In later years, AmDram was a social door-opener and led to parts ranging from a papier-maché Shark in pantomime to a Cockney (!) Sergeant in See How They Run. I am reminded of two TV appearances. I auditioned, mostly by accident, for Crosswits which turned out to be a Pro-Am Crossword solving game-show. The host was a very genial Barry Cryer and the opposition was a remarkably quiet and retiring Andrew Sachs - quite unlike his Manuel character in Fawlty Towers. I partnered the totally charming Joan Bakewell whom I once heard described as ‘The Thinking Man’s Crumpet’. By hanging on to her coat-tails, I was rewarded with the prize of a long weekend in Budapest for my wife and me along with a modest amount of spending money. At the Buda hotel I was confronted by a dietician from Glasgow attending a conference there and accused of being the absconded husband of Isabel Blair in Take the High Road! Not guilty!!

The other occasion was to do with my MG sports car which figured in Wheelnuts on STV. If you come across a repeat of the programme, please switch me off - my piece was tongue-in-cheek and was not fit to have been transmitted!

Back to Bell Baxter - At the same time as sitting Highers I had competed in the Open Civil Service Examination and had come far enough up the first page of results to achieve my ambition of joining HM Customs and Excise. I was allowed to leave school before the end of the 1955 term and took up my appointment in Sheffield.

As well as learning the art of Government Accounting (balance to the penny twice a day) and Protecting The Revenue (licensing sales of tobacco, liquor et al.) it was a beautiful summer so I accompanied another young Scots chap in cycling a tandem (found in the office basement) around the hills and dales of Derbyshire. Early National Service call-up turned me into one of the ’boys in blue’. Suffice to say that I spent quite a lot of time in the Inner Hebrides with some very clever people and some pretty fancy (for its time) radar monitoring the activities of some even cleverer folks and tracking the results of their endeavours. Island social life for a group of young men remote from home centred mostly around beer, the (black and white) television set in the Airmen’s Mess and the Friday dances in the hall at the end of the village pier. As was the custom in those days the men were on one side of the hall and the women on the other. It was necessary to learn some Gaelic as the women would be looking across and making loud incomprehensible, but probably derogatory remarks about us to each other. However, there was never any friction and the islanders made us “RAFBOYS” very welcome.

On return to Customs and Excise, I was posted to Glasgow, James Watt Street tobacco warehouse. The aromatic smell of latakia tobacco still lingers in the building that currently trades as GTW Storage. I had passed an age barrier and so, after a period of general study, a written exam and stiff interview I was appointed an Officer of Customs and Excise. This is the plain clothes branch of the service (rather than the uniformed Preventive Officer grade). We each carried a Commission which was written in rather archaic terms and might well reflect that carried by our national Bard who joined the service in 1788. ‘To All to Whom These Presents Shall Come, Greeting …’ and (in my loose terms) it goes on to issue dire warnings of the consequences of carrying Officers off while aboard vessels and giving the named holder powers of entry and search where Revenue evasion is suspected.

I used this extreme aspect of the Commission only twice. In the first instance in London where I had chanced across a Caribbean gentleman who was manufacturing his national beverage. Unfortunately he was using a still complete with kettle and worm perched on top of planks on the bath in his flat. A unique part of the set-up was an old lead water pipe to carry the hot liquor vapour from the kettle to the worm. I got the feeling that the Magistrate was more alarmed by the danger to health than the danger to the Revenue when she sentenced him.

At a later date I became aware that a site worker in a bonded hydrocarbon oil warehouse i.e. a tank farm covering many acres, had found an unsecured bleed valve in a pipeline carrying petrol for export shipment. His habit was to visit the valve under the cover of darkness and fill up plastic containers with fuel. He had had a visit from his employer regarding theft. However, when I went to see him on the Revenue aspect, I insisted, amid protests, on examining the wooden shed in the garden and found several very large plastic containers of flammable liquid. The Revenue evasion paled into insignificance compared to the quantity stored in illegal containers with the resultant danger of fire. The containers and contents were seized and handed to the Police who took the case forward.

In normal everyday duties, I covered all of the aspects of Customs (Landing) and Bonded Warehouse work as well as the Excise - breweries, distilleries, beet sugar factories, small estates Probate and the all-pervading Purchase Tax. This last was a ’temporary’ war time tax introduced in 1941 and remained in force until the introduction of Value Added tax in 1973. The intention, I believe, was that VAT should be levied at ten percent on all transactions. However, politics and practicalities came to bear and so, at its inception there were three categories applied. Standard Rate, Zero Rate and Exempt.

Whereas Purchase Tax had been accounted and collected, in a rather gentlemanly manner, at the wholesale stage of supply, VAT took effect at every stage up to the consumer. Thus the farmer whose output was Zero Rated but used Standard Rated supplies in the course of his business had to be registered to the system so he could claim that tax back. On the other hand, the Funeral Director whose output was classified as Exempt was denied reclaim of taxed supplies to that aspect of his business. Embalming, however, was a taxable supply so he had to be registered on that account. On top of those complications and confusion across business nationwide, it transpired that the newly installed centralised and computerised value added tax collection and processing system wasn’t quite up to the task. Many Educational Visits to traders were required to set matters on an even keel.

At that time computer accounting (regarded as something of a ’dark art’ in my circles) was becoming more prevalent with very large business concerns. Since I seemed to know the difference between a one and a nothing (basic computer code) I was chosen to take on the status and responsibilities of a Computer Accounts Officer. I have to confess that this palled after some time and I was pleased to have the opportunity to transfer to that part of the Foreign Office which had been the Colonial Office, but was modernised to become The Overseas Development Administration (ODA).

Initially based in London and seeking to resolve Colonial Pensions problems I was amazed to find that I was working with a lady who was able, at last, to say without breaching Official Secrets that she had been one of the operatives at Bletchley Park during the war. Like many others she had never been allowed to mention any part of this crucial war-time service even to her parents. Another surprise, this time for a post-opener in Registry, was an amputated, mummified thumb dropping out of an envelope from the sub-continent. A conscience stricken relative explained that her grandfather had held a pensionable position and in order to renew and authenticate his pension entitlement he had to attach his thumb print to the annual claim form. Apparently the widow had seen no need to relinquish this source of income on his demise and had taken appropriate steps. The ruse had come to light on tidying granny’s estate.

I moved over, with a welcome return to Scotland, to the Manpower Division concerned with bi-lateral Aid. The first job was to arrange transfer of manuscript index-card details of aspiring or past overseas UK professionals to a computer database. When a government, recognised within the UK Aid framework, expressed a requirement for the services of a professional medical practitioner, engineer, architect, teacher etc. with specific qualifications, our country-led teams could interrogate the continually updated and finely detailed database to produce suitable candidates for consideration. Successful applicants were entered into an Overseas Service Aid Scheme (OSAS) contract with the appropriate overseas Government. ODA enhanced the local salary to better reflect the ’going rate’ in the UK and looked after the travel, leave, children’s education etc. arrangements where necessary, during the period of the contract. I think the interesting article from Aileen Fraser (née Paterson) A Pacific Idyll in Bell Baxter Essays is an example of an OSAS contract in operation. On the multi-lateral manpower aid i.e. United Nations requirements, our proven databases identified possible candidates for posts world-wide. A successful note on which to end.

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