A.J.S. 'Dougal' Greig

8th February 2013 at 00:00
The co-founder and first headteacher of Rannoch School has died, aged 90

Dougal Greig, who has died aged 90, was the idiosyncratic co-founder and first headteacher of Rannoch School. Largely as a result of his vision, charm and enthusiasm, it became one of the most successful private boarding schools in Scotland.

Situated on the remote south shore of Loch Rannoch, Perthshire, it was established within the fabric of Dall House, originally the seat of the Robertson clan chief. When Greig arrived there in the late 1950s, the building was in a dilapidated state. Having purchased the property from the Forestry Commission for #163;1,500, he and his co-founders, Pat Whitworth and John Fleming, began the massive task of refurbishment, carrying out much of the practical work themselves.

The school's ethos was enshrined in the principle of "in pursuit of all-round excellence" and based on the philosophies of Kurt Hahn, the German-born founder of Gordonstoun School. Like the Moray school, outdoor adventure would play an important role at Rannoch.

Alexander John Smart Greig, known throughout his adult life as Dougal, was born in Leith and educated at Edinburgh Academy. It was while in the RAF, during his war service, that he adopted the name Dougal. He had previously been known as "Jack" but discovered to his dismay that in the armed services every Scotsman was called Jock. Having used Dougal as a pen name when writing poetry, he decided that henceforth it would be the name by which he was known.

After the war, he went to Lincoln College, Oxford, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics. Graduating in 1949, he returned to Edinburgh and gained a teaching qualification at Moray House. He then taught history at Strathallan School in Perthshire, where he was a housemaster, before moving to a similar post at Gordonstoun.

In 1957, the young teacher and two Gordonstoun colleagues came up with the idea of starting their own school.

Rannoch opened for business in September, 1959, with Greig as headmaster. The first intake numbered 82 boys, many more than the 30 or 40 they had expected. By its second year, the school roll stood at 138; at the height of its popularity it had 300 pupils.

Rannoch, which eventually became co-educational, had an enviable academic record. It closed in 2002, but by then Greig had long retired because of ill health.

During his time in charge, he made sure that the school was not just a place of learning but also part of the community. It helped with mountain rescue operations and had its own ambulance and a lifeboat, serving Loch Rannoch.

Greig, who never married, was a lifelong poet, albeit unpublished. There are now plans by his family to publish his poetry posthumously.

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