Andrew Murray

27th April 2012 at 01:00
The North Pole marathon winner was schooled in Kenya and Scotland. But two teachers here left him inspired and able to be patient with himself

I was home-schooled in Kenya and went to one of the local nurseries for the early part of my education. My parents moved out to Chogoria - a tiny wee village out in the sticks - when I was two years old, to work as medical missionaries. My dad worked as a GP in Scotland but when we were out there, he just did everything. Mum, who is also a GP, did the same thing when she wasn't looking after the three of us.

In terms of my education I had the best of both worlds really. At the local school we were taught the local language, maths and English and then mum taught us a bit about Britain and history.

A lot of my education was outdoors in fields, learning about nature and geography, playing football and running around - it was quite idyllic really. There was a lot of learning by doing things and interacting with the environment rather than being cooped up in a classroom.

We came back when I was about eight-and-a-half, and it was three days before the Lockerbie disaster in 1988. I adapted a bit better than my brother, who got sent home from school one day for refusing to wear shoes.

My education taught me two things. One was to challenge myself to do the best I could and the other to have some patience with myself. Mrs Hutton, my physics teacher at George Heriot's School, was good at that. She was an inspirational person and teacher.

I was terrible at physics and at the time was really frustrated that I just could not get it, but no matter how bad I was, she reassured me and persuaded me to try hard and stick with it. It took a lot of dedication on her part but eventually I got reasonable grades. That has stuck with me. It is so important to challenge and push yourself and get the best results you are capable of.

Mr Broadfoot was my chemistry teacher. He had a great sense of humour. I don't think anybody really looked forward to chemistry, but his personality made it fun. He was a bit of a mad scientist and was always setting up these crazy experiments.

I liked chemistry a bit more than physics, because you could make things explode, but my best subjects at school were English and history. You learn a lot from your own personal experience, though, and what your parents teach you. I was inspired to go into medicine by my dad and the passion he had for making folk better - and mum as well.

I looked completely different from the Kenyan children - unsurprisingly, I was the only ginger-haired kid there - but we played the same games, fell out the same trees and got on really well.

Throughout school I really enjoyed it. I tried hard enough to get reasonable results and I enjoyed the extra-curricular stuff. I have always played lots of sports - football, tennis, squash, cricket - and been reasonably active. That was something mum drilled into us because that was what she did herself. And in Kenya, walking or running places was the norm. You didn't drive there unless you were wanting to cover a significant distance.

Kenyan runners have obviously won everything from marathons to shorter distances. That might be because running is normal or it could be a genetic thing. Then, of course, there is the old wives' tale that Kenyan runners are descended from cattle rustlers. Whatever the case, it's good to get active and run around.

Andrew Murray was appointed in January by the Scottish government to promote the importance of physical activity. He was talking to Emma Seith


Born: Aberdeen, 1980

Education: Home-schooled in Kenya; South Morningside Primary; George Heriot's School - both in Edinburgh; medical degree, University of Aberdeen

Career: Edinburgh GP and Scotland's physical activity champion.

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