18th July 2008 at 01:00
Stewart Gilmour, depute headteacher of St Machar Academy in Aberdeen, died on June 26, aged 48, after being diagnosed with cancer just four days previously
Stewart Gilmour, depute headteacher of St Machar Academy in Aberdeen, died on June 26, aged 48, after being diagnosed with cancer just four days previously.

A pupil of Garnock Academy, he gained a diploma in music teaching at Aberdeen College of Education, graduating with distinction in teaching practice and academic subjects. He completed a Master of Education degree in 2001.

Stewart first taught in Dunoon Grammar and was appointed, aged 25, as principal teacher of music in 1985 to the then Powis Academy, Aberdeen. Under his leadership music was a vibrant, successful department where pupils engaged with the subject and achieved great success. He valued the pupils as individuals and was prepared to work with them, no matter their ability or attitude. Stewart had high expectations and encouraged children to do their very best. He ran lunchtime clubs, organised a number of school trips and was the musical director of five excellent school shows.

Stewart and I, and one or two others in St Machar, must be among the very few in Scotland who have been careless enough to be involved in two different mergers of a secondary school - with Hilton Academy, in 1988, and with Linksfield Academy, in 2002. Moving boxes of books or musical instruments is easy, but creating an ethos where the all-important human relationships can be formed is challenging. A lot of intense work was needed to do that, and highly-developed interpersonal skills were crucial.

Stewart had these in abundance. He was always very reasonable, always courteous, but not afraid to put forward difficult points to parents, pupils or staff. He believed in equal opportunity for all and actively promoted fairness. He was a man of integrity. His move to senior management in 1999 was well deserved.

He believed passionately in education and was very much for change if it improved learning and teaching, and opportunities for pupils. He valued enterprise in the curriculum and had set up links with a number of industry partners. He made a tremendous contribution to the lives of so many St Machar pupils.

Stewart told us he wanted to be remembered as "an ordinary guy who always did things to the best of his ability and who wanted to get the job done". That was an understatement - Stewart achieved so much during his teaching career and in his life, and he made a real difference.

He had wide musical interests and was a member of Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra and Granite City Brass. He was a committed Christian and worked extensively for his church.

Above all, Stewart was a family man and was the proud father of five children. His wife, Kay, is our principal teacher of music. Stewart will be very sadly missed by us all.

Isabel McIntyre, headteacher, St Machar Academy.

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