Royal legacy for fisherfolk

20th August 2004 at 01:00
In a remarkable gesture, a former harbourmaster has left pound;1.8 million to Gordonstoun, "the royals' school" - on condition it funds scholarships for youngsters from fishing families.

William Wood, who died aged 71 last year, has astonished Gordonstoun staff by donating his entire estate to its scholarship fund. The money will fund five to 10 places a year at the pound;20,000-a-year boarding school.

Mark Pyper, Gordonstoun's headteacher, said that the money was the largest single donation to Gordonstoun. "It is wonderful thing to do and will help young people who would not be able to have such an education otherwise," Mr Pyper said.

In his will, Mr Wood stated that children of fishing families from the county of Banff should be given preference for the scholarships. Mr Wood, from Portknockie in Buckie, attended Gordonstoun for two years in the 1940s, with his brother. The pair were able to attend thanks to a scholarship programme.

They studied at Gordonstoun in 1948 and 1949, when it had a specialised nautical department. On leaving the school, Mr Wood joined the Merchant Navy, where he served for 40 years and rose to the rank of master. When he retired, he became harbourmaster at Buckie, a post he left around six years ago.

Mr Pyper said Mr Wood had amassed his fortune by investing in stocks and bonds during his time at sea. "He was a very private man who has left all that he had, all that he accumulated," he said. "I think it is a lovely thing to do."

He added that the school, which is attended by around 450 pupils, would shortly be making efforts to recruit pupils from fishing families in the north-east of Scotland.

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