Inspirational teacher bids a final farewell

Retiring PE teacher David Douglas, who leaves a great sporting legacy behind him at Berwickshire High, says it’s the pupils he’ll miss the most.

The head of the faculty for health and well being at the school retired after 31 years of service when pupils broke up for the summer last week.

David Douglas getting set to hang up his whistle retiring from BHS

David Douglas getting set to hang up his whistle retiring from BHS

Although he is looking forward to devoting more time to other things, such as his role as chair of the Berwickshire Sports Council and as member of Reston concert band, it was with a heavy heart that David tidied up the PE equipment for the last time.

“I’ll miss the kids the most,” he admitted.

“They’re the reason why I wanted to be a PE teacher. I wanted to bring enjoyment and encouragement to youngsters.

“Having the pupils here come up and say good luck and give me cards and gifts has had me choked.

“Berwickshire High is a great school with fantastic kids.”

David has been highly thought-of by both his pupils and the local community for a long time, but he very nearly didn’t make it as a PE teacher due to a niggling back injury.

“Having been a pupil at Berwickshire High taught by the well-remembered Archie McCulloch, I knew I wanted to be a PE teacher,” he explained.

“I applied to study at the Scottish School of Physical Education at Jordan Hill, but I wasn’t accepted as they felt my back wouldn’t withstand the physical side of things.

“So I worked in the Bank of Scotland in Kelso and Berwick for a few years before trying again.”

David’s first teaching post was at Dalkeith High School and before switching to Berwickshire High he had a spell at Eyemouth.

“I arrived at BHS as assistant head of PE under Peter Gallacher and then stepped up when he left,” he said.

Many former pupils have been quick to pass on their best wishes to David on the occasion of his retirement, and it’s no surprise as he has helped to nurture a crop of fine athletes, many who have competed at national and even international level.

Among them was renowned athlete Chris Stewart. “He broke every record in the school record books,” David reminisced. “And he went on to captain the GB Junior Olympic squad in Australia.

“Now there’s young Freddie Rooke, who’s re-writing the record books and Katie Brown who did the same for the girls. I’ve worked alongside some fantastic coaches like Michael Lamb and Pete Hardie, who have produced some great 
talent.

“At one point there were 
seven lads from the school in the South of Scotland under-15s rugby team and there’s been various girls chosen to represent Scotland at hockey.”

David cited the move to the new Berwickshire High building in 2009 as one of the biggest changes during his reign as head of faculty. But although the bricks and mortar may have changed, the high regard in which he has always been held by his students has not.

When pupils paid tribute to him last week the word “inspiration” cropped up multiple times, while others said how much he’d helped them develop their sporting skills.

“When I hit 50 I wondered how much longer I could go on,” David added. “I felt like a father figure to the kids but at 64 I think I could be more of a grandfather figure to them!

“I feel the time is right but it’s really hard to say goodbye. My 31 years have gone by so quickly.”