Ronald Drummond will say goodbye to Berwickshire High School when pupils break for summer this week, ending a 46 year connection.
Mr Drummond started his long association with Berwickshire High School as a pupil in 1966, staying until his sixth year in 1972. Travelling from Whitsome each day, he enjoyed school as a pupil.
Some of his fondest memories relate to performing and he participated in his first school show ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ in 1968 with his first musical, ‘Iolanthe’ in the following year.
In S6 his solo tenor voice, which has remained a key strength, gained a ‘First’ at the Borders Music Festival.
On August 25, 1975, Mr Drummond started his working life as a music teacher at the school having completed his three year degree course.
He worked alongside the then Principal Teacher of Music, Robert Lennox, and committed himself to the work of the department. In those early years he led a junior choir, some 100 pupils strong, visiting local churches to perform.
In 1977 he formed a group called Double Five which consisted of ten singers. This particular group was to gain great popularity and released an LP as well as performing in the lofty surroundings of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Coldingham Priory and on Border Television. The group ‘Sweet Sixteen’ followed the disbanding of ‘Double Five’ and all the while Ronald was leading a school choir.
He switched tack and became acting principal guidance teacher in 1985, principal guidance teacher in 2003 and went full time in this role in 2008, a position that he has held right through to his retirement.
He said that moving into guidance was the best move of his career.
“That’s where you really get to know the kids, inside out,” he said. “I loved music teaching but I wouldn’t have gone back to it.”
During that time he has looked after every ‘house’ in the school but he will be most fondly remembered for being the leader of Clark House which will be disbanded on his retirement. One responsibility that he held has remained a clear example of his organisational capabilities – the Senior and Junior Awards Ceremonies.
One of his finest moments this year was to support a first year class in organising a coffee morning for in excess of eighty older folk from Duns and then support them to gain a Saltire Award in the process.
“I’ve seen so many changes,” he went on. “In my first class back in 1975, there was Shirley Redpath, or Evans as she was then.
“And in my last fifth year class I had her nephew, Finlay!
“Teaching as a whole has changed a lot. There’s so much pressure on the kids nowadays to pass exams, but they’ve been doing that for years, regardless of league tables and what not.”
Headteacher John Clarke said: “The school will be far less of a place without him but generations of young people will be able to recount the difference that he made to their time both at school and beyond the school gates.
“We wish him well in his retirement and we hope that it will be a long and happy one.”
Ronald added that appearing in the school’s production of Oliver! after being in the last full musical in 1986, had afforded him “just about the best send-off I could have.”