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Sandy McAllister – Architect Services

Sandy McAllister has been in touch to pass on the details of his Architects firm in Dundee

One of the manny Arran boys, Sandy attended Keil from 1968 until 1974 following in the footsteps of his late father AMD McAllister and uncles Ronald, David and Duncan from Lochranza. Uncle Alan Bannatyne from Blackwaterfoot also attended.

If you would like your company added to the , just drop us a line.

Jubilee 2013 – The 25 Year Reunion @ Ballinakill House

Not everyone who was asked actually wanted to come. Not everyone who said they’d like to come could actually make it in the end; but those who did come made it a more than worthwhile venture.


John Cameron planned it into a family expedition from Mexico, bringing his wife and 2 young children all the way – presumably to help them appreciate the weather they normally take for granted. Dave Cunningham drove his wife and young daughter up from the South of England. John Hanneken flew over from Geneva with his daughter for just one night. He wanted to be sure to catch up with Ewan Reid, who was flying out to Guatamela on the Sunday, but who still made it. Dave Anderson brought his 16 year old son, Hamish, which was a bit confusing for many of us, as the last time we’d seen Dave, he wasn’t much older – and so we found ourselves continually addressing Hamish for Dave stories.
Gavin Bruce and Ken Thompson from the year above decided they could sense a party, so they brought bits of their families (and most of their golf clubs) down. Finlay brought his pregnant wife, Fiona, and their young daughter Maisie. Finlay’s dad thought it all sounded a bit fun, so he chartered a yacht from Inverkip and recruited his old boy’s rugby teammate Richard Chilcott as weekend crew for a sail around the penisula with a wee stop over in Clachan – where they found the hospitality as warm as the chicken fajitas and the red wine at high tide. My own family seemed keen enough, so Lynn, Ross & Lorna joined the fun at Balinakill house and we all had a ball.

It’s a beautiful old house, where Keil School found itself during the 2nd world war, whilst the Norwegian Navy were installed in Helenslee. Ally McCoists’s grandfather served the McNeil family as a gamekeeper in those days, and that is why we share common alma-mater with the father of one of Scotland’s greatest ever strikers.

The house is now available for a self-catering hire and with 12 stunning en-suite rooms on offer, we certainly picked a great, albeit difficult to get to venue for our 25 year Jubilee celebration. With Tarbert Golf club just an 8-iron down the road, the boys were able to spend Saturday afternoon working off Friday night’s well lubricated reunion, whilst the familes explored the surrounding countryside – with a very fine investment in the beautiful produce available at the farm shop for a Saturday night BBQ to be remembered.

On Sunday most of the boys had to start heading their seperate ways back home and on with their current journeys. Over the years we’ve not always kept in touch, and perhaps we’ll drift apart again, but it was a wonderful gesture by those who did come to make such a big effort to remember and celebrate our shared years at Keil. In these days of social networking, it’s definitely easier to keep a hold of someones contact details – but it’s still a much more worthwhile effort to actually get together for some socialising in the flesh.
Perhaps Balinakill won’t suit everyone. It’s difficult to get to and perhaps expensive for people won’t manage to be away for the minimum amount of time the house needs to be let for, but we certainly all enjoyed it and with Richard reminding us all that the school will be 100 years old soon, perhaps we need to find some bigger way of celebrating that common bond between those of us who learned to Persevere in Hope.

Here’s a bottle and an honest friend

Here's, a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be of care, man.

Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not ay when sought, man.

Maggie’s Monster challenge 2013

Early on Sunday morning 5th May; Jim MacFarlane & Finlay Kerr (Jr) finally arrived at Inverness stadium, 23 hours and 21 minutes after leaving Fort William to complete the gold level of Maggie’s Monster challenge . Ewan Reid had joined the team from the start and completed the silver challenge up to Drumnadrochit, a significant undertaking in itself.


So far this team of old boys from the 1988 release have raised over £1600 for the Maggie’s centres. Having met so many wonderful people, with significant emotional investment in the work of the Maggie’s centres, team Keil concluded that this was indeed a particularly worthwhile event are proud to have contributed in their own small way to the work of an outstanding organisation.

If you like to add a little more to the effort, all contributions are gratefully received at

Special thanks to Finlay’s pregnant wife Fiona and Finlay Sr for stepping into the breach when the original support team were forced to pull out due to family issues.

Maggie’s Monster Bike ‘n’ Hike – training complete… nearly!

Celebrating 25 years since their release from Keil, Jim MacFarlane, Finlay Kerr (Jr) and Ewan Reid will be raising money for Maggies’s Cancer Care centres through the trial by endurance that is the Monster Bike ‘n’ Hike. A 31 mile bike ride from Fort William to Fort Augustus followed by a 41 mile Hike to breakfast in Inverness.

4 seasons in one afternoon

Finlay & Ewan test their wet weather gear

This weekend the boys confirmed the difficulty of the task in hand with a 8am brick session (the triathletes out there will know that is a session which combines more than one discipline) that started with a 16 mile bike ride out and back from Callander, then incorporated a funny exchange with an Eastern European waitress who translated Roll & Sausage into Sausage Roll, a 34 mile hike following the Rob Roy way out to Balquidder, up and over the hills to Glen Finglas Reservoir then down to a quick soup stop at the Byre Inn, Brig o Turk, before finally stumbling through the darkness around the south side of Loch Venacher arriving back Callander just after midnight. Special thanks to Michael Fish for ensuring that all the equipment was thoroughly stress tested against Wind, Rain, more rain, sleet (just a wee bit!) and strong (honestly!) sunshine (no, honestly!).

You can contribute to the fundraising efforts on the Just Giving fund raising site.




MacKinnon MacNeil Trust Update


The Mackinnon Macneill Trust is an educational charity established to ‘assist the education of deserving highland lads and lasses.’ Scholarship awards are made annually to senior pupils from the west highlands and islands of Scotland who are about to go to university or

In session 2012/13 the trustees awarded 16 scholarships to senior pupils from 10 state schools all the way up the west coast from Campbeltown Grammar to Liniclate School in Uist.

The scholarships are normally for £1,000 or £2,000 and are repeated for each successfully completed undergraduate year. During this session a further 47 students continued to receive scholarship support.

The trustees were delighted to learn of the success of the 2012 graduates who produced the excellent results of 2 master’s degrees, 2 first class , 3 upper second class and 2 lower second class degrees.

The Trust also co-operates with the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation to recognise an outstanding scientist or mathematician and the Joint Scholarship award in 2012 was made to Andrew McClement from Machrihanish who will read mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge.

The Trust has also formed a link with the Applecross Trust and offers another joint award to a school leaver intending to follow a course of study of direct relevance to the Applecross peninsula.

Thomas S Smith (clerk)

Death of Tom Scott

Sorry to report that we have been advised of the death of one of the best known Keil School characters, Tom Scott. He was at school in the 1930s I think. Owner of Inchmurrin Island / Hotel on Loch Lomond, Highland Games stalwart, supporter of Old Boys activities for many years and truly a larger than life character to all those that knew and met him. His 3 sons (Douglas, David and Dugald) were at Keil in the 1970s.

The funeral is at Cardross Crematorium on Monday 23rd April at 3.15 pm.

Ian MacDonald (7th July 1910 – 4th January 2012)

Ian MacDonald

Ian was born in Bellevue Road, Edinburgh. His father ran a light engineering and model making business in Frederick Street.

In 1917 the family moved out to Newbridge on the outskirts of the city where Ian attended Ratho Primary School. Then, travelling by train to Edinburgh, he attended secondary school at the Royal High School. The family again moved, this time to Corstorphine around 1930. Ian started learning his trade as a piano and organ tuner and restorer with Methven Simpson Ltd (music house). He was proficient at playing both instruments. Ian moved to London to continue his trade until 1940 when he joined the RAF. He trained as a Wireless Operator and was stationed in South Africa until 1945, flying as an operator in planes teaching air crew.

He returned to Methven Simpson, and in 1947 was the standby instrument technician retuning the instruments in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh during the early days of the Edinburgh Festival recitals. In 1948 he accompanied a piano which had been gifted to the Iona Community.

Later in 1948 he took advantage of the scheme to train returning servicemen, and studied Technical Drawing and Woodwork at Gordon College in Aberdeen. After completing the course, he was appointed to the position at Keil School, Dumbarton in 1950 and remained there until his retirement in 1977. He returned to Corstorphine, Edinburgh, continuing to play golf regularly into his late eighties. In recent years he moved, along with his sister Mary, to a care home at Murrayfield.

Ian was more than just a teacher: he was a mentor, a person of high standards, a strict disciplinarian and a person of compassion, who had the ability to reprimand a wayward pupil or correct an immature reaction. At that time it may have appeared harsh; however the pupil on reflection understood and to this day, up to sixty years on, remembered his tutelage and guidance. Mr MacDonald, better known as Wee Aye, left a lasting set of high standards allowing no compromise for thousands of pupils at Keil.

Ian MacDonald on his 100th Birthday

He was a very lively and able centenarian, fondly relaying stories of his time Keil and its more famous or notorious pupils.

He had two sisters, Barbara who died aged 101 in 2007 and Mary who died aged 98. Neither Ian nor his sisters married.

Written by a personal friend, Tom Govenlock,

Reminiscences of some of his pupils at Keil:

Bill Menzies (1949-53)

Ian put a great deal of trust in boys on whom he could depend. When Ian arrived at Keil in 1950, he possessed a black ‘Morris 8’ (2-seater) open top – a ‘Tourer’ I think it was called then. The car had covered a high mileage in its time and it was patently obvious by its performance that the engine badly needed a ‘de-coke’. Who better than my classmate Ben Mundell – whose father had a garage and ran a taxi service in Tarbert, Loch Fyne – to do the job! Stripping the engine to expose valves and tappets was a piece of cake to Ben, and I clearly remember the courtyard in front of ‘New House’ (latterly ‘McKinnon House’), and Ian’s car with all the valves and tappets laid out in precise order on a newspaper and Ben happy as anything, grinding in the valves. Class mates all around were frankly astounded at what we saw that day. Where Ben got the nickname ‘Tiddler’ I never knew , but by jove we thought he was the cat’s whiskers watching him attempt a job the rest of us hadn’t a clue about! Was he successful? Absolutely! ‘Wee Aye’ was delighted with the result, but I doubt if he ever found out how some of us had a ‘go’ at driving his car later that great day. We were only in our 2nd Year!

Donald Leckie (1950-54)

Shortly after Ian joined Keil in 1950, he threw me (deservedly!) out of the Gilbert & Sullivan choir for misbehaviour. However, he had noticed my enjoyment of the music and he soon loaned me gramophone records, which encouraged me to develop a lifelong interest in classical music. I was pleased to be able to return this kindness by visiting him regularly in his later years, swapping many stories about our times at Keil.

Brian Oswald (1962-67)

… Wee Aye lived to the age of 102, but I wasn’t surprised – the man was amazing! He didn’t rush around and wave his arms about, like some of his contemporary colleagues, but just went quietly about the business of teaching us skills that would serve us all of our days. I left Keil in 1967, but every time I use a saw, I can still hear him saying, “Let the saw do the job it was designed for – cutting wood – your arm and hand are only there to move it back and forward in a straight line!” And my favourite one…..”Stop PUSHING that pencil: this is called technical drawing for a good reason – DRAW it along the line!”

They don’t make teachers like Ian any more, I fear. It won’t be long before people will have forgotten how to sharpen chisels; they’ll just throw them away and buy a new one from B & Q.  I am still using some of the chisels regularly that I bought in about 1970, and even a couple that I inherited from my grandfather which probably date back another 50 years or so before that. They are all a bit shorter than when they were new, but they still take a keen edge, thanks to Ian’s teaching! The same goes for my 1970s Stanley planes

Tim Holland (1970 to 76)

I still remember him fondly and always think of him if I do any woodwork projects around the house. “Fingers behind the cutting blade” is a saying of his that has probably saved me a few flesh wounds over the years. It was the same with the technical drawing skills that he passed on to us all. I never did work out how he could be so neat when writing block letters on the blackboard.

Mike Dovaston (1962 – 67)

I was most interested to see Tom Govenlock’s obituary on Ian MacDonald.  I understood we would be told about Wee Aye’s funeral arrangements?  Did any of the Old Boys go to the funeral and if so who was there and were there any of the Keil masters there?

I would have attended for sure.  Please post this on the KSOB website.  I would have emailed but cant seem to get logged in and the club email is not working*.  Are others experiencing difficulties?  Hope this doesn’t inconvenience you.  Yours Mike Dovaston.

A sad day indeed and an end to another chapter of Keil history.

* Apologies to Mike – The club email account was full – if you cant get through on the usual address please try our new hotmail accout

Death of Ian MacDonald


From James Woodrow:

Some and possibly many of you will remember Ian MacDonald the technical drawing and woodwork teacher at Keil for more 35 years.  He retired in 1975/6.  He was  better known to many of us as Wee Eye.  I received a call today to advise me that Ian died earlier this morning, 4 January in a care home in Edinburgh.  He was a very lively and able 102 years old and, until recent months he has retained an exceptional memory, fondly relaying stories of Keil and its more famous or notorious pupils.

Funeral Details to follow.

Isla Duncan World Cup sweep

Isla Duncan is the daughter of Kerr Duncan (1983-89) and nearly 3 years old. Isla was diagnosed with Embryonic Rhabdomayo Sarcoma, cancer of the tongue, 7 months ago. This is very rare in a child of this age and surgery is not an option due to the location. She has already gone through 8 high strengh chemotherapy treatments and is now needing proton therapy treatment. This is specialist treatment and she needs to go to America for it.

Susie Fitzgerald is organising a Rugby World Cup sweep to raise funds to help pay for Isla receive this important treatment

Any money left over will be gifted to the CLIC Sergeant charity.

Please give what you can. The Sweep forms are attached (click on the link below, then you will have a link to the sweep form – not sure why it works like this…)


Make your cheques payable to Isla Duncan and send them to Susie FitzGerald, c/o The Glasgow Academy, Colebrooke Street, Glasgow, G12 8HE.