PEEBLES High recently celebrated its annual prize-giving event. Here, members of the school’s higher journalism class interview some of the winners and those involved on the day...

Headteacher’s message

This year we celebrate our amazing young people and their astounding achievements in their studies through the medium of the printed press. Is it the same as enjoying the embarrassment of your granny cheering from the front row? Or as rewarding as seeing the pride on the faces of family members as you collect your certificate on stage with a smile and a handshake? Of course not. Nothing about school life post-fire; post/during COVID seems as rewarding or real as it once did but, be in no doubt, the young people celebrated here today are every bit as worthy of celebration and congratulations as their predecessors and perhaps even more so given all they have had to overcome and deal with to win the prizes we celebrate in this article.

Perhaps you can take heart that this year’s Peebles High School prize giving offers something more permanent than fleeting moments of adulation and applause. It offers an article than can be cherished for years to come as a reminder of how our young people triumphed against the odds. Who knows, perhaps in years to come one of this year’s prize winners will be a granny or grandpa waving this copy of the Peeblesshire in the front row shouting, “I won that same prize in 2021– prizes really meant something in my day.” Perhaps that is a bit fanciful but, as your head teacher, I want to thank each and every one of you for succeeding in tough times and bringing such pride and honour to our school. Well done.

And well done too to our higher journalism class and their teacher, Ms Ness, for the hard work that brings you this celebration of our fantastic young people. I also extend a special thanks to Jacqueline Wilson, the recently retired headteacher of Kingsland Primary for being our special guest in school awarding the certificates and trophies in preparation for this most unusual of prize giving events.

Campbell Wilson, PHS rector

Special guest

Squadron leader Stewart Campbell

“As a former Peebles High School pupil, I’m delighted to have been asked to support the school’s annual prize giving. It’s important that not only the winners of these awards are praised but all Peebles High School pupils who have had to deal with their own challenges throughout the year.

“I have incredibly fond memories of my time at the school, particularly with the PE department who went above and beyond to help me start on my career path. I urge all of the pupils to enjoy their time at the school, reach out for help and support when it is needed, and never stop chasing their dreams.

“Congratulations to all the award winners, your hard work and dedication has been rightly recognised. I wish you all the very best for your next challenges and hope they give you joy along the way.”

A former pupil of Peebles High School, Stewart joined the RAF as a pilot after completing a bachelor of education in physical education at the University of Edinburgh. A fast jet pilot, Stewart has amassed more than 3,000 flight hours and was a Red Arrows pilot during the 2014, 2015 and 2016 display seasons. Now serving on 617 Squadron flying the F-35B ‘Lightning’ Strike Fighter, he is currently deployed on HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s Flagship aircraft carrier.

Edited by Erin Little


Achievement award winners

Thomas Neville: The Maigret Cup for best overall linguist

The Maigret Cup is a prestigious award earned by the best overall linguist student of Peebles High School for the year. The winner of the Maigret Cup this year is Thomas Neville. Thomas has won this award through his success studying Spanish and French at Higher level. The class was fortunate enough to interview Thomas regarding the award and asked him how he felt to have won this. He said: “I’m really impressed with myself, obviously the award for overall linguist is really prestigious, and I’m really chuffed with myself as there is obviously a lot of languages at this school so to have won the best overall award for languages is something that I’m really proud of.”

By Harry Ness

Amy Brown: Outstanding Musical Contribution

On November 25 the class interviewed former Peebles High School student Amy Brown to discuss her achievement of the Outstanding Musical Contribution Award. This is presented in recognition of the huge commitment made to the extra curricular life of the school and is awarded to a pupil who have been a source of inspiration to their fellow musicians throughout their time at Peebles. She was delighted to have won, even though she only took music for enjoyment and went on to express her disappointment at not being able to perform fully last year. She graciously stated that she was glad pupils are “able to get back to that now and other people are enjoying it”. While Amy is not pursuing music further (instead studying biochemistry at university), she explained that “it’s not something I want to stop doing… It was probably one of my favourite subjects, probably the one I was most relaxed about if that makes sense. It was always a nice environment to be in and I think that helped me enjoy it a lot more”. Amy then admitted at the risk of sounding “cliché”, that the music department concerts were the highlight of her years at the school. At the end of the interview, she imparted some very wise advice for younger years. She said: “Have more confidence in yourself, don’t care as much about what other people think.”

By Madeleine Hubert

Christopher O’Hare: George OB Thomson Memorial Cup

This award was created by professor George Thompson, who taught in the English department at Peebles High School. He devoted large parts of his research to the study of pupils with additional needs and was always adamant that they should be integrated into the “life and work of the whole school”. The council of Tweeddale wanted to celebrate the late professor George Thompson by awarding this memorial quaich to the most creative and enterprising entry from pupils with additional needs for a project devised by the school in conjunction with the society. When the class interviewed Christopher he said he felt “brilliant and honoured” to receive this award. He told us that one teacher that improved Christopher’s school life was Mr Travis, from the technology department. Christopher described him as a “funny guy” and “nice person”, who he says is happy to help whenever. He added that design and manufacture was his favourite subject as it enabled him to unleash his creativity. Not only is Christopher creative, but funny too, and when asked what his act in a school talent show would be he replied: “I like to make people laugh and feel happy”. Finally, Christopher was asked what he wishes to do in the future. Filled with energy, he stated that he would like to join the army. The skills and qualities which Christopher has shown in order to gain this award will help him achieve his future plans. The school wishes Christopher all the best, and know he will do well in the world which anxiously awaits his talent, kindness and phenomenal humour.

By Keeley Rippin

Ben Rorison: George OB Thomson Memorial Cup, and Balfour Medal 2021

This year’s worthy prize winner of the Balfour Medal and the George OB Thomson cup is Ben Rorison. Both prizes are awarded to an individual with a positive presence and creative outlook within their community and school life. This was an area in which Ben excelled. When asked how he felt about receiving both awards Ben stated that he was “shocked and delighted to have been picked”. Ben also mentioned that his favourite subject was music and that he wanted to pursue this by becoming a music teacher for those with additional needs. When asked what his favourite memory was at Peebles High, Ben said is was helping first year pupils and helping around the school as a prefect, just showing how deserving of this prize Ben is. The positive impact that Ben had on the school will stay with those students he helped and the teachers he worked with. The school has no doubt that Ben will continue to be a role model and inspiration to all who are fortunate enough to work with him.

By Olivia Thornburrow

Abbie Sorrell: Geoffrey Simpson Award for Head Prefect

One winner of the Geoffrey Simpson award is ex-head girl Abbie Sorrell. The class’ first question regarded the important issue of who her favourite teacher was. She replied: “I don’t really do favourites, but if I had to choose it would be Lesley Johnson. Chemistry used to be one of my weaker subjects , however I learned to love it and always looked forward to her classes”. However, she may have been won over in another way as she finishes her reply with “cake days were always a firm favourite of mine too”.

Abbie was asked what her favourite memory of Peebles High School was and she responded enthusiastically “the German exchange trip”. She added: “I went as a member of the choir and loved meeting like-minded people and embracing a different culture. Not to mention the infamous Loch Lomond song which was always a favourite of mine.”

When asked about her future plans, Abbie replied: “Wow, thinking about the future seems so daunting, however I hope that my uni degree will allow me to work in a hospital environment where I can help people. I also love the idea of travel and going on adventures to make some memories.”

The class asked Abbie to reflect on and offer advice to her first year self, and she responded with “the list is long… the main thing I’d say is not to be so hard on myself and to accept that set backs are important for learning just as much as success”. Carrying on the theme of advice Abbie was asked what she would say to this year’s head team and she told them to “embrace everything because the year will be over before you know it. Therefore, just make the most of every opportunity and most of all enjoy yourself and have fun working with your peers”.

By Rosie Dykes

Euan Macrae: Geoffrey Simpson Award for Head Prefect

Euan Macrae was awarded the prestigious Geoffrey Simpson Award for his efforts as head boy. Euan had to show certain skills such as leadership and teamwork in order to effectively guide the school. In an interview with Euan, who is now studying Medicine at University, he highlighted how the school fire and COVID had affected his work ethic during his final few years in school, and how this has impacted the lives of not only himself but also his year group going into exams and beyond. He explained that “we’d never sat proper higher exams which would have set us up for the bigger exams that we were going to have to sit further down the line so the damage from that is probably still lasting”. The class asked Euan who his hero was, he very honestly answered with his grandfather, saying that he had always looked up to him due to his intelligence and bravery. When asked who his favourite teacher was at school, Euan passionately discussed how Miss Dunlop, who taught history, influenced his high school experience as “she had the entire class focused on what she was saying and she never even had to raise her voice. I soon realised that learning could be actually so much fun as well as informative”.

By Louise Russell

Rachel McManus: Tweed Reads Prize

Campbell Hunter was a much-loved member of the Peebles community. He made fantastic contributions to the Tweed Reads organisation and thrived under the leadership role. He was kind, compassionate and showed a real love of encouraging the younger generations to explore and enjoy reading. Campbell worked tirelessly alongside the other members of Tweed Reads and valued the importance of learning, community and service. Campbell was such an important part of the community, and his astounding contribution to Tweed Reads only proved how far he was set to go outside of school.

The Tweed Reads prize is named after Campbell Hunter, not just to honour his memory but to honour everything he stood for and his contributions to the Tweed Reads club. The prize is awarded to the few who epitomise Campbell’s wonderful leadership qualities and share his values of learning and community. The Campbell Hunter prize for 2021 goes to Rachel McManus who consistently worked creatively within the confines of COVID regulations and was always relentlessly positive.

When the class asked Rachel about the prize itself and how she felt to have won it, she described Campbell as “a huge part of Tweed Reads in his last few years of high school and had a real passion for helping young children in the community develop their reading skills and form a love for reading”. Rachel says she feels “honoured to have won the Campbell Hunter prize through Tweed Reads” and she hopes to continue her involvement with the organisation in coming years.

When asked in an interview how the fire and pandemic affected her work ethic within school she replied it had “a massive impact on students”. She then went on to congratulate the school saying it has “worked hard to ensure that pupils were still able to have a good amount of teaching with being online and there was always support available should anyone have needed it”. Rachel closed her answer by admitting that “it was hard to concentrate on work at home, so you really had to push yourself to stay motivated and keep on top of the workload”.

Rachel was asked how she felt the award carried on Campbell’s legacy. She responded saying that it demonstrates all of the commitment he put into Tweed Reads and his caring nature over his home community.

She added: “In my sixth year of high school I heard many stories of Campbell from Tweed Reads leaders who had worked alongside him. They always said how much commitment he had to the charity and how much he cared about truly representing the ethos of the charity so therefore I feel that the Campbell Hunter prize is a true legacy of all the hard work and dedication that he put into the charity.”

By Rosie Dykes