WHEN Gary Scott went on a sabbatical last summer from his job as head teacher of Tweedbank Primary, he was keeping his options open, writes Andrew Keddie.
The former Kirk minister was given leave by Scottish Borders Council to take a year out to pursue his dream of becoming a commissioned army chaplain, serving on the front line.
Gary had enrolled at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in pursuit of a PQO (professionally qualified officer) qualification on the understanding that, if he was unsuccessful, he could return to his profession.
But not only did he pass muster at the famous officer training institution, Gary graduated as top student, becoming the first army chaplain and the oldest student – he’s 50 later this month – to do so.
After receiving his PQO at the pass-out parade last month, Gary officially tendered his resignation to the council.
He has since been appointed Padre to the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and is in Canada, preparing for deployment to Afghanistan.
“I am absolutely delighted for Gary who was an excellent head teacher and will make, I am sure, an inspirational chaplain wherever he is deployed,” said council leader and Tweedbank resident David Parker.
“He was a dynamic individual who will be a loss to teaching. I am sure I speak for the entire Tweedbank school community in wishing him all the best.”
Formerly a minister in Peebles, Mr Scott did voluntary work in local schools and went on to complete his teacher training.
He has held a variety of posts in Borders schools, including Kingsland in Peebles, the Burgh in Galashiels and Melrose Primary.
For a time, he was acting head teacher at Fountainhall and Stow before taking over the helm at Tweedbank in 2008.
Mr Parker said applications are now being sought for the vacant Tweedbank headship with an appointment due to be confirmed before the start of the new session.