No Limits. A Fundraising Campaign for George Watson's College


It is only thanks to the generosity of our donors that we have been able to continue to support Foundation Places, provide scholarships and prizes to gifted individuals, develop our teaching and learning facilities, and be confident that we can put in place ambitious plans for our future.

Current Fundraising Priorities

Foundation Places

It costs £130,000 to fully fund an individual Foundationer through their education from P6 to S6 and it takes the generosity of many to ensure we are able to offer continued financial support at this level. Next year, we are aiming to offer Foundation Places to more individuals than have ever been supported in one year. That means providing financial assistance to over 200 bright, young people who could not otherwise join us at Watson’s.

This year, the George Watson’s Endowment Trust (SC048956), a Scottish registered charity, was established to administer donations gifted to support Foundation Places in perpetuity. As a key project in our No Limits Fundraising Campaign, we have ambitious plans to raise £10million in endowed funds which would secure continuous funding for 20 Foundation Places.

Enrichment Fund

We aim to provide extraordinary opportunities as part of a Watson’s education. Enrichment opportunities that are not simply a privilege for those who can afford them, but that are integral to every pupil’s educational journey.

Enrichment is an important aspect of life at Watson’s and we know that for some pupils they simply could not consider participating because of the costs. In 2020, we will launch our Enrichment Fund. A project that will increase the funds available for extra-curricular activities across the School. Our aim is to remove the financial barriers that may prevent pupils from enriching their Watson’s journey with a mix of sport, adventure, music, creative arts, travel and culture. We will seek donations on an ongoing basis that will allow us to ensure that all pupils, no matter what their financial circumstances, will be able to access the activities and experiences that help make a Watson’s education truly life changing.

We aim to provide extraordinary opportunities as part of a Watson’s education. Enrichment opportunities that are not simply a privilege for those who can afford them, but that are integral to every pupil’s educational journey.

Accessibility Project 

Sport at Watson’s has been an important aspect of the school through its history and many former pupils will fondly remember the Grandstand Pitch at Myreside. Little has been done to upgrade facilities and the time has come for us to consider accessibility. We are currently developing a fundraising proposal to raise money to make the Grandstand at Myreside accessible for wheelchair users. The project will see the provision of five dedicated wheelchair spaces with companion seats, all accessed from a newly installed ramp at the front of the Grandstand. This change will make our Grandstand accessible to those with limited mobility for the first time,  allowing everyone the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere while being protected from inclement weather. We will also be installing additional accessible parking spaces. Future plans could include providing ramps and a lift in Myreside Pavilion.

Myreside Squash Courts

The squash courts at Myreside were some of the very first to be built in Scotland when they were completed in the mid-1930s. They have been at the forefront of Scottish Squash since their inauguration and home to the Watsonian Squash Club who have made full use of the facilities over the last 80 years. The time has now come to revitalise the space and bring the four courts up to the standards now expected at competition level.

Phase I of this project, which was funded by the school, included the refurbishment of the changing facilities. Having completed these works in spring 2019, we now turn towards fundraising for Phase II. This second phase will see the biggest improvement and investment ever made to the courts. The project includes significantly upgrading and refurbishing two courts to allow for more efficient coaching spaces and the creation of a new Squash Club Hub area.

Throughout 2020 we will be working to raise a significant six-figure sum to fund the final phase of improvements.

Pipes & Drums Centre

It has long been a desire of our Pipes and Drums to have a permanent and more suitable home for both tuition and practice for the ever-increasing number of band members and performances. We are committed to ensuring the continued success of our Pipes and Drums and we, therefore, will be taking forward plans to construct a new Pipes and Drums Centre. This purpose-designed space will incorporate a Drill Hall and multiple soundproofed individual tuition rooms and will be sited at the back of New Myreside House on land currently used as a Pre-School play area. Fundraising will take place throughout 2020 with a particular high point being a high profile collaborative concert in late 2020.

To make this ambitious vision a reality we will be working hard to secure donations of almost £1million to fully fund this project.

Funded Projects

In June 2019, the Principal, Melvyn Roffe, shared the school’s plans to raise £25 million by 2030. These plans outlined the achievements since 2015, when the school began to lay the foundations for its No Limits fundraising campaign. Since then, nearly £9 million has been donated to the school through life-time and legacy gifts.

Below are some of the projects that have been funded thanks to our donors:

John Martin Junior School Building

John Martin Junior SchoolThis year, the School completed its most ambitious capital build in its modern history with the completion of the new John Martin Junior School Building. This impressive £8.2million extension provides bright, modern teaching and learning spaces, an open plan library and performance and individual music studios.

Watson’s was founded on philanthropy and its achievements have only been made possible due to the generosity of individuals who have made a donation or left a legacy gift. John Martin (Class of 1948) left a substantial legacy to Watson’s, which as well as helping to fund the refurbishment of the Craiglockhart Pavilion and supporting cricket, has now made a significant contribution to allowing the School to realise its ambitions for developing and improving facilities for our Junior School pupils.

Library Project

Morrison LibraryOn Monday 13 November 1950 – an auspicious literary date, which marked the 100th anniversary of Robert Louis Stevenson’s birth – Mr John S Blair, Master and Member of the Education Board of the Merchant Company, gifted the Blair Library to the School. Nearly 70 years on and thanks to over 30 donors collectively gifting £25,000, the library has been fully refurbished and now provides spaces for pupils to create, develop their writing skills, collaborate with their peers, or simply use the space to reflect and find support from the professional library staff.

Norman Hyde Organ

Morrison LibraryFour decades after being installed, by an enthusiastic band of staff and pupils, between October 1978 and December 1982, the organ in the Senior School Hall has reached the end of its serviceable life. Over recent years it had become increasingly costly to maintain and less reliable for the occasions when its unique resonance is most required.

After a thorough exploration, it was decided to install a new digital organ that will allow a much greater level of flexibility, and more importantly, reliability, for decades to come.

We raised over £52,000 towards the purchase and installation costs of the new organ. The project was funded principally from The Hyde Music Bequest, which was generously left to Watson’s in 1986 by Mr Norman ‘Pongo’ Hyde, former Director of Music at GWC along with many generous donations from Mr Hyde’s pupils who remember their former teacher with great fondness.

The new organ has now been installed and will be dedicated ‘The Norman Hyde Organ’ by Donald Runnicles (Class of 1972) on Founder’s Day 2020. A fitting tribute to an outstanding musician, scholar and gentleman.

Junior School Playground

Morrison LibraryThanks to the fundraising efforts of the Parents’ Association and staff and pupils in the Junior School, the Junior School playground was significantly upgraded over the summer holidays. The space now boasts climbing frames, reading nooks, landscaping and outside classrooms. The £120,000 upgrade ensures that those who prefer to relax in a quite space to chat to friends and our more boisterous pupils all have relevant spaces to meet their different needs.

Computing Science Outreach Project

Our ever-growing outreach programme is developed in collaboration with partner schools and community organisations. Due to recruitment issues, our partner school in South Edinburgh, Castlebrae Community High School had been unable to teach Computer Science for 2 years and had removed it from their curriculum.  

In 2019, a generous donor provided funding to allow us, with fewer barriers to recruitment,  to employ a part-time Computer Science teacher to teach at Castlebrae. This outreach project has additionally seen S1 and S2 pupils from Castlebrae attending GWC weekly to have Computing science and general ITC lessons which helps them to gain knowledge and will spark interest in further study. Our own teachers are also sharing their skills and knowledge with visiting teachers from Castlebrae to allow computing science to be taught there is due course.