October 3 2012, a day that will be ever etched in the memory of all the pupils, the staff and the guests who were part of this significant moment in the history of George Watson’s College.
On the day an expectant crowd awaited the return of one of our best-known former pupils, Sir Chris Hoy, MBE (Class of 1994) to open the George Watson's College Centre for Sport, the largest capital project undertaken at Watson’s in a generation.
The School felt so proud that Sir Chris could find time in his hectic schedule to visit us. As Gareth Edwards, Principal, stated during the official opening “All of us at Watson's are immensely proud that Great Britain's most successful Olympian is a Watsonian. Sir Chris Hoy epitomises all that is best about top-flight sport. Not only is he a shining example of dedication, perseverance and sheer sporting talent but he is also a great ambassador for his sport and the nation.”
Accompanied by Lady Sarra, with his parents and sister in attendance, the day encapsulated what it is to be part of the Watson’s family. The opening ceremony took place in the ‘Hub’ of the Centre for Sport, in the company of our generous donors who helped us fund the magnificent sports facilities we now enjoy.
But on this special day two assemblies were held to include every pupil from Nursery to S6 in the celebrations. The Senior School was first and the assembly opened with the Chamber Choir perfroming a specially arranged song based upon a 16th century madrigal The Merry Month of Maying and renamed The Merry Month of Hoying. Then Sir Chris happily answered a series of questions prepared by the Senior School Pupil Council.
Following an opening ceremony revealing the artwork for the plaque in the Centre for Sport, Sir Chris was surprised to be presented with an honour that had eluded him. He was awarded honorary Cycling Colours in the form of a new blazer which he proudly wore for the rest of his visit.
Then it was on to the new Centre for Sport. Here the donors, invited guests and pupil representatives were every bit as excited as the senior pupils. The Principal thanked all those who had played a part in the success of the project to produce a facility second to none in a Scottish school, particularly the donors who had made it happen, before introducing the FP that probably needed no introduction.
Sir Chris said as he opened the facility, “I was lucky to go to School at Watson’s and to have the opportunities I had here. It is an honour to have been invited back to open such a magnificent facility. Everyone always makes me so welcome when I return to somewhere I feel at home.”
A tour of the new Centre enabled Sir Chris to see the facilities and to meet with pupils and guests.
If we thought we had witnessed excitement that was nothing in comparison to the Junior School assembly. Catherine Jack, Head of the Junior School, welcomed Sir Chris back to the "family" with the children’s first performance of a song called The Olympians. Sir Chris listened and laughed as the song was performed by all the children in the Hall – with actions.
Then it was time for children from Nursery to Primary 7 to ask their questions.
After the third official opening, Sir Chris was presented with a framed painting of a golden bicycle, which had been created from the golden fingerprints of every child in the Junior School.
As Sir Chris, his family and all our guests left us and the normal school day resumed, it was obvious that everyone enjoyed their moment in the company of this cycling legend. It was clear that this had been a celebration not only of our new sports facilities but also of a man we are so very proud to call a Watsonian.