News & Updates

Olympic Success!

We are delighted that Callum Skinner, British track cyclist and former pupil at James Gillespie’s High School, has won both a gold and a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio. Callum has worked incredibly hard to achieve this, and James Gillespie’s Trust is proud to have made a small contribution to his funding along the way.

While he was at James Gillespie’s, Callum applied for (and was awarded) a small grant of £250 towards travel to his training weekends and competitions and for various pieces of equipment for his bike. The comment on the web site was: “He hopes his success will lead him to the Olympics!” Well, Callum, you’ve done it – we’re so proud of your achievements!

Many thanks to Judith, Callum’s mum, for providing this photo for the website!  It was taken on his 24th birthday (20/8/16) while they were still in Rio – hence the tropical background! 

The New School Campus

Here are some very recent photos of the new school buildings of James Gillespie’s High School. 

All staff and pupils are looking forward to a brand new campus when they resume on 15 August 2016.

The black circles on the ground are where trees will be planted in October. The new planting may look little sparse right now but just give it a year or two …

A Wee Celebration of the Old School!

What a great time we had on Saturday 8 June – we had so many visitors who were enjoying themselves so much, catching up with old friends and browsing through old photos & magazines, that they didn’t want to go home! Thanks to the school for giving the old school building such a magnificent send-off!

See what some of our visitors had to say …

Many thanks for a a wonderful afternoon. We thoroughly enjoyed .. .everything! The hall was particularly welcoming with the yellow table cloths and flowers – great tea and lovely JG cakes. We were in the library for ages – and found ourselves in old photographs, and enjoyed all the old magazines. We look forward to the 2016 open day, to see what transformations have come about.

What a fabulous open day. Thanks for sending me the details. Of course the glorious sunshine was a bonus! Had a super tour of the school and some delicious cakes! Here’s to the next one!

Fidelis et Forte CD

At last our long-awaited CD is ready and on sale. There are 13 piano solos by pupils at James Gillespie’s High School on the CD and the stunning cover was designed by artists from S6. As there are so many talented and creative pupils at James Gillespie’s, we hope it will be the first of many CDs we produce over the coming year. At £5 + £1 p&p, I’m sure you will agree that this CD is exceptionally good value!

*** Please note, there are no longer any of these CDs for sale. ***

Open Afternoon … 3 March 2012

Once again a very successful Open Afternoon was held in the library of James Gillespie’s High School. We were thrilled to welcome such a wide age range of former pupils, from some who had only left Gillespie’s a few years ago to a venerable ex-Gillespie girl of 95!

It was also an opportunity for former pupils to meet Mr Donald Macdonald, the new headteacher at James Gillespie’s. Mr Macdonald was delighted to be able to chat to former pupils from a variety of generations, and I know that our former pupils were very kean to exchange views with him.

During the afternoon we played the CD (Fidelis et Forte) that had been made by the music department at James Gillespie’s and some of the alumni watched the DVD (Living Stories) that was made several years ago.

Many thanks to those of you who attended and helped to make the afternoon so successful and so enjoyable! And also many thanks to the people who helped to set up the display … without you the afternoon could not have gone ahead!

Tours of Bruntsfield House

On Saturday 26 March 2011 about 35 former pupils of James Gillespie’s High School joined Allison & me for a tour of Bruntsfield House. Mr Wallace, the current head teacher, was delighted to tell us about the illuminated stained glass display created to mark the 400th anniversary of the building of Bruntsfield House. Thank you to Alice and her friends for providing the very welcome teas & coffees! I think everyone enjoyed revisiting a building that had been an important part of their youth. Below are some photos and memories of Bruntsfield House.

“In Primary 2 we had an arithmetic lesson but each week two lucky girls would be taken off up the narrow staircase for an art class. I hated arithmetic and every week I would hope it was my turn. There were so many of us in the class, I’m sure I only got to paint twice!”


“Miss Brodie’s class received a box of Canadian apples and a box of biscuits to have with our milk … after she married and moved to Canada.”


“Making tablet and putting it in bags to distribute as prizes on sports day.”


“The large music room in Bruntsfield House will forever be associated with Mr Somerville’s music classes … trying to beat out 4 different rhythms with different bits of the body … tricky co-ordination!”  


“Interesting to see the old building again … but how was anyone allowed to make such a mess of conversion?”

Running for the Trust!!

The Trust is pleased to announce that, as a  result of donations to Jeremy Hughes’ BUPA Great Winter Run around Holyrood Park on January 8th 2011, a fantastic

£1,185 plus gift aid

has been raised. This will help to support ongoing activities that include student projects involving sports, music and science, the Gillespie Book project and global citizenship within the school.

Open Afternoon … 6 March 2010

On 6th March 2010 we held an Open Afternoon for alumni in the school library.

Many alumni came to browse through our large collection of old photos, admissions record cards, magazines and items of uniform. The hat is always a catalyst for stories and much hilarity!

As you can tell from some of the comments in our Visitors’ Book, everyone enjoyed the afternoon and most people would like to have another opportunity to browse and chat before too long!

“Well organised and most enjoyable … do it again please!”

“Good to meet former classmates.”

“Brought back happy school memories.” 

During the afternoon there was an opportunity to watch the “Living Stories” DVD again. We still have some copies left (£5 + 50p p&p). Please contact Jean Knox if you would like to buy one.


James Gillespie’s link with Zwelibanzi School is a model for others
to follow, enriching young people in Edinburgh and in South Africa
for more than a decade.

Desmond Tutu

On 2 April 2009, to raise funds for the James Gillespie’s Global Citizenship Africa Project, 200 guests enjoyed a celebration of two cultures: Scotland and Africa with an evening of music, song and dance at Zuluceilidh, sponsored by Bizlinx and hosted by Linda Fabiani MSP (Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture) at Mansfield Traquair, Broughton Street, Edinburgh

As well as the opportunity to buy some wonderful jewellery from Scotland’s finest designers and the craftswomen of Umlazi township in South Africa, there was a cultural presentation by the young global citizens of James Gillespie’s High School, which included Highland pipes, Zulu drumming, an African choir, gum boot dancers, Highland dancers, music, songs, poems and prose.

Over the course of the evening an amazing £5900 was raised for the James Gillespie’s Global Citizenship Africa Project.


And it certainly did…..

The 28th and 29th of March 2009 saw the first free ArtWorks@Gillespie’s event showcasing the creative talent that exist in the Gillespie’s community.

Not only did the art work to raise funds but it also worked to gather together and unite people from different generations, different countries and different walks of life. Pieces of work came from Africa, America, China, England, Greece and Scotland. The art works were born on easels in schools and art colleges, in professional artists’ studios and on kitchen tables. They were created by former pupils, grandparents of current pupils, teachers and ex-teachers to say nothing of the astounding body of work created by JGHS students and Zwelibanzi learners.

The art works came in all shapes and sizes: paintings in various mediums from framed miniatures from America to large canvases (brought over from South Africa the day before); silver and bead jewellery; Zulu basket ware made from recycled plastic bags; one dress designed and made from sheets came from one of the learners from Zwelibanzi and another was designed and knitted in Scotland by a JGHS former pupil;  tapestry woven by an ex-teacher and  photographs of restaurant food waste, which explored the tradition of the Grand Tour.  We also received some generous donations from friends of the school for both the silent auction and the art auction on Sunday.

Saturday saw a steady flow of people throughout the day with catering by Saffron Café and a music programme provided by JGHS students. Sunday was much more up tempo –   after an organic African lunch of Bunny Chow and Chakalaka washed down by a South African wine and speeches by Jeremy Hughes and Alex Wallace the art auction kicked off and was expertly led by David Anderson.  Doug Veitch and Rise Kagona (ex Bhundu Boys) then played their unique fusion of Zimbabwean and Scottish music. 

During the two days over 500 art works were displayed, and more than 200 were sold, one piece selling for an astounding £750. With the profit from the bar and the food ArtWorks@Gillespie’s raised £4000. This will be split between the Trust and the African Global Citizenship Project in line with the artists and donors wishes. 

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