Rolls of honour of past captains, sports champions and dux are an illustration of prestigious Strathallan School’s history.
And part of that story for 50 years is Frank Oates, 88, the man who has added almost half of the names of pupils past and present.
Every year since the early 1970s, signwriter Frank, from Auchterarder, has carefully inscribed the names of the independent Perthshire school‘s latest leaders onto wooden boards.
His painstaking work can be seen hanging proudly in Strathallan School’s grand entrance halls.
Although well beyond retirement age, Frank continues to do the job he has dedicated most of his life to.
Taking a break from meticulously crafting the latest golden letters, he told us how he still loves the art he learned as a teenager.
He said: “I should be retired really but, well, it makes me happy. I’d rather keep doing this than sit at home.”
Among the more notable names Frank has inscribed in gold are Scottish rugby internationalists George Horne and Murphy Walker and Scottish international field hockey player Nicki Cochrane.
He has also added the name of Ciara Elwis, an EMMY Award winner who has scored music for TV shows including Derry Girls, Sex Education and Ricky Gervais’ After Life.
Originally from Manchester, Frank’s artistic talent and steady hand showed when he was a schoolboy.
He said: “When I was at school I missed a lot of lessons because the teachers would come to our classroom and say ‘can we borrow Frank Oates to do a drawing on the blackboard?'”
Before National Service called, Frank learned his craft at Stockport College. He then spent two years as a signwriter with the Royal Scots Greys, where his job involved painting tanks.
Frank Oates’ first job at Strathallan School in the 1970s
On his return to civilian life, he resumed his trade and in 1957 he moved north with wife Doreen and daughter Joanne to work for a firm in Auchterarder.
It was in that job that he first went to Strathallan School, and he continued his annual visits to update the boards when he started working for himself in 1986.
Frank’s work over the decades has also included painting on lorries, cars and buildings.
He said: “Now, of course it’s a bit less busy because of graphics.
“But, I’m 88 now and I still love what I do.
“I’ve not made a fortune, but I’m happy!”
Traditional signwriters like Frank don’t rely on technology but write freehand, using high-quality brushes and specialist enamels which will stand the test of time.
Frank slowly and meticulously paints letter by letter. It took him four days at Strathallan to add over 200 names to 25 boards before the start of the new term.
And Strathallan School places great value on his contribution, much admired by parents of new pupils as they arrive for the first time.
Headmaster Mark Lauder said: “Thanks to Frank, there are thousands of names in gold on our walls.
“What a fantastic contribution and service to the school – for many more years too I hope!”
The new term started at Strathallan on August 30, with the most pupils ever in its 102-year history.
For the first time, it has welcomed five and six-year-olds to its prep school.
And perhaps Frank will be adding some of their names to the boards in a few years’ time.