Avenue of oaks to honour fallen heroes at Glenalmond College

© SuppliedFrom left: Hamish Spencer -Nairn, Rory Spencer-Nairn,Warden Hugh Ouston, Jamie Spencer.
From left: Hamish Spencer -Nairn, Rory Spencer-Nairn,Warden Hugh Ouston, Jamie Spencer.

A poignant tree-planting ceremony was held to honour a Perthshire school’s fallen heroes.

A total of 157 oaks were placed in the grounds of Glenalmond College, representing the 157 former pupils who lost their lives during the First World War.

The idea was proposed by pupil Rory Spencer-Nairn, 17, to mark the centenary of the global conflict and breathe new life into an unused patch of land.

It is hoped the oaks will still be growing strong when the bi-centenary comes around.

The trees were donated by Rory’s father Jamie and uncle Hamish, who are part of a well known family of Fife farmers and landowners.

On Thursday afternoon, the first avenue of trees was planted, with the help of youngest pupil Louis Molyneaux. The school plans to install signs to tell visitors the story behind the oaks, and explain how they symbolise the Old Glenalmond boys – also known as OGs – who died for their country.

© Supplied
Piper Lawrence Kinge with pupils Honor Reynolds and Louis Molyneaux.

Jamie said: “The seed for this idea was planted when my brother went to pick up Rory at the school on the Friday before Remembrance Sunday.

“My brother made a comment that they should plant some trees in this empty bit of ground.

“Rory had told Hamish that the school had been reading out the names of the 157 old boys who had died in the war. And the idea grew from there.”

Jamie and Hamish are both former pupils of Glenalmond, as is Jamie’s oldest son Alistair.

He said: “There are four of us who have been through the school and we thought this was a nice way to give something back. Something that will be there for many years to come.”

Jamie’s great, great, great uncle John Nairn made a similar gesture many years ago, when he put forward a legacy to assist the creation of Kirkcaldy’s war memorial. It was after his son Ian was killed at the Somme.

Glenalmond College, a co-educational boarding and day school, already commemorates the youngest OG who died on the Western Front, Francis Faithfull. Pupils regularly make a pilgrimage to his grave.

The school also runs two scholarships named after two pupils who died in the First World War: Alfred Raeburn and Arthur Gowan.

College Warden Hugh Ouston said: “We wanted the oaks to be as prominent as possible and we will be putting up signs to make sure people know why they are there and what they represent.

“This will be both an environmental enhancement, as well as an explicit memorial. These oaks are all about the future, and it’s the future that these men laid down their lives for.”