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David Whyte: Death of Cupar-born Scotland rugby player and Golspie headteacher, 81

David Whyte. Photo Supplied by Bell Baxter Former Pupils' Association

He played rugby for Scotland, and was part of the British athletics team but for St Andrews and Oxford-educated David Whyte, becoming a high school rector was among his proudest achievements.

Born in Cupar, Fife, on February 21, 1940 David James Whyte was the fourth of five children for Helen and Alexander Whyte.

Helen raised David and his siblings Helen, Moira, Sandy and Graeme and while her husband worked as a lab technician at Guardbridge Paper Mill.

Sadly David’s father died when he was just 13.

Sporting start

Having attended Castlehill School he moved on to Bell Baxter High School.

It was here both David’s academic and sporting abilities became evident.

David Whyte shown centre with the rugby ball, as he captained his team for the 57-58 season. Photo courtesy of Bell Baxter Former Pupils Association.

Not only did he captain the school’s rugby team and excel in athletics, he also attained a Harkness Exhibition bursary to study English Language and Literature at St Andrews University.

While at St Andrew’s he captained the university rugby team and the Scottish Universities team.

In a tribute from Scottish Rugby on hearing of David’s death his sporting achievements were documented.

It said: “It was noted that on one incredible weekend in 1959, David played sevens for Howe of Fife and then headed straight to Paris, where he won the first of his eight Great Britain Athletics vests.

“A Glasgow Herald article from April 1959 stated that David ‘won the 100 yards in 10.7 against a strong wind, also the high jump with 5′ 8 and the hop, step and jump with 41′ 9’.”

30-year record holder

David won the Eric Liddell Trophy for Outstanding Achievement at the Scottish Schoolboys Championship, not once but twice.

The most amazing accolade was that his Scottish long jump record stood for 30 years unbroken.

He won the British Junior Long Jump Championship in 1958, and the British Senior Long Jump Championship in 1959.

David Whyte competing in an athletics competition.

During his time at University, he competed internationally travelling to Russia, Finland, France, Ireland and England and despite being a modest 5ft 8, he also excelled in the high jump too.

Oxford Blue

David had met Judith McKechnie at school and they were at St Andrew’s together.

In 1963 they married on September 20, in St Mary’s Church, Dairsie and moved down to Oxford.

David achieved his diploma in education from Oxford and also there earned the prestigious Oxford Blue.

The ‘blue’ is only awarded to members of the rugby team who play in the Oxford-Cambridge match, which David did in 1963.

From 1962-67 David also played for the Barbarians rugby team.

Beating England

David and Judith returned to Scotland when David took up his first teaching job at Strathallan School in Perth, where they lived in a cottage on the grounds.

He played for Edinburgh Wanderers and won his first cap for Scotland playing against Wales at Murrayfield on February 6, 1965.

He subsequently played in the draw against the Auld Enemy at Twickenham where the only try from Scotland came from David, taking the final score to 3-3.

However, later that year in 1966, facing England again, David scored the winning try taking the score to 6-3.

Scotland versus England international rugby match. David Whyte plunges over the line to score the winning try.

As a winger he made 13 appearances for Scotland in total, with 11 of them coming in the Five Nations.

Family and work life

David and Judith went on to have four sons: Stephen, Geoffrey, Barnaby and Sebastian, and as a family they moved around Scotland in support of David’s teaching career.

Always involved in the communities they lived in, David became a Church of Scotland elder and remained so for more than 50 years.

From Strathallan School David went to Kirkcaldy High School.

And from Kirkcaldy he moved to Brechin High, before Arbroath Academy.

David taught English while in other settings Judith taught French.

Further north

Wending their way up the country, Peterhead Academy saw David take up his first senior position as deputy head.

While there his passion for rugby remained and he helped establish Peterhead Rugby Club and was chairman of the local National Trust.

Judith Whyte said: “In 1983 we moved to Golspie.

“Although he loved every school he had been in, in different ways, he really was very proud of his time at Golspie High School where he was rector.”

He encouraged excellence in a wide variety of activities and the school won many awards, competitions and prizes under his leadership.

School shows were always a highlight and introduced rugby for both boys and girls.

He remained rector until his retirement in 2002.

A brilliant grandfather

A love of travel remained with David throughout his life.

Touring Scotland when the boys were younger, he and Judith made trips across the world in later years including trips to see Geoff and his family in South Africa.

David Whyte.

The couple also had 11 grandchildren – four grandsons and seven granddaughters.

Claire Whyte, David’s daughter-in-law said: “He was an absolutely brilliant grandfather.

“We had wonderful holidays together and he was someone who we all loved to spend time with.”

Still competitive

In retirement David kept that competitive spirit turning his hand to chess and bridge, which he was particularly good at.

“I think when he could no longer do the physical activities he loved he found another way to compete.

“He won lots of cups and competitions playing bridge.”

He was a founder member of East Sutherland Rotary Club receiving the Paul Harris Fellowship for services to Rotary.

In 2019 the couple moved to Dunfermline to be nearer family.

David passed away peacefully, after a short illness in Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, aged 81.

You can read the family’s announcement here.