Peter MacDonald (OK ex-staff) died April 11, 2024

Peter MacDonald taught at King’s, Glenalmond and Shrewsbury.

When A-level English numbers grew dramatically in the summer of 1993, it was a happy coincidence that Peter MacDonald, recently Head of English at Glenalmond College, happened to write to King’s offering his services as a part-time English teacher, following his move to London. It was clear that they had secured the services of a teacher dedicated to his subject and to the skilful craft of the classroom. These qualities made themselves immediately felt, and it was not long before Peter’s talents were sought after for GCSE and for English teaching in the Junior School, where his work provided an important link between Junior and Senior School curricula, leading eventually to his full-time appointment. Peter’s deep and infectious love of literature and of reading, his immense professionalism and the breadth of his interests make him a fine schoolmaster. Many former pupils will have cause to be grateful for his painstaking explanation of literary texts, and no one could forget his enthusiastic reading of Burns in Scots dialect, his observant eye for linguistic detail in Chaucer or his lucid
grasp of tragic theory informed by his classical education. Peter has great care for the individual intellectual and emotional development of his pupils: his attention to each of their needs is characteristic of his generous spirit and shrewd insight.

In the department, Peter readily took on his share of its work: gently chivvying colleagues to carry out their oral examinations and co-ordinating the inevitable paperwork from examination boards. He has been a vital staff
presence in the Chamber Choir, giving all sorts of loyal, practical support to its activities. See Peter marshalling a group of boys round a foreign capital, and you recognise the wisdom of long experience.

His warm, engaging personality and his witty, often irreverent, humour make him a popular and respected colleague too. He is, of course, a particular defender of all things Scottish, and his legendary drives or flights northwards to his beloved island and his boat show something of his spirit of adventure and his and Catriona’s knowledge and love of the natural world. Peter is a formidable sailor, ornithologist and naturalist. To parade such expertise is not in his nature, but pupils and colleagues have frequently been educated by Peter’s knowledge of the terminology of sailing and the sea, what a wild orchid looks like or how to recognise the swoop of a falcon, all of which in turn enhances an understanding of some of the timeless themes of literature.

Peter and Catriona (who has equally been a loyal supporter of countless KCS events, despite a very busy City career) will be missed by many at King’s to whom they have given such unstinting good advice and friendship. It is, perhaps, a particular irony, that as Catriona’s job took them to Jersey, they went as far from Scotland m the UK as is possible; but they had plenty of sailing and an island of considerable dash and style, world-famous for its banking operations, which suited them well.