Lathallan honours former teacher

Donald King, was honoured with a memorial service at Lathallan school last Saturday 29 August
Donald King, was honoured with a memorial service at Lathallan school last Saturday 29 August

Mr King, known affectionately by his pupils as “Kangy”, died in January of this year after battling ill health for many years.

Donald King was born in Kent in 1925, but swayed by the proximity of RAF Leuchars, opted to study at St Andrews University. After service in the RAF, he returned to St Andrews and spent the rest of his life north of the Border.

A great fan of “DIY”, his “make do and mend” philosophy was a strong guiding principle in his life, and was a very useful attribute for a prep school master of that time. It was said of him that there was nothing he could not do with a coathanger.

Mr King arrived at Lathallan in 1950 just after the school relocated from Fife to Johnshaven. With Raymond Burton, later to become Headmaster, they formed a formidable team and made the school the first choice in the North East at that time.

Both teachers had a passion for sports, in particular Hockey, and helped to make Lathallan unbeatable on the sports field for many years. At first, he taught history, Latin and scripture but he was a natural choice to introduce the Nuffield Science syllabus in the 1960’s.

By the time he retired in 1984 he was at the forefront of computer teaching, using Sinclair ZX80s and 81s. He retired to a house he had built with his own hands in Clashnessie, Sutherland, and dedicated his remaining years to crofting.

However, through a network of Old Lathallians he was kept informed of developments at Lathallan, which gradually transformed itself from prep school for boys to the prestigious and successful school of today.

He was particularly pleased to hear of Lathallan’s plans for a new science centre, and when told that one of the laboratories was to be named after him, simply exclaimed “extraordinary!”.

Over the years Donald King had taught some world renowned scientists.

Professor Hugh Macintyre of Dalhousie University, Canada, Professor Mark Ashton of Yale University, USA, Doctor Ron McKay, stem cell pioneer, and Doctor Alan Todd, expert in acceleration and fusion technology, all started their scientific carers in Mr King’s modest laboratory at Lathallan.

Present Headmaster, Richard Toley, honouring Mr King’s memory said: “Lathallan is now the first choice independent school in the North East, and our strength in science teaching owes much to the pioneering spirit of teachers like Donald King.

“When our new Science Centre is up and running in 2016 we will not only look forward to a glowing future, but we can look back on the early days of science teaching at the school, and thank the vision of Mr King and others of his ilk.”