My name is Gregor Addison and I was at Newbattle in 1988. I studied English/Philosophy and this gave me enough to carry on to university. Up until that year students had been able to study for two years at Newbattle, but the Conservative Government changed that and my year only got one year. We were lucky enough to be able to progress with that one year behind us and I went on to Aberdeen University where I studied English/Celtic (Gaelic) and from there to Jordanhill to take a PGCE in English/Gaelic. I taught Gaelic for a while as a supply teacher and then got more permanent work with Clydebank College (now, since the recent merger, West College). I have taught here for 16 years now, teaching English.
I think Newbattle was special to me because it allowed me to engage with education in a more personal way than I had before. I was able to discover a passion for lifelong learning and felt supported but not marshalled – I was able to develop my own thoughts and share those with other students. I have a lot of wonderful memories of Newbattle, mainly of the wonderful relationships I enjoyed, the friends I made, the beautiful surroundings, the day trips to Melrose Abbey and other places, playing rounders on the lawn, drinking in the Black Bull and the Justinlees, walking out to Lauder with one of the other students, or out to Lasswade, being handy for Edinburgh and being taken in for plays and shows. It was a fantastic experience and I still encounter moments when I think – ‘Oh yeah, they told me that at Newbattle.’ That’s real lifelong learning.
It was while I was at Newbattle that I developed a love for poetry and for prose writing and I have had some success with this. I recently had poems included in Carcanet’s Oxford Poet’s Anthology 2013, one of those poems appearing in the Scotsman as the poem of the week, and I have some chance of publishing a collection of my own next year (hopefully with Carcanet). Hopefully, I’ll be able to add something to the tradition of writers and poets connected with Newbattle, such as Archie Hind, W. S. Graham, George Mackay Brown and Edwin Muir.