I was at Newbattle from September 2000 to June 2001. I had a really good experience. Met people that I wouldn’t otherwise have got to know so well, from all backgrounds and airts and pairts. It is a very special place but it also makes demands and in speaking with others who have been to Newbattle, it offers you a chance to discover what you can do for yourself and those who take up the baton can find it changes their lives. Going to Newbattle isn’t an easy option and is challenging for many.
People are attracted to NAC for a myriad of reasons. I left school when I was fifteen years old, and I needed to know (35 years later) if I was capable of academic study. My imagined time at the beautiful abbey reading literature under the 500-year-old oak on a summer day bore no resemblance to the reality of the experience it has to be said. It was an interesting time for many reasons, some of which were related to the ‘Scottish Studies’ course which I elected to do. It’s telling I think, that while I can’t remember when other things happened in my life, I never forget the year I was a student at Newbattle.
It gave me time for real reflection, time for me to consider priorities (hence the reference to them not always being about studying at Newbattle, but about people), time to consider the country that I live in and the politics of the country, time to listen to other folk, time to read and time to write, but most important of all, time to think.
I am currently an MSP in the Scottish Parliament.