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Stories from John Henderson
About Me

John Henderson - blessed with a rural up-bringing in Scotland

John Henderson

Not long after his appointment to the High School of Stirling as its Primary 5 teacher in the early 1930s, my father, James Nicoll Kerr Henderson (JNK) met, and then married in 1934, the Infants One Teacher there - one Nancy Telfer of Falkirk. Nancy gave birth to my big sister in Causewayhead in 1936, and then, despite strong medical advice not to risk her life again, she - God bless her - bore me there too, without undue mishap, in 1939.

I was told in later years that Jim and Nancy set up home in 1934/35 in a newly-built 300 Headridge bungalow at 17 Easter Cornton Road, Causewayhead and that it was named 'Revoan' after a particularly memorable week in JNK's life in 1932 trekking in the Cairngorms. Then, on JNK's promotion to a First Assistantship at Carmuirs School, Falkirk around 1942 during WW2, we flitted to Alma Street, Falkirk. My memories of this period in my life are a bit hazy of course, but I do remember that the Alma Street house was a 'two-down, three-up kind, with coomb-seil walls in the bedrooms upstairs. I also recall being taken to Carmuirs School by my father when I was a precocious four year old and not lasting long because of my bad behaviour in the playground, and my learning being well beyond what I was being asked to do by the already over-stretched teacher of the First Intake Class.

My father was appointed to his first Primary School Headship out at Banknock, Kilsyth in 1944, and it was there that I joined Infants I on a more permanent basis. The schoolhouse was a lovely villa surrounded by wonderful farmland for playing in, plus, of course, convenient burns for guddlin' in. The village schooling was great, and, as a mad-keen footballer, and the school 'goalie' eventually in Primary 3, I had the delight of meeting my hero, 'Geordie' Young of Rangers and Scotland, at a match on the village blaes football pitch atop the local 'bing' in honour of Banknock United's winning of the Scottish Juvenile Cup.

JNK in 1932

The year 1949 saw us relocated in Cambusbarron Schoolhouse from where I experienced equally happy rural days throughout the rest of my village and town schooling years. My time free from schooling centred on being a ball-boy for Stirling Albion when they were the 'yo-yo' team of Division A and B, playing tennis at the Kings Park, eventually becoming Boy Champion, and taking great pride in playing County cricket as a wicket-keeper/batsman from 1954 onwards. As to more serious things, mention must be made of my six demanding years of ultimately successful study at the School on the Rock based on a lot of real hard slog, becoming a School Prefect, learning to be a leader in school rugby, cricket, athletics and tennis, helping with the business side of producing the school magazine, and willingly participating in choir concerts and operas. Our removal to Bannockburn Schoolhouse in 1956 took in my sixth year at the High School, where, on Saturday mornings, I captained an un-beaten first rugby XV, and then, on Saturday afternoons, played outside-left for Bannockburn Amateurs F.C. This latter, exciting, but short-lived period of trying to achieve a crazy ambition of becoming a professional soccer player, not only brought about my acceptance of training experience with Third Lanark FC at Cathkin, Glasgow, but also a very brief trial game for Stirling Albion from which Tam Fergusson, the renowned manager, dismissed me at half-time with a ten shilling note and advice to 'take the first bus back to Bannockburn, son'. However, not only Tam Fergusson rejected me. Bob Shankly at Third Lanark saw no future for me in soccer at the professional level either.

Attending Glasgow University and Jordanhill College followed from 1957-62. At the College, I not only took distinctions in Physical Education, Primary Education and Secondary School Mathematics, but I also made a bit of a name for myself as a prodigious goal kicker with the nationally successful College rugby team, averaging over 200 points per season for six years, and eventually playing representative rugby for Glasgow. However, much more importantly, I met my future wife Olive early on in our teacher training at Jordanhill, and eventually, during my final year at college, I persuaded her to marry me as soon as we had built a 'nest-egg' from our respective starting years in teaching. The 'nest-egg' was small, but none the less we were married in 1963 in North Kelvinside Church, Glasgow.

A newly built semi-detached 'chalet' in Torbrex, Stirling was our starter house in 1963 - 'capitalists' with a mortgage of 26 a month on a salary of 770 per annum! It was tight, particularly with Evan's arrival in June 1964, but we managed somehow. The nearness of our house to my job over the fence as Maths/PE teacher in the new High School of Stirling was very handy, not only for the extra night classes I did to supplement my pittance salary, but also for my commitment to voluntary after-school work with the rugby teams, the Boys' Brigade at St. Ninians, playing cricket for Stirling County and travelling to continue my rugby playing career with Jordanhill College.

In August 1965 I was promoted to the post of Assistant in P.E. at Glasgow University and then two years later to a Special Assistantship in Mathematics and Games at a private school, Belmont House, in Newton Mearns. We moved again in 1968 to allow me to take up an appointment as village dominie at St. Cyrus Primary School, Montrose, and it was here that both Kerr and Lindsay were born in 1968 and 1970 respectively. The children's upbringing continued thereafter in Schoolhouse, Gargunnock, Stirling from 1971, after I had been appointed head of the village primary school there. In 1974 I gained a post as Lecturer in Primary Education at Moray House College of Education, Edinburgh, but, rather than go to the city, we bought and renovated a big flat in the Riverside, Stirling before cashing in just over two years later to purchase a modern bungalow back in Gargunnock.

Most of my leisure time away from students, wife, and children, apart from taking an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in Education and English Literature with the Open University (1971-74), was devoted to being, ..... a Gargunnock Church Elder - a Community Councillor - an Hon. Secretary of Gargunnock Village and District Interests' Association - a Gala Day Sports' Convener - an actor in, and Stage-Manager of, Gargunnock Drama Group - Stirling County RFC's Match Secretary, then Secretary, then Vice-President during its rise to the top from 1970 to 1984, .... and then, from 1984, creating and developing the 'nomadic' Gargunnock Village Cricket Club, and also learning how to survive the linking of cricket playing with unpaid ground duties at Meiklewood Cricket Ground (The MCG) ..... a ground sown, and pavilion built, by our members in 1989/90 ........ funded by my father JNK Henderson, and the estate owner William Scott.  

After retiring from Moray House College in 1994, I combined voluntary service as Stirling County CC Vice-Chairman (Playing) [VCP] with ground responsibilities [in both locations] and 1st XI County team management. The one nick-name that has stuck during my lifetime came from the County players in 1995 - 'VCP' - and I even bought a personalised number plate for our Toyota Corolla to celebrate - J 15 VCP !! Subsequently, my lengthy years of service to various sports in the Stirling area were formally honoured in 1996 by Stirling District Sports Council and the Scottish Sports Council in the form of an inscribed crystal bowl. Thereafter, in 1997, despite my ongoing onerous 'horticultural' commitments at Meiklewood and Williamfield [and my age - 58!], I was selected to play cricket for Scotland Over 40 year-olds, and thus gained my first, and only, international 'cap' playing against a corresponding North-West England team in Liverpool.

Then, building on our experiences of an around-the-world trip to New Zealand and Australia in order to visit relatives, and see the sights, Olive and I decided in 1998, 'to escape' and make a maisonette in our most popular holiday destination [from 1984 onwards] - Paphos, Cyprus - our second home. Eventually, after we had traded-in our maisonette for a large villa [with swimming pool!] in Emba in the year 2000, this became our only owned residence! From then on, we have gradually increased the time we spend there to 49 weeks each year!"

"Our excuse? ..... Och! Scotland seems such a cold, wet place to live in as age catches up with folk!"

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