Norman Drummond – Not Just Visiting

I first met Norman Drummond four years ago when he addressed an Edinburgh headteachers conference.  Our backgrounds were light years apart but the power of his message and the force with which he communicated it, knocked me over.  Tom Farmer described him as ‘an inspirational visionary’.  This ‘inspirational visionary’ has recently been appointed as visiting professor in educational leadership at the University of Edinburgh.

Educated at Merchiston Castle School, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and New College, Edinburgh, he was a Cambridge rugby blue, and later captained the Scottish Universities XV and the army and combined services teams.  Three decades later, his athletic stride survives as does the sportsman’s energy and directness.  These traits mark how Norman Drummond orders his wider life but they are matched by personal warmth, meticulous courtesy and a probing interest in other people.

Armed with a Law degree from Cambridge, he started work as a solicitor in Greenock. After dealing with a two-hour divorce precognition he knew he was not going to be the “smart Edinburgh lawyer” his mother was hoping for. “I wanted to be at the point of need rather than repair,” he explained and decided to enter the Church of Scotland ministry.

Having graduated in divinity he entered the Army chaplaincy service with the Parachute Regiment and the Black Watch, after which he became chaplain at Fettes.  Then, aged 32, he became headmaster of Loretto where he remained for twelve years.  He has served as a BBC Governor, was Chairman of the Broadcasting Council for Scotland and was Chairman of BBC Children in Need.

If that history suggests a firm establishment character, there was always another side to Norman Drummond.  Since his early experiences in Parish Ministries in Easterhouse, Glasgow and West Pilton, Edinburgh, he always endeavoured to “give voice to those who don’t have it” and to develop self-worth and potential in others.

While Parish Minister of Kilmuir and Stenscholl, on Skye, Norman Drummond realised the potential for a centre on Skye to implement his vision of social and community leadership.   Columba 1400 is the UK’s first ever purpose-built International Leadership Centre, specialising in helping young people from underprivileged backgrounds to become leaders.  He started fund-raising in1997 and the first centre was built at Staffin, with a subsequent extension recently opened.  He has shaped his and Columba’s philosophy, on John Buchan’s statement: “Our task is not to put the greatness back into humanity but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already”.   Thousands of teenagers and many adults have made the journey to Skye and returned, having had time, space and peace to evaluate their lives but also challenged to achieve their potential and commit themselves to the service of others.

Columba 1400 designs and delivers residential leadership development experiences, the core of which is with young people from ‘tough realities’, those who have experienced significant personal and social challenges, who have weathered tough times and whose tremendous leadership potential too often goes untapped.  Columba 1400 was recently awarded the Lloyds TSB Scotland/Sunday Mail Better Life Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

His book, The Spirit of Success (Mobiuus, 2005) spells out the message that leadership is about morality not systems.  It asks three questions of every reader: Who are you?  Why are you living and working in the way that you are?  What might you yet become and do with your life?  From the answers to these questions, change develops one-on-one, one-by-one and in partnerships.  If we work with our heart as well as our head, we can get beyond simply functioning and begin to realise our full potential.  Norman Walker said of it: ‘Norman Drummond has a breadth and width of life experience which very few of us will achieve in one lifetime. This richness of experience together with an empathy, understanding and ability to express our own fears and feelings allows his book to touch our souls in a compelling and yet humble way.’

He established his own company, Drummond International, specialising in Executive Coaching, Presentational Skills and Media Management.  He pioneered with the Scottish office, The Change Partnership, the blue chip provider of bespoke confidential coaching to countless top companies and institutions. From 2003 to 2009 Norman was Chairman of Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland.  That life-long record of professional adventure and challenge continues, for not only has Norman Drummond been appointed to the visiting professorship at Edinburgh University, but his new book, The Power of Three, will be published in July by Hodder and Stoughton.

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June’s Lothian Life asks what his appointment at Edinburgh University means and in July we’ll review his new book The Power of Three.

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Alex Wood

Alex Wood has had a varied career in education. He started as an English teacher at Edinburgh’s Craigroyston High School in 1973 and completed his school-based work as Head Teacher at Wester Hailes Education Centre in 2011. In between he worked in community education, was a Learning Support teacher, headed a behaviour support unit, was Head of a special school and worked in Edinburgh’s Education headquarters. He is a member of the Education Committee of St George’s School. Alex is now an Associate at the Scottish Centre for Studies in School Administration (SCSSA) at Moray House and is Secretary of the Scottish Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (SELMAS) as well as being a free-lance writer. His experience however ranges well beyond the worlds of schools and education. For seven years in the 1980s he was an elected member of Edinburgh District Council and he retains a keen interest in the political world. He has a long involvement in genealogy and family history, as a researcher, teacher and writer. He is a member of Edinburgh Common Purpose’s Advisory Group and of the committee of Linlithgow Book Festival. Although he has lived in Linlithgow for over 20 years, and in Edinburgh for the previous 18 years, he remains a loyal fan of his home town football club, Brechin City.

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