Words With Mark

Major General Mark Strudwick CBE, is a retired British Army officer, who served as General Officer Commanding Scotland and Governor of Edinburgh Castle from 1997 to 2000. In this week of remembrance, he shares an insight into his life…

What’s your connection to the Lothians?

I was born and educated in the south of England before training at Sandhurst, but I have strong family connections in Scotland. My late wife, Jan, was from Edinburgh and my children studied at University in Edinburgh. Then, of course, there is my lifelong role with the Royal Scots Regiment. Now retired, I’m chair of the Trustees at the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh. Since leaving the Army in 2000, my family home has been close to Linlithgow.

 Have you a favourite place to visit locally?

I love history, and living where we do in West Lothian, we’re spoiled for choice. The castles would always come top of the list to visit: Edinburgh, of course, Stirling Castle and, very close to home, Linlithgow Palace. I’m chair of the Trustees of the Scottish National War Memorial and visiting that is always very special.

 Are you a ‘gloomy-fog-over-the-castle’ or a ‘summer-on-Princes Street-gardens’ type?

The sunshine, definitely. My late wife and I were married in St Giles Cathedral, and we were privileged to have our reception at the Castle. In general, I like nothing better than being outdoors on a fine day, walking, fishing or gardening with my wife, Sue.

How would you introduce us to your career/life/passion?

I was commissioned into The Royal Scots in 1966 and appointed Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion of The Royal Scots in 1984. My enjoyment of The Royal Scots Club on Abercromby Place is on ongoing link to the Regiment, my colleagues and friends, past and present. It was founded in 1919 by Colonel Lord Henry Scott, fourth son of the sixth Duke of Buccleuch as a living War Memorial and a tribute to all those Royal Scots who fell in the Great War. We try to ensure it’s a home from home for all members, a way of giving back to all the families who have served in some way, and these days, is also a comfortable base.

During the Great War, 100,000 Royal Scots served in thirty-five battalions. Forty per cent were wounded and 11,213 killed.  Most families in Edinburgh and the Lothians will have been affected by military service. I am immensely proud of all those who served in the Regiment. We have over 2000 members and they are very supportive of the Club and its ethos.

In this year, the 100th anniversary of the Great War, we are mindful of those we lost, but also those who are serving all over the world today. We’re currently involved in the very practical campaign, Tactical Manoeuvres, for the war veteran charity ‘There But Not There’, part of a nationwide initiative to raise £15 million for the armed forces. Made by veterans, our Perspex ‘Tommies’, are 10 inch tokens of remembrance of the true heroism of the soldiers in World War I.

Is there a typical day?  What does it involve?

Now I’m ‘retired’ I’m as busy as ever, but it means there is no typical day as such. Monday is our gardening day, and I tend to spend one day a week in Edinburgh attending meetings and fulfilling my Trustee obligations. Next year is the centenary of the Royal Scots Club, so we’re in the thick of planning for that.

What’s your greatest achievement so far – personally or professionally?

Commanding the 1st Battalion The Royal Scots in Germany was the highlight of my career, everything else that has come since is a true bonus. It has been a great honour to serve with men from Edinburgh, the Lothians and Peeblesshire; their skill, commitment, and ability to build up relationships with local communities was inspiring. Knowing that the Armed Forces have inherited the spirit and courage of our forefathers is, for me, and my family immeasurable. My son is also a soldier serving in the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

 For more information about the Royal Scots Club:  www.royalscotsclub.com 


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