House and Years at Fettes:
Qualifications & Career:
LL.B. – University of Edinburgh
LL.M. (Air & Space Law) – McGill University
M.Sc. (Air Transport Management) – Cranfield University
I’ve always had a great interest in the aviation industry and have been fortunate enough to combine this with my legal training. Following a period in private practice, I have held various in-house legal positions, starting off with an aviation loss adjusting company, as well as in the airline sector, where I was in-house counsel for Britannia Airways/TUI and I now head up the Legal Department at CIT Aerospace International, a Dublin based aircraft leasing company, with a portfolio of 180 aircraft.
What is your most cherished memory from your time at Fettes?
There are a few, but my time at Fettes would not have been what it was, had it not been for the strong friendships and sense of community which developed, particularly amongst our house year. A few years back, we celebrated our 20th anniversary of leaving Fettes and with the exception two individuals, who are currently working in the Middle East and had valid excuses for not attending, the entire house year got together in Edinburgh. This included two of our year who flew over from the US and another who came up from Newcastle on the eve of the due date for his second child.
Specific moments which stick in my mind though, are playing the drum on the Castle Esplanade as part of the combined Scottish Schools CCF Pipe Band parade – 150 pipers and drummers can make a lot of noise! The other is the time immediately after leaving, when I went on the school trip with Den Mather to Zanskar and Ladakh in northern India, which truly was a once in a lifetime experience.
And your least?
Standing on top of Young’s in my rugby shorts whilst it was sleeting (sideways), and I was completely soaked and cold – it was a very far cry from my previous life in Hong Kong.
What event or personality left a lasting impression on you?
Neville Clark who was my housemaster will always stand out in my mind as a truly remarkable individual. I recall that a cleaning chore which I swapped with another had not been done and I tried to make the point that I was not to blame for this failure. In his clear and deep voice, he said “Thomas, you can delegate authority, but not responsibility”, and it is this sense of accountability for one’s actions and fairness which he instilled in all of us, which has always stuck with me.
Were you a conscientious student?
I had my moments and no doubt applied myself more, as I progressed with my schooling. Geography with Adrian Hall and Economics with Den Mather were good fun and hence I invested a corresponding amount of effort. Alas the same can’t be said for Physics and Chemistry.
Outside the classroom, how did you spend your free time at Fettes?
When I first started, every Sunday afternoon was filled with the culinary delight of a trip to Pizzaland in Hanover Street. Although my taste buds developed during my time at Fettes, having a meal somewhere with a couple of friends was always a highpoint.
I also enjoyed some of the outdoor pursuits and remember trying to go snow holing in the Cairngorms, but a lack of snow meant it was off to a bothy near the shores of a frozen Loch Morlich. Another highlight was going sailing in the Firth of Forth during the summer months, where a good strong breeze was virtually guaranteed – it was such a wonderful contrast to sitting in a classroom.