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Duke of Edinburgh: Unseen photos revealed and how he personally saved a charity

Duke of Edinburgh. on board the boat Diligent.
Duke of Edinburgh. on board the boat Diligent.

Previously unseen images of The Duke of Edinburgh during his schooldays at Gordonstoun have been released today ahead of his funeral.

The images were taken by the great-uncle of a former student who contacted the school following the duke’s death.

They show him in 1937, sailing one of Gordonstoun’s boats Diligent, and displaying his confidence at the helm – as well as his washing-up skills.

Yesterday, more than 100 students and staff took part in an early morning run in tribute to Prince Philip. Morning runs were a compulsory part of the Gordonstoun curriculum until the 1990s.

The run of just over two miles took them from Gordonstoun House to the coastguard watchtower, a building that replaced a wooden hut which Prince Philip helped build in 1935.

Duke of Edinburgh Edinburgh on board the boat Diligent. Copyright Major B Varvill R.A.M.C

At midday today, Gordonstoun’s young sailors will lay a wreath off the coast of Hopeman Harbour from aboard the school’s 80ft sail training boat, Ocean Spirit of Moray.

Onshore, a lone student piper will play whilst displaying the Duke of Edinburgh’s coat of arms on a banner presented to the Gordonstoun pipe band by The Queen in 2019.

Charity was on verge of bankruptcy

Meanwhile, the duke’s forthright manner and determination to get things done has been recalled by a charity he saved from folding by taking charge of it himself.

In the mid 1990s auditors advised that The Outward Bound Trust, co-founded by his former Gordonstoun head teacher and mentor, Kurt Hahn, in 1941, was on the verge of bankruptcy.

The duke, who had been the charity’s patron since 1953, attended the next board meeting in person.  When a trustee recommended the charity be wound up and all assets disposed of, Prince Philip thanked him for his input and then told the rest of the board: “Now we shall proceed with rescuing Outward Bound.”

He then sacked the chairman and took the role himself, before dismissing the chief executive and most of the trustees. He appointed new staff and trustees and enlisted the help of supporters to lend money to the charity and underwrite its debts.

Sir Chris Bonington, who was on the board at the time, said: “I had just been appointed as a trustee and saw him in action. He was the best chair I have ever come across.

Duke of Edinburgh Loch Eil 1991

“He let people have their say but, once they wandered off the point, he firmly brought them back, driving actions and keeping meetings short.”

The Duke of Edinburgh remained in the post until 1999 and rebuilt the trust which became his longest standing charity connection.

‘We owe him a huge debt of gratitude’

The first Outward Bound centre in Scotland was established in 1949 at the Moray Sea School and in 1977 the charity moved to its current centre at Loch Eil in Lochaber.

Nick Barrett, the current chief executive, said: “What people don’t know is that every year the Duke of Edinburgh made time in his diary to visit an Outward Bound centre. Without media, just some staff and the young people at the centre.

“He spent hours talking to everyone, even in his 90s. Without his intervention, Outward Bound would not be here today, and for that alone we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”

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