College Welcomes Otaki Scholar

August 29, 2013 at 2:34 PM

For the 70th Otaki Scholar the College welcomed Craig Brownhill Head Boy of Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen, Scotland and recipient of the Otaki Scholarship.

The scholarship commemorates an act of bravery during World War 1 and is awarded to an outstanding pupil at the end of their final year with a five week trip to travel throughout New Zealand.

The history behind the scholarship lies in the sea battle that was fought in the Atlantic in the war and involved Capt Archibald Bisset Smith, a former pupil of Scotland’s Robert Gordon's College.

The vessel Capt Smith was on was New Zealand Shipping Company merchant ship SS Otaki which was critically damaged in March 1917 by a German raider and Capt Smith ordered the ship's evacuation before he went down with the vessel.

Capt Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery and devotion to duty and in 1937 his family presented the Otaki Shield to the college, to be given annually to the school's head boy.

Two years later, to honour his connection with New Zealand, the company added a travelling scholarship to the prize which the New Zealand government assists with funding.

Every year since then, with the exception of the Second World War years, the Otaki Scholar has visited New Zealand.

During Craig’s trip he will visit schools and act as an ambassador to keep the story of the Otaki and its crew alive by retelling the history of the scholarship.

On his arrival at the College Craig was piped in to the MacFarlan Centre by our Pipes and Drums Band piper André Mason, whose commanding tune echoed through the building and drew many staff onlookers to the special occasion.

Craig then took part in a traditional ceremony amongst our Head of College Steve Cole, Head of Pipes and Drums Andrew Lightfoot and Head Boy Sam Grant in welcoming him to Saint Kentigern.

He will now travel throughout New Zealand in his ambassador role spending time with students and being hosted by local families.

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