A FORMER soldier, who was Scotland’s oldest man when he died two years ago at the age of 106, has left almost his entire fortune to his former school.
Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Saunders bequeathed £750,000 to a fund set up to build a new £15 million science and technology centre at Glasgow Academy.
Fundraising for the centre, which has been named after Lt-Col Saunders, a civil engineer, began four years ago and on Monday pupils had first use of its 15 labs, 178-seat lecture theatre, food and technology department and special study facilities for Advanced Higher pupils.
Director of external relations Malcolm McNaught said: “Frank may have left Glasgow Academy in 1923 but he always kept his links with the school and I think he was keen to do something which he felt was going to be significant in terms of the things he was interested in.
“A year before he died, he came to a school reunion and he was the oldest person there by about 40 years. We talked about the new science complex at that stage.
“He went home and had a good think and decided it was something he was going to support.
“We were delighted when we received the call from his solicitor. It was the biggest bequest we received for the centre and represented pretty much his estate.”
He said Lt Col Saunders would also be honoured in a gallery of alumni who had made distinguished contributions to science and technology.
Lt Col Saunders, a Justice of the Peace and for many years the leader of the Conservative opposition on Central Regional Council, qualified as a chartered civil engineer before beginning a 25-year career in the British Army.
As one of Churchill’s “bitter weeds” – a survivor of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in 1939 – he was one of many British troops evacuated following defeat at Dunkirk in 1940 and the Nazi occupation of France. During the war, he served in five countries as part of the Royal Engineers, fighting with the Western Desert Force in Egypt and the 8th Army in North Africa.
As a Conservative, he was elected to the former Stirling Burgh Council in 1964 and remained a councillor following the setting up of Central Regional Council after local government reorganisation.
However, he fell out with his party in 1994 over local government re-organisation and stood as an independent a year later, narrowly failing to get elected.
A lifelong drinker and smoker, he said at the time “I don’t like the word ‘elderly’. I prefer ‘mature’. I am still in possession of all my faculties and I can easily walk ten miles a day.”
Lt Col Saunders was the first person to be given the freedom of Stirling in 2008. He died on 19 March, 2013.