Businessman leaves £2.7m for poor children

George Watson's provides scholarships for poorer pupils. Picture: Rob McDougall
George Watson's provides scholarships for poorer pupils. Picture: Rob McDougall
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A BUSINESSMAN has left the bulk of his £4 million fortune to the private Scottish school where he was a pupil to help children from poorer backgrounds.

Bachelor John Martin, 84, has given most of his fortune to George Watson’s College in ­Edinburgh, where he was taught as a boy.

It will go to the school’s George Watson’s Family Foundation, which provides scholarships to help youngsters from less privileged backgrounds.

Mr Martin died in ­Edinburgh in December, having made a fortune from decades working in ­agriculture.

His published will has revealed he had an estate worth £3,896,469.82 when he died, with £1,170,000 being given to friends and various good causes.

He left instructions for the remaining £2.7m to be handed over to the George Watson’s Family Foundation.

The fee-paying school’s former pupils include Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy and rugby player Gavin Hastings, as well as former Scottish secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind and ex-Liberal leader Lord Steel.

Last night, Gareth Edwards, the principal at George Watson’s College, paid tribute to Mr Martin. He said: “Our former pupil John Martin was a great supporter of the school throughout his lifetime and we were very sad to hear of his recent death.

“We are both delighted and humbled by his decision to remember Watson’s and to help us perpetuate the legacy of our founder George Watson.”

A keen cricket fan, Mr ­Martin also left £20,000 to Watsonian Cricket Club in the capital, where he was a regular visitor.

A tribute posted on the club’s website said: “John was a tremendous servant to the club over the years as both a player and loyal supporter. He will be dearly missed by regulars at Myreside.”

The George Watson’s Family Foundation was set up in 1997 and exists to continue the spirit of the legacy left by George Watson, which led to the opening of Watson’s in 1741.

Merchant and banker Watson wanted children from poorer backgrounds to enjoy the quality of education available to those more fortunate.

Mr Martin’s will revealed he left a stocks and shares portfolio worth £3.1m and a £500,000 home in Edinburgh. He had £230,000 in his Bank of Scotland account.

He left £50,000 each to Marie Curie Cancer Care Scotland and Cancer Research UK Scotland.

He gifted £20,000 to Edinburgh’s Marchmont St Giles Church, as well as cash to friends and former employees of his family grain firm JD Martin in Edinburgh, which was sold in 1991 to WN Lindsay.

The Reverend Dr Karen Campbell, minister of Marchmont St Giles, said: “I am delighted to hear that he has left money to the church in his will. He was just a lovely wee man.”