Independent school Gordonstoun has named retained firefighter Richard Devey as its new headteacher.

Devey, 53, says he will continue to respond to emergency call-outs, making him the first active firefighter in charge of an independent school. He joined the crew based on the school’s Moray campus, outside Elgin, when he moved to Gordonstoun as a teacher in 1992.

The unit is the only one in the UK to have a fire engine crewed by under-18s since pupils at the school make up the rest of the firefighters. All pupils at Gordonstoun volunteer for one of the school’s nine community and rescue services, which also include the Coastguard and Lifeguards.

Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne but not officially a member of the royal family, is a former member of the Gordonstoun fire brigade. His uncle Prince Charles and grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh also attended the school.

Devey said: “Inspiring a willingness in the next generation to provide service to the community is more relevant than it’s ever been, so I hope to combine on-call duties as a retained firefighter with this important new role.

“At Gordonstoun we believe it is very important students are willing to put the needs of others ahead of their own.  This develops a sense of social responsibility and compassion towards people from all walks of life and the satisfaction of helping others without expectation of reward.”

Devey has attended more than 230 incidents which include rescuing a horse from a ditch and the Elgin floods in 1997 and 2000 when the Gordonstoun crew spent days pumping water out of people’s homes.

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He said: “I was delighted that HM inspectors recently rated Gordonstoun as ‘outstanding’, but we can always do more to make sure every student achieves their potential. I also want to open up Gordonstoun’s life-changing opportunities to as many young people as possible and I will continue to support the build-up of the funds of the recently announced Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation.

“I am a strong believer in challenging young people during their education, both inside and outside the classroom.  As the University of Edinburgh research into Gordonstoun’s unique curriculum found, the out of classroom learning experiences at Gordonstoun have a life-long impact and help us to educate the leaders of tomorrow so that they know how to handle responsibility with compassion and thoughtfulness.”

Devey has previously been deputy head, a head of department and most recently Gordonstoun’s director of international development. He played a vital role in the school’s recent announcement that it will be opening its first international schools in China.

Principal Lisa Kerr said: “Richard has a wonderful mix of experience which promotes the unique Gordonstoun ethos whilst also ensuring it remains at the forefront of educational innovation in character education.

“He is hugely popular amongst pupils and staff, he has been at the heart of some of the most significant changes at the school. Gordonstoun’s work has just been described as ‘sector leading’ by HM Inspectors from Education Scotland and I have no doubt that Richard will help us build on this and achieve our vision as part of a dynamic new leadership team.”

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