Famous Ex-Pupils

Below is a selection of past pupils who have gone on to become famous role models as a result of the successes they have had following their time with us here at St. Ninian's.









John Hendrie

John Hendrie, now retired from a very successful professional football career, is a former pupil of our school. He was heavily involved in the school football team, as well as the local Lennoxtown Boys Club, and has fond memories of his time here. The following is an excerpt from his autobiography”Don’t Call Me Happy”, where he remembers his time in St Ninian’s High School.

I remember when I first went to the secondary school at St Ninian’s and we all went for football team trials. There were two teams and I was distraught when I never made the first team. I initially found myself in the second team and I thought I was better than the people around me. I was very determined though and kept plugging away. Thankfully, within a few weeks I was in the first team, from where I’ve never looked back.

It was with the school team that for the first time I really learnt about discipline. The discipline came from PE teacher, Charlie Higgins, an ex-professional football player who had won the Scottish Cup with Motherwell in the 1950’s. He was a good teacher and funny with some of the things he said. I particularly remember him for instilling in me a sense of discipline. One day we were playing “winner stays on” five-a-side and I had the misfortune to be in a team with boys who didn’t have a clue about football. Our team was taking a pasting from a side which included several of my mates and I became increasingly annoyed when the ball went up against a wall. My frustration boiled over when another kid watching the game decided to amuse himself by kicking away the ball as I chased after it. Bad move! That was that, I just started kicking him out of sheer frustration. But Mr Higgins grabbed me around my neck and yelled “You flaming weasel”. It was his favourite phrase! Nowadays, teachers can’t touch their pupils but Charlie grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and verbally laid into me. He told me that he’d taught my two brothers and they had never behaved like that. This public rebuke gave me a kick up the backside and taught me a good lesson in behaviour. Charlie and a teacher called Jack Friar helped a lot in my development of football skills and advice at school.

We had two other PE teachers at St Ninian’s who were also tough on discipline – Mr Edgar and Mr Brocklehurst. They used to take delight in smacking you on the backside with a sandshoe if you’d forgotten your kit. So it was important to remember to kit – or at least knick someone else’s! Another teacher who was a big help to me was Jack Friar. He was a very good coach, who looked after the team at under-14 and under-15 levels.”

Below is a resume of John’s fantastic football career:

1981-1984 Coventry City
1983-1984 Hereford United (Loan)
1984-1988 Bradford City
1988-1989 Newcastle United
1989-1990 Leeds United
1990-1997 Middlesbrough
1996-1998 Barnsley
Total number of appearances – 489
Total number of goals scored during professional career – 116

Well done to John on making such a success of his football career, and we are proud to call you one of our own!

Credit for this article to Bernard Higgins, who is the son of the PE teacher mentioned by John, Charlie Higgins, who still supports an award in his father’s name at our Annual Prizegiving.

Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson, born 23 November 1950, in Milngavie Glasgow, is a former professional Association football and former St Ninian’s High School pupil. Legendary Celtic signed him for the club in 1967 and immediately farmed him out to "Scottish Junior Football Association", Maryhill, to gain experience before returning to break into the first team in the early 1970's. Although he found it difficult to maintain his position in the first team, a high point in his Celtic career was scoring two goals in the 3–1 victory over Airdrie in the 1975 Scottish Cup final.

Wilson gained one international cap for Scotland in 1975, coming on as a substitute in a 1–1 draw against Spain. He remained at Celtic until 1978, moving to Motherwell for one season before finishing his senior career at the end of the 1980 season with Partick Thistle. After his spell at Thistle he moved back to junior football with Blantyre Celtic, winning a junior international cap.

Des McKeown

Des McKeown

Des McKeown is a Sales Director for a stationery company and currently plays for Queen of the South. He began his footballing career in 1988 when he signed for Celtic, however, he decided instead to finish his Business Degree. He later played for Partick Thistle before transferring to Queen of the South.

Charles Patrick Mulgrew

Charles Patrick "Charlie" Mulgrew, born March 6, 1986 in Glasgow, is a Scottish footballer, who signed for Aberdeen in July 2008. He is primarily a defender, playing mainly at left back, but can also operate in left midfield. Mulgrew is a cousin of Canadian lacrosse player Sean Greenhalgh. Having progressed through Celtic's youth system, Mulgrew turned professional in July 2002 and has had a wide a varied career with a number of clubs throughout the UK, before his current side at Aberdeen.

Stephen Crainey

Stephen Daniel Crainey

Stephen Daniel Crainey is an ex-pupil who is now a professional footballer who currently plays for English club Blackpool. He previously played for Leeds United, Southampton and Celtic.  Stephen Crainey has been capped at full and under-21 level by Scotland

Paul Buchanan

Paul Buchanan

Paul Buchanan is a former pupil of St Ninian’s High School, and a member of the successful Scottish band, The Blue Nile.  The band was formed in 1981 when Paul Buchanan and his friend, Robert Bell, met Paul Moore after graduating from the University of Glasgow in the late 1970s, and they began writing and recording together. Their albums include A Walk Across the Rooftops, Hats, Peace at Last and High.

Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi is a Scottish Academy Award and BAFTA Award-winning film director and actor, and a former pupil of St Ninian’s High School. He has appeared in over forty films and television programmes since his breakthrough role as Danny Oldsen in Local Hero (1983), including the lead role in Ken Russell's The Lair of the White Worm (1988) and Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons (also 1988). He is also known as an audio book Iain Banks. In 1995 he won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film and a BAFTA for Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life

In 2007 Capaldi appeared as Mark Jenkins (Sid Jenkins' dad) in the E4 teen comedy/drama Skins narrator having read many books including several of the works of where he returned for a second series in 2008.

His latest achievement sees him in his most notable role to date as the new Dr Who.

Bishop Ian Murray

Bishop Ian Murray

Bishop Ian Murray was born in Lennoxtown on 15 December 1932. He began his education at St. Machan's Primary School and in 1944 went to St. Ninian's High School in Kirkintilloch. In 1946 he joined the National Junior Seminary of St. Mary's College, Blairs. He was ordained in the Chapel at Valladolid College on 17 March 1956 by Bishop Joseph McGee. After various postings, he was Rector of the Valladolid College between 1987 and 1994, and negotiated the transfer of the College to its present site in Salamanca.

He later served in Galashiels and Falkirk and was appointed Vicar General of the diocese.  In 1999 Bishop Ian was nominated Bishop of Argyll & the Isles and ordained by Archbishop O'Brien on 7 December, the feast of St. Ambrose, Patron of the College in Valladolid. He retired in December 2008.

Bishop Joseph Devine

Bishop Joseph Devine, Ph.D, was born on 7th August 1937.  He attended St Ninian’s Primary School, and went on to St Mary’s College and St Peter’s College in Cardross. He was Ordained on 29th June 1960, and gained his Ph.D in 1964 at the Gregoria University in Rome.

He was Ordained as Bishop by Archbishop Thomas Winning in St Francis Church, Glasgow on 31st May 1977, and translated to Motherwell on 13th May 1983.


Katie Sutherland (Pearl and the Puppets)

Katie Sutherland, known as Pearl from Pearl and the Puppets, is an ex pupil of St Ninian’s High School.    

As well as becoming successful as a band in their own right, Katie has supported bands as famous as Sugababes and McFly. She has also worked on three songs with Elton John and supported him on a recent tour. St Ninian’s is proud to have Katie as an ambassador of St Ninian’s.



Fraser Campbell

Fraser is a former European debating champion and Times Law Award winner.  He was born in Kirkintilloch and came to school at St Ninian's, before attending Oxford.  He later spent a year studying human rights law at Leidon University in the Netherlands.  He is now a successful litigator who achieved a first from Pembroke College, was president of the Oxford Union and is a fellow of All Souls.






Elaine Sullivan Ph.D.

Elaine Sullivan is former pupil, Elaine McGlynn, who has had an extremely successful career in business. 

Elaine left St Ninian's in 1979 and went to Glasgow University, then on to Edinburgh University where she gained her PHD.  She worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in Basel, and has since gone on to become the Vice President of Lilly Global, a world wide pharmaceutical company commited to creating high quality medicines.