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There was delight in Lochaline with news that local primary school head teacher and lead retained firefighter, Keith Wynn Adams, had been honoured with the award of an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.
Mr Adams, who receives the MBE for services to education and the community in Lochaline, is the only Lochaber recipient of an award for 2019.
He has been the school’s head for the past 16 years out of a teaching career spanning three decades.
His wife, Sue, is the school’s only other teacher and it was at the start of 2019 that Lochaline Primary was the first school in Scotland to achieve an evaluation of excellent in a new inspection model.
According to the statement issued by the Cabinet Office along with the announcement of his MBE, Mr Adams was said to have led a thriving school community that is central to the sustainability and growth of the village.
And it continued: ‘He was instrumental in the conception and design of the recently built school community building, which incorporates the local fire station – a first in mainland Scotland – and providing a unique learning environment for children to learn key life skills.
‘His vision for the school and children as the heart of the community is demonstrated through the innovative curriculum and excellent standards of teaching.
‘He has developed an innovative curriculum rationale, based firmly on the unique rural context and setting of the school.
‘All children have an outstanding knowledge of their local heritage, cultural and natural environment.
‘Through his nurturing of local partnerships with renewable energy and forestry industries, children play a lead role in caring for and protecting their environment, working alongside industry professionals.
‘A high proportion of children achieve national levels of attainment much earlier than would normally be expected.’
It is through his expertise as a firefighter, that all children in the school also learn first aid and life-saving skills.
Mr Adams’ leadership skills were recognised when he was selected to lead aspects of firefighting training at a national level.
Mr Adams, 59, told the Lochaber Times: ‘I’m absolutely over the moon, not just for me but for the whole community as it is something extra to help put Lochaline on the map.’
He received the official award notification letter in November and was then sworn to secrecy until the official public announcement on the weekend before New Year.
‘Until the letter arrived I had no idea at all I might be in the running for something like this – it came right out of the blue,’ he told us.
‘I’m so pleased like I said, not just for myself, but for my family and the whole of Lochaline.’
Mr and Mrs Adams – the couple have a grown up son and daughter – will travel to St James’ Palace in London later this year for him to be presented with the MBE.
The couple moved from their native North Wales after falling in love with the Lochaline and Morvern areas during holidays.
‘Our holidays to the area were getting longer an longer, eventually lasting four weeks, so we decided to make a permanent move.
‘It was for various reasons, mainly because of the freedom it offered our children growing up. There were also quite a lot of drugs creeping into North Wales from Liverpool which was worrying and Lochaline offered the chance for us as a family to be somewhere that offered much more freedom and in spectacular countryside.’
Asked what the local reaction had been to news of his award in the few days following the announcement, Mr Adams laughed: ‘I’ve been in hiding a bit since!
‘I only saw one local lady I know who gave me a kiss and congratulations, but then when I was at fire training that night, everyone was very pleased.’