My school days: Greg McHugh

Teachers can help shape a person far beyond their time at school, Edinburgh-born actor Greg McHugh will always remember the positive impact school had on him.

Before Greg McHugh was writing, acting and appearing on our screens as funnyman Gary, Tank Commander he attended St Thomas of Aquin’s High School in Edinburgh. It was his time in school that saw Greg’s skills and talents flourish.

What was your favourite subject?

When I first went to high school I’d say PE. I loved PE and St Tams had a fantastic  department. As the years went on I started to love English; the language, words and discovering that ‘English’ wasn’t just studying the classics but also an opportunity to create and write short stories.

I’ll always remember a supply teacher called Mr Scott. He once asked me to read out a short story I had written to the class. He told me beforehand that my grammar was woeful but the story itself was entertaining and original.

Whether it was or wasn’t I don’t know, but I remember that moment as the first time I’d been given confidence in an area that I never had before.

What were your interests outside of class?

I feel incredibly lucky that whilst I was becoming really interested in English, I’d been lucky enough to play in the St Tams football team and the PE teacher Ian Smith had moulded us in to a pretty decent outfit.

He was a brilliant coach and individual.

Did you have a favourite teacher?

There are several teachers who had a significant influence on me. Mr Smith was a superb role model, a man dedicated to both teaching during the week and extracurricular activity.

He built a brilliant team spirit and encouraged me, and so many others, to try and achieve as much as I could.

Mr Scott, a ‘cover’ teacher, had a huge impact on me. Giving confidence to a student stays with you, trust me. I’d also like to give a huge mention to the English department as a whole.

Ms Dugan, Spanish Teacher extraordinaire. Patient, funny, and showing a consistent dedication to her profession. Lucy Dalgliesh – Drama Guru. She, without my knowledge, put me forward for a short film aged 17 that I then managed to get.

That put me on the path to professional work. She called me ‘Mavis’ due to my whingey tone from Mavis of Coronation Street.

How did your time at school impact your career?

When Ian Smith found out I was doing drama in my final year at St Tams, he was baffled. He thought I’d pursue PE at a teaching level. Little did he realise that all my former experiences had built my confidence to finally try the thing I had wanted to do for years.

The short story in English, the team sport in PE, the confidence of learning a language in Spanish – it’s all connected.

I am living my dream due to the brilliant teachers who kept adding to my education, who kept pushing and inspiring me.

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