Mark Collins (Class of 1983)

Tell us what you do for a living?
I am the Chief Executive Officer for Poppyscotland, a military charity based in Edinburgh (a subsidy charity within the Royal British Legion Group) that supports the Armed Forces community in Scotland.
Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing after you left school?
Absolutely not; I left the RLS to pursue a career in the hotel and leisure industry after attending technical catering college.  I followed that path for 5 years, then joined the Royal Air Force as a catering officer, serving for 23 years, before leaving and entering the military charity sector.
What’s been your inspiration – what’s pulled you forwards and into your current role?
The desire to undertake interesting and challenging roles. The involvement with the military charity sector allows me to work with colleagues and families who serve, or have served and to support them appropriately.  I also enjoy the camaraderie that exists amongst the military veteran community and our common goals – to support.
What would you say is your biggest achievement to date, the thing you’re most proud of? Professionally or personally!
Professionally, serving as the senior catering officer in the Royal Air Force, and more recently taking on this role as CEO of Poppyscotland, not bad for an RLS pupil who was told that following a career into catering and not taking my A-levels was a huge mistake!
Was there a particular teacher, or a moment at school that particularly inspired you?

Miss Griffiths, (1981-83) the Food and Nutrition teacher who was prepared to take me on to study O level F&N.  But only after I had convinced the headmaster why I shouldn’t follow the traditional route of TD, wood or metal work. Other inspirations, Mr Martin, PE, who introduced me to hockey, a sport that has allowed me to meet so many people and to visit so many different places in the UK and overseas.

How important do you think your school days were in shaping who you are today?
Significant I would say, the work ethic taught you attention to detail and the desire to achieve, after all you have passed the 11+ to get here, so why waste the opportunity.  It also provided a caring and nurturing environment and to respect one another. 
What’s your work:life balance like? How important is that to you?

It is important to consider family, work and self, do we always get it right, no.  But even in the military I made time for my family, your sons and daughters grow up fast, enjoy them, you only have them on loan!

What advice would you give to today’s students who may be struggling to choose which path to take beyond school?
Follow a pathway of learning and subjects that you enjoy.  Study should be interesting and if you like the subject its so much easier and you are more likely to succeed.  Qualifications get you to your goals, life skills and networks sustain you.  You will encounter many opportunities along life’s journey, embrace them and sometimes you need to follow your instinct, sometimes life considerations/challenges/circumstances close off an avenue, but more will come along.
Finally, do you have a favourite quote, expression or mantra which inspires you to keep going?
Treat people the way you wish to be treated yourself.

Application to Sixth Form 2023

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The Sixth Form Open Evening will be held on 17th November 2022.

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