In celebration of community, philanthropy and innovation...and the gift of Discovery

“Magnificent!" That was the verdict of leading scientist Lord Winston as he formally opened the Discovery Centre at The Royal Latin School last week. His visit proved to be a magnificent occasion for this 592 year old school, and one which will be remembered by all involved for a very long time.

To have all of the people who made this building possible in the same place at the same time, under impossibly blue October skies, was a special moment. It wasn't just me - I could see it shining in the smiling eyes of everyone there. Major sponsors, donors, dignitaries and business leaders, teachers, students, volunteers. Catering and caretaking teams, media representatives and of course, our talented team of architects. The successful completion of this ambitious project, seemingly against all odds, is a milestone worth celebrating.

When fundraising for a new building, it might be tempting to value every donation in relation to how many bricks, windows and roof beams it will buy. Instead, we kept our focus on the very real difference every donor and every contribution would make to the learning environment, and thus to the opportunities and outcomes for young people.

Seeing the eminent Professor Winston peering down microscopes last week, shoulder to shoulder with our budding young scientists, may have seemed like the realisation of our ambition for this incredible new building. In actual fact, it is just the beginning of what we believe the Discovery Centre will achieve.

One student, on entering the building for the first time, turned to ask me incredulously: "Is this really for us?" My reply: yes! It is for you, for all who will follow you, and even for all those who have gone before you. And yes, there are hundreds of kind and incredibly generous benefactors out there, some of whom have never met you and will never meet you, who believe that your future is worth investing in. Take that belief, amplify and apply it, and understand that one day, you too will be inspired to give something back to your community.

We have created so much more than a new building, magnificent as it is. This building isn't just teaching first class science - it is a symbol of community, philanthropy and innovation, and our young people have learned so much from it already.

First published on LinkedIn, October 09, 2015