Charles Wilson MBE, President 2017-19

Charles “Charlie” Wilson MBE (M 1965)
I started my education at Gillsland Park Preparatory School in Edinburgh before moving to Melville College in 1954. During my time at Melville, I played rugby (eventually joining the ranks of the 3rd XV) and Hockey, gained a Bronze Medallion in Swimming and was a member of the CCF attaining the rank of sergeant. I also gained my Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award and was a Junior and Senior Prefect, the latter with responsibility for the whole of the Junior School.
In August 1965, I joined The Standard Life Assurance Company (SLAC) working initially in the Assurance Valuation Department which was based in 5 Thistle Street. Four months later, I was transferred to the Investment Department in 3 George Street where, in common with all ‘new-starts’, I had to cut-out and file newspaper articles on companies in which SLAC held shares. From there, I progressed to manually recording share deals on “Blue Cards” – this was the early days of computerisation, when the hand-written deals were later transcribed onto punched tape and fed into a mammoth computer – jointly owned by Scottish Widows – with the resultant print-outs being compared with the hand-written original before being bound into volumes for posterity. The next step-up the ladder was to produce material for the monthly Investment Committee meetings; valuations of the share holdings in the sectors under review, the dealing history in these shares for the last twelve months, buy/sell recommendations etc. In those days, the initiation period was a lengthy one but eventually I became a Money Market Dealer and then a dealer in Gilt-edged Securities and Company Debentures & Loan Stocks. At some point, I don’t remember exactly when, there followed a career swerve; I moved from actively investing back to passively reporting – providing quarterly investment reports for companies who had entrusted SLAC to look after their pension funds, occasionally getting to accompany the Investment Managers to review meetings with some of the Corporate clients. I did this for a number of years before switching to writing (in plain English) specs for computer programmes that were required to develop/enhance the [SLAC] business model and to test the resultant output. When I retired as Development Consultant in December 2008, I was – at that point in time – the longest serving member of staff in the Standard Life Group having served a total of 43 years and 4 months. I had also witnessed Investment growing from a department (of around 20-odd employees) within SLAC to a subsidiary company of the Standard Life Group – Standard Life Investment Limited in 1998 – with over 1,000 employees.
On leaving school, I joined both the FP Parent and Rugby Clubs. In those days, FP rugby was a very social affair with as much time, if not more, spent in the bar as on the training field and pitch. In spite of that handicap, I managed to play in the 2nd XV on a regular basis until I retired from playing in the mid-seventies. Although not a regular at Inverleith while working, I always retained a close interest in the Club and on retiring I made a point of returning to the fold. I was fortunate enough to be elected a Council Member in 2011 and appointed Vice-President in 2016.

In June 1984, I married Irene Hastie – sister of Ian Hastie (M 1970) – and we have stayed in Currie all of our married life. We both enjoy following our various pursuits which include foreign travel (over the years this has fostered a love affair with the Greek Islands and, eventually, allowed us to fulfil a life-long ambition to visit New Zealand for seven weeks last year), theatre, reading, photography, hill-walking (not quite so much nowadays), following the Scotland Rugby team (for our sins) and working with the disabled. My brother Kenneth (M 1970), following a career in banking with the Clydesdale Bank, which took him all over Scotland, is retired and living with his wife Lorna in Brae of Kinkell near Dingwall.
I had the honour of being awarded the MBE for “Services to the Elderly Disabled in Edinburgh” in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours List of 2002 being presented with my medal by Her Majesty at an investiture in Buckingham Palace in November of that year. I also had the honour of being the winner in the category of “Individual Volunteer” in the inaugural Standard Life Chairman’s Awards in 2007, again for my work with the disabled through the Wednesday Club – an involvement that started back in 1964 when I was doing the Community Service section for my Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award.
My wife, Irene, and I are still actively involved with the Wednesday Club which was inaugurated in 1956. The Club provides regular events in the autumn, winter and spring of each year for a group of disabled men from across the city. There are also summer trips – four all-day outings, including lunch – organised for the men and staffed by volunteers from the congregation of Morningside Parish Church, as well as ourselves. Up until July 2004, the Club provided a week’s holiday for the men but due to changing legislation and the lack of premises available for hire that were fully equipped for the disabled, the holiday week was discontinued and replaced by the summer trips.
For the past seven years, I have been the Property Convener of Morningside Parish Church which has involved looking after and maintaining the fabric of the buildings which form the Morningside Parish estate; the Church and Church Hall, the Cluny Centre and two Manses. During that period, I have also overseen the construction of two suites of halls; one in 2010 and the other this year. I demitted office in October of this year in order to give my time fully to the FP Club Presidency, as I felt that I would be unable occupy both roles and do either them justice.

You can view our previous presidents here.