GUy Winter (88-94) UK Corporate/ECM Partner at Fasken
As a Navy family, we were living in Edinburgh but facing the prospect of frequent moves, as my stepfather got posted around the country. Merchiston offered the perfect combination of a leading Edinburgh school with fantastic boarding facilities.
After leaving school, I went to study law at Hertford College, Oxford. This did not come as a complete shock to the system, as there were a number of Merchistonians already ensconced at Hertford and the neighbouring colleges- including my best friend from school at St Edmund Hall, just down the road.
After university, I spent a year in Latin America, which certainly taxed my schoolboy Spanish to the maximum. The day before I left for Panama City, I ran into a friend from school in Edinburgh. He was just back from Venezuela, so he gave me the number of a mate of his there and encouraged me to get in touch with him if I was ever in that neck of the woods. I ended up spending six months in Caracas, living and working with various friends of Stuart's- so fair to say that Merchiston opens doors further afield than Colinton!
I'm an Energy & Natural Resources partner in the London office of an international law firm, Fasken. Most of my work now is in renewable energy generation and storage, battery minerals and oil & gas, in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa (especially Nigeria). I have also written three novels: Watchdog (written as Robert Anderson), Tam: The Three Changelings and, most recently, Billionaire Suicide Club. BSC is based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson- leading my old MCS History teacher, Mr O'Neill, to ask if it was influenced by Stevenson's own Colinton connection (his grandad was the Minister of the Parish Church). Maybe subliminally…
There is no getting away from Merchistonians in the City- both as clients and of course, as respected competitors! What is always noticeable at Merchistonian gatherings is the strong bond that shared experience represents, even with people you didn't know so well in school days. Last year we had a tremendous reunion in Edinburgh to commemorate the 25th anniversary of us leaving school, which really rolled the years back. I live in West London now, but my time at Merchiston has had a huge impact on my career, and particularly my writing. Those early experiences obviously shape your imagination, and life at Merchiston constantly opened new perspectives and left vivid memories. Whenever I wanted to evoke the wild flight of Robert Burns' witches in writing Tam, I just recalled the wind whistling down from Allermuir and Caerketton onto the school below.
Having experienced London schools as a parent, my perspective now is that Merchiston offers an incredible balance of academic achievement and extra-curricular variety in a calm, relaxed environment. The outstanding teaching gave us a foundation to get us far as we chose academically but, just as importantly, everyone had the opportunity to find their passions and niches in school life. It's no coincidence that my peers have found success in such a bewilderingly wide range of fields.
My perception is that the school has retained its traditional strengths whilst moving to another level in academic achievement and pastoral care. I think it will serve the next generation of Merchistonians even better than it has served us.