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Karen Coyne Laidlaw Housemother

I arrived at Merchiston in August 2018 from Kenya where I worked in an independent secondary school as counsellor, careers advisor, child protection officer and PSHE coordinator.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here as a Housemother at Merchiston getting to know the boys and helping them navigate Sixth Form, encouraging and balancing a greater sense of independence with continued support, developing life skills for the next stage of their lives. My role is very varied, but I believe the foundation stone is to ‘be there for the boys’, to create a warm ‘home from home’ atmosphere where the boys feel valued, helping in any way I can, whether on a practical level, to guide / support them, to talk over concerns or just be there for a chat. Essentially my role is promoting and contributing to the boys’ wellbeing in a broad sense which is a privilege as well as a huge amount of fun.

Merchistion is a very special place from our truly amazing grounds, excellent facilities, extensive co-curricular and excellent academics to a very dedicated team of staff and wonderful boys. Being quite small, there is a lovely sense of community here and as staff we have the opportunity to really get to know the boys as individuals.


I’m very much an active, outdoor person who loves adventure, nature, marine life and  the African bush. My greatest joy is being in the wild, camping, enjoying nature and wildlife. I enjoy walking, hiking, biking, keeping fit at the gym, swimming, yoga and SCUBA diving.

When I’m not outdoors I enjoy cooking and jewelry making and I have a keen interest in holistic therapies, practicing both reiki and reflexology. However there is nothing better than relaxing at home with my family, three dogs, cat and four ducks! 

Funniest Moments

Cooking with the boys in Laidlaw has many a funny moment, but I think the best one was making pizza dough, which was rather sticky and watching the boys trying to peel it off their hands and convert it in to in to a pizza base was hilarious. 

There have been a host of laughs in VIA Club too, some of the most memorable was the Hallow’een party and watching the boys trying to eat doughnuts dangling from strings with their hands behind their backs and also duck for apples. They were both soaked and covered in doughnut icing!

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