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Roger Chawla 1930 – 2019

Class of 1949

My brother, Roger, came to HSD in 1939. Our mother had brought my sister, Anne, Roger and me back to her home town whilst our father had returned to the army, and to eventual capture when the Japanese swarmed into Singapore.

To help prepare Roger for L4, a very young Aileen (aka Aggie) Gray came as a tutor to our house on Perth Road, later becoming a long-term family friend.

Roger went on to lift the top certificates for L4 and L5, finishing with the Polack Prize, which was awarded to the Dux of the Junior School. As he moved into long trousers it was more of the same success, with his ending up as Dux of the Senior School and Head Boy to boot.

Yet it was not all books. Roger was Junior Sports Champion, but as he grew older, rugby became his passion, more so because of the wise guidance of Douglas Wood, a teacher of Science but SRU coach manqué. As a very popular Captain, Roger led the first XV to victory over all challengers in 1947/48.

This popularity was tinged with reverence and Roger was always seen as slightly apart from his peers. Indeed, his standing in the school was such that when his collar bone was broken, rather needlessly in the final House match, Ian Bain, the Rector, came to our house – an unprecedented gesture – to offer his consolation. He found Roger in tears of despair that he had played his last ever game of rugby. “The great man weeps,” said the Headmaster, without irony and clearly moved.

Come 1949, Roger, now with a Harkness scholarship, followed in our father’s footsteps to the University of St Andrews, from which he emerged with an MA in History, an LLB with merit in Law as well as a Blue for tennis.

National Service brought more success when he was awarded the Sword of Honour as the top cadet at the Officer Training Unit at Mons.

The real world of work then intervened. Roger joined Unilever and was posted to Casablanca where he met his French wife. They went on to have two daughters and in due course three grandchildren, much to his doting delight.

Roger’s final years were tormented by Parkinson’s Disease, but he was sustained through it all especially by his memories of those formative years at Dundee High, which he had entered as an unknown schoolboy and left as a legend.

Dr. Hector Chawla
Brother to Roger and Former Pupil 1942 – 1955

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