FINLAY Taylor comes from a family well-known to Queenstonians. His mother, Rose, was headmistress of Balmoral Primary School. His brother, Robert, was a head of department at Queenstown Girls’ High School until his appointment to Selborne College in East London.
Finlay matriculated from Queen’s College in 1979 and furthered his studies at Stellenbosch University. He obtained his BA degree with English and history as majors and the postgraduate Higher Diploma in Education, also from Stellenbosch, in 1984.
He taught at Duneside High School, Walvis Bay, Namibia from 1987 to 1994 and then took up a post at Riebeeck College, Uitenhage where, in 1998, he became deputy principal. With the advent of the computer age, Finlay decided to study further and, in 2000, received the Further Diploma in Education (cum laude) from the University of Port Elizabeth, his field of study being computers in education.
In 2001, he decided to widen his teaching experience and accepted a post at Garth Hill Comprehensive School in Bracknell, Berkshire in the UK. Following the death of his brother, Rob, in 2002, family commitments drew Finlay to return to South Africa.
He accepted a post as head of department at Queen’s College in 2003 and was appointed deputy headmaster the following year. In 2011, he succeeded Richard Edkins as principal of GHS.
Finlay immersed himself in life at the school, taking an active interest in the academic, sporting and cultural achievements of the pupils in his care.
In 2012, computer applications technology was introduced as a subject in Grade 10. He was an enthusiastic spectator at sport fixtures and enjoyed complimenting the pupils on their good play at assembly. If things had not gone too well, he was always ready with words of encouragement and constructive criticism.
I came to know Finlay as a highly professional educator and a man of great integrity. He was a “big picture” man and an enthusiastic supporter of the cooperation between schools in these difficult educational times.
He committed himself, and the school, wholeheartedly to the ideals and goals of the Queenstown Education Foundation with its vision of a centre of exemplary holistic education in the Eastern Cape.
Hopefully, one day the achievements of this foundation will stand as a tribute to him and those who shared his vision.
Finlay was a quiet, courteous man; remarkably intelligent with a formidable general knowledge (his nickname at Queen’s was Mr Google) and a quick, incisive wit. A knowledgeable coach, he enjoyed hockey and cricket. A great animal lover, he also enjoyed exercising his very energetic deerhound cross on the school fields. Finlay was an enthusiastic fisherman, savouring the solitude and tranquility.
He leaves his wife, Ingrid, his daughters – Jessica and Alexandra – and his mother, Rose.
Acting principal Annelise Pieterse added, “Finlay was a highly intelligent and vibrant man who worked with passion, integrity and energy. He was a loving husband and a devoted father, a good friend to many and a great colleague, who we will miss greatly. Our sorrow is lessened only slightly by the comforting thought that we had the privilege of knowing him.”
A memorial service will be held in the school’s St George’s Hall today at 3pm.