Jock Leyden

Staff and pupils at Grangemouth High have put together an exhibition celebrating the life and work of the late Jock Leyden.

Rector Gerry Docherty decided to display some of the celebrated cartoonist's work after learning of his sad death.

Leyden, who was born and raised in Grangemouth, left Scotland at the age of just 18 to live in South Africa. After initially finding work as a lithographic artist in the printing trade, Leyden was later taken on by a daily newspaper in Durban. He soon became renowned for his hard-hitting political sketches, particularly those tackling the thorny issue of apartheid.

By 1980, the year Leyden was eventually named the world's top cartoonist, his work was hanging in Buckingham Palace and the White House.

Leyden was top of his art class at Grangemouth High and always maintained that the main inspiration for his career was his teacher .James Davie. However, no-one at the school knew what had become of the former pupil until he
suddenly made contact with Mr Docherty five years ago.

Leyden sent the school a spoof, eight-page, edition of the "Daily News", where he had plied his trade for more than 60 years.

Staff had marked his retirement by paying their own tributes to the man who became one. of South Africa's most. influential and feared commentators.

Leyden mercilessly lampooned Hitler and Mussolini during the Second World War, provided an acerbic commentary on South Africa's exclusion from the international sporting arena and recorded, in inimitable fashion, the collapse of apartheid.

Leyden' s letter to Grangemouth High sparked off a long-distance friendship with Mr Docherty that eventually led to a major exhibition of Leyden' s work being staged in Falkirk. All the material - including newspaper cuttings, original drawings and a `'map" of how Leyden remembered Grangemouth have been painstakingly collected by Leyden himself, who was greatly honoured at the interest in him in his home town.

Jock Leyden died at home in his sleep in February 2000, but a breakdown in communications meant Mr Docherty did not hear the sad news until July. As soon as he was contacted by Leyden' s son Murray, the rector immediately set about planning a real tribute.

Mr Docherty has selected some of Leyden' s best-known political sketches for display in the pupils' corridor at the school. The staff room is also adorned with cartoons.