Former Belfast Royal Academy pupil, the Reverend John McConnell Auld, who passed away in 2020 at the age of 90, has left a substantial bequest to the Academy to support pupils and forthcoming developments at his alma mater. Reverend Auld was educated at the school in his senior years, leaving in 1948, before continuing his studies in Princeton, New Jersey, and the Union Theological College, Belfast. During his time at school he was captain of the Athletics team and also played on the 1st XV Rugby team. He went on to become Head of Divinity at Royal Belfast Academical Institution and also served as an Ulster Unionist councillor in the 70s and 80s, as well as Mayor of North Down Borough Council. He is fondly remembered for having built the smallest church in Ireland, St Gobban’s in Portbradden on the North Antrim Coast, measuring just 11ft 4in by 6ft 9in.
Mrs Hilary Woods, Principal of the Academy, commented, “The school was very honoured to receive this significant legacy donation from the Reverend Auld. Over the years, generous individuals have made the decision to include the Academy in their wills. The impact of such bequests is huge and allows us to enrich the lives of our pupils and enhance our facilities through building projects, sport coaching, new educational programmes and bursaries. We would not be the school we are today without this tradition of generosity. Legacies contribute to our future and these donations enable us to expand the opportunities and excellence we have to offer future Academy pupils.”