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Castlebrae community craft boardroom table for University of Edinburgh institute


A group of high school pupils from Castlebrae Community Campus, led by Castlebrae Project Worker Stu MacDonald, have created a stunning new boardroom table for a new University of Edinburgh medical research institute building on Edinburgh BioQuarter.

The Institute for Regeneration and Repair (IRR) welcomed staff and students from neighbouring Castlebrae Community Campus into their new state of the art building today, for the unveiling of the hand-crafted board room table designed and made by the young people of Castlebrae.

Castlebrae Community Campus and IRR have a longstanding partnership. Spanning 8 years, the enduring partnership offers the young people of Castlebrae work placements, science mentoring and more.

The project was commissioned by Dr Gordon McLean, IRR Chief Operating Officer, to celebrate the ongoing partnership completion of construction of the new IRR South building in 2023.

The idea was inspired after Dr McLean was gifted a smaller version of the table by Castlebrae Future Improvements Coordinator James Donald as a thank you for his support of Castlebrae, in particular of their Christmas appeal.

Dr Gordon McLean said:
“ I am delighted to see the culmination of this project and the beautiful and unique outcome.

“This is more than a table it is a work of art and a fitting reminder of our longstanding and successful partnership between IRR and Castlebrae. My sincere thanks to James, Stuart and all of the students who have worked so hard on this project.”

Dozens of high school students across all year groups contributed to the construction.

Mr James Donald said:
“ The build of this table has afforded us the opportunity to offer our pupils a different way of learning, more experiential perhaps. Allowing them to develop skills which they could use post-school. To see the magnificent fruits of their labour is upliftinhg and emotional. I’m extremely proud of [them] all.”.

The build was supported by local businessman, Dennis Walton, who provided technical expertise and resources to the project. Fabricated from Scottish yew and set in hand-poured resin, the table is a one-of-a-kind work of art.

Many hours were spent hand sanding the table to an extremely high-quality finish. Described as ‘STEM by stealth’, the boardroom table build has helped the young people of Castlebrae develop new skills outside of the conventional classroom setting, an approach that the Castlebrae leadership team use to help support and build confidence in their students.

Reflecting on the project, which took place over the last year, Mr Donald said:
“ Those quiet conversations which took place over the year were restorative and honest, reflective and positive. The kids started to value themselves and their own agency”.

IRR welcomed a group of students and staff from Castlebrae for the grand unveiling of the finished piece on 23rd June 2023. There was a palpable sense of pride from the young people as they pointed out which parts of the table they had made to Tommy Sheppard, MP, and Cllr Joan Griffith.

The grand unveiling was hosted by Dr Gordon McLean and IRR Director Professor Stuart Forbes.

The boardroom table will sit for years to come at the heart of IRR, and stand as a testimony to the lasting relationship between the Institute and our local community.

Watch the grand unveiling!

Hear more about the background of this inclusive project from Castlebrae Community Campus Project Worker Stu MacDonald.