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Spotlight On

John Barton, Round Square 1962 - Chairman of EasyJet

Of Speed Boats and Rowing Boats

John Barton, Chairman EasyJet

I was born in India during the Second World War, the first son of two army officers. Two years later they left the army, my father to farm outside Brechin and my mother to be a doctor at the local hospital, Stracathro. I went to Brechin High School and at 12 was sent to Gordonstoun where my grandfather had advised Kurt Hahn on the school diet and my uncle was one of his first pupils.

Fifty years ago Gordonstoun was very different from today. There were no girls, no Sports Centre, no grand Chapel. It was pretty rudimentary; however the school still revolved around the axis of Gordonstoun House and the Round Square. More importantly, the principles of Kurt Hahn which have served me, as well as the school, so well over the last 50 years were exactly as they are today.

I have for the first time tried to analyse what has influenced and guided my life and what lessons I have learned.

My parents did two huge things for me - one of them was sending me to Gordonstoun which widened my horizons and I learnt many things from my time at the school.

Gordonstoun took me out of my comfort zone and made me try new things and face new challenges. These formative experiences included leaving my parents for the first time at the age of 12, becoming a member of the Mountain Rescue Service, going on expeditions in the Highlands of Scotland and sailing in challenging conditions. All these experiences nurtured a desire (after leaving school) to pursue the unknown - something which has always excited me and made me do things - sometimes successfully but sometimes not. 

Gordonstoun taught me that there is a balance in life.  Particularly between body and mind.  That balance in life has been very important to me.  The balance between work, sport, and later, my family.  I pursue each with commitment and passion and they have rewarded me with friendships and happiness, each in a different way and all complementary.  When I failed in one I took great comfort from the others.

From my time at Gordonstoun I would say that my sincerest piece of advice is learn to listen to the people around you, learn to work with them, learn to play with them, learn to share with them.  Be part of a team - in whatever role - in whatever field and help it be successful.  Helping others to succeed will bring you more pleasure, opportunity and success than you can imagine. Today as Chairman of EasyJet, I still feel I am part of a team in each of the company’s I work in and I know without that team I am nothing.

Whether you are a speed boat or rowing boat, remember you are travelling on a sea of people.  It is through working with and helping people that you will find success and happiness.


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