Renowned poet, artist and former pupil Imtiaz Dharker returned to the school on Friday to be honoured for her outstanding literary achievements.
Imtiaz was presented with a George and Thomas Hutcheson Award at a special ceremony and she spoke fondly of her time as a Hutchie pupil.
She recalled it was her teacher who encouraged her to write poetry and told of her joy at seeing her work published in the school magazine.
She said: “One day my English teacher, Miss Murray, saw something I wrote and put it in the school magazine, along with a drawing I had done. It may seem like a small thing, but the shift from a secret scribble to seeing my work in print felt like a seismic change. And then I never stopped.
“Poetry gave me new kind of freedom. It was a great teacher who changed my life and showed me what I could be, that I needn’t accept limits.”
After leaving school in 1968 Imtiaz, who has published six books of poetry, studied English Literature and Philosophy at Glasgow University. In 2014 she received the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry. She is also a recipient of the Cholmondley Award and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
She is also an accomplished artist and she has had ten solo exhibitions of drawings in India, London, New York and Hong Kong.
Speaking at the ceremony yesterday which was attended by staff, pupils and some of her former classmates, Imtiaz said: “I’m delighted to receive the George and Thomas Hutcheson Award: it is a great honour. But even more than that, I am pleased to have had the chance to come back and see what Hutchie is now.
“Hutchie taught me many things, but the most important was to think for myself, to know that even if I was young, especially if I was young, my voice mattered.”
As well as being a poet and artist Imtiaz is an accomplished film maker. She scripts and directs films, many of them for non-government organisations in India, working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children.
Her documentaries, for groups such as Cry and Unicef, have landed several awards, including the Silver Lotus Award for the Best Short Film in 1980 and the Balraj Sahni Award for Art in 1992.