Oldest living student of Olympic hero Eric Liddell visits Edinburgh

Oldest living student of Olympic hero Eric Liddell visits Edinburgh


A 90-year-old man, believed to be the last living student of Scottish athlete Eric Liddell, has visited the Edinburgh community hub set up in the Olympic hero’s name.

Eric Liddell is well known in Scotland as an Olympic gold medallist who studied and played rugby at Edinburgh University in the early 1920s. However Eric moved to China in 1925 until his passing in 1945, using his athletic experience to teach boys a number of sports, as well as science, at The Anglo Chinese College. Dr HK Cheng was a pupil of Eric’s in the 1930s.

Dr Cheng visited the Eric Liddell Centre, a care charity and community hub set up in the late athlete’s name, to see the work they carry out to bring Edinburgh’s communities together.

Following the visit Dr Cheng said:

“As students back home in China, we all had immense admiration for Eric Liddell as an Olympic champion and indeed a hero in both sports and Christianity. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to visit the Eric Liddell Centre and learn about all the work they are doing within the community in his name.

“Eric was a missionary for almost twenty years and never missed a chance to help us. He was an inspiration and taught us many life lessons while firing our passion for sport. He was energetic, kind and always strived to help people, something which is fantastic to see reflected in the work being done by the centre.”

Eric Liddell’s niece and patron of the centre, Sue Caton, also met with Dr Cheng to hear about his memories of her uncle. Eric’s other niece, Joan Nicol, also attended the visit with her husband Bill.

Sue said:

“Meeting Dr HK Cheng has been a pleasure. It’s fantastic to hear from those who were taught by my uncle, especially all those years ago. I believe HK Cheng might be the last living student of Eric’s so it’s just wonderful to hear him speak so favourably of his childhood and how Eric played such an influence on his own life and career.”

After school, Dr Cheng went onto become a structural engineer then head of the Eric Liddell Foundation in Hong Kong where he was involved in the creation of an Eric Liddell memorial in Weifang. He was invited over to Edinburgh by John MacMillan, CEO of The Eric Liddell Centre.

John said:

“We are thrilled to have Dr Cheng and Eric’s niece Sue meet at the centre. We can’t thank him enough for making the journey to the UK to see us. To hear first-hand of the influence Eric had on him, possibly one of the last living students, is great.

“The visit was also a great opportunity to show him the fantastic work being done at the centre to help bring Edinburgh’s communities together. He showed a real interest in how we work with a wide range of services to support and inspire, in ways similar to Eric, all types of community groups.

“I wish Dr Cheng all the best and hope to keep in touch whilst continuing to spread the positive message of the work both Eric did, and the work we are doing to help people in the community.”