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Education pioneer becomes first woman to feature on bank's new £50 note

The Royal Bank of Scotland note featuring Flora Stevenson was revealed at her namesake school in Edinburgh.

A woman features on the face of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s new £50 note for the first time.

An illustration of Scottish education pioneer Flora Stevenson is on the bank’s new polymer £50 note.

The design was unveiled at Edinburgh’s Flora Stevenson Primary School – named after her on its opening in 1899, when she turned 60.

Born into a merchant family in Glasgow who later settled in Edinburgh, her first educational project was an evening literacy class for “messenger girls” in her own home.

Pupils with note
Pupils at Flora Stevenson Primary School display the new note (RBS/PA)

She was involved in organising schools for poor children and was a strong supporter of education for girls.

This included pressing for university education to be opened up to women and she was at the first course of lectures for women by Edinburgh University Professor David Masson in 1868.

Ms Stevenson was one of the first women in the UK to be elected to a school board and thousands of children are said to have lined the streets for her funeral when she died in 1905.

A security feature on the note references the Victorian schoolyard by using an image of a “gird and cleek” – a classic 19th century playground toy – which is only visible under UV light.

Sonja Brown, headteacher at Flora Stevenson Primary School, said: “It is great that Flora Stevenson has been selected to appear on the new Royal Bank of Scotland £50 note.

“Our school helps support nearly 700 pupils in Edinburgh and as an institution which carries her name, we are quite aware of the impact she has had on Scottish society and education.

Note
One of the security designs features a ‘gird and cleek’ (RBS/PA)

“Her appearance on the note will make many others aware of her positive impact on Scottish society.”

Malcolm Buchanan, Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scotland regional board chair, said: “At Royal Bank of Scotland, we feel that a banknote’s value is more than just the figure printed across its front – it is our symbol which lives in people’s pockets and touches everyday lives.

“Flora Stevenson’s legacy touches so many aspects of Scottish life that we, as a nation, are justifiably proud; education, dedication and creating opportunities for all.”

The £50 note was designed in consultation with the public and includes illustrations of an osprey on its reverse.

The note will enter circulation on August 18.

The existing £50 paper note features a portrait of Lord Ilay, the first governor of Royal Bank of Scotland, with an illustration of Inverness Castle on the reverse.

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