Gourock Highland Games: Navy veteran named chief

GOUROCK Highland Games is in good hands as it returns after a two-year absence – with a Navy veteran and former custody officer named chief.

Local man George McLeary will headline the first Gourock Games since 2019 when it takes place on Sunday May 8.

George, 66, is from Larkfield and worked for more than 50 years in the shipyards, the Navy and then the police.

He spent 34 years in the Greenock Royal Naval Reserves, rising to the rank of chief petty officer before retiring in 2012.

He was a duty officer at the Greenock Police Station for three decades until he hung up his keys in February last year.

But George is arguably best known for serving Inverclyde with distinction for the past 27 years leading the annual Remembrance Sunday commemorations as Parade Commander.

He will now add the Highland Games chief to his long and impressive CV.

George said: “To be asked to be the Chef of Gourock Highland Games is a great privilege and honour.

“And what a year to be selected for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

“I want to thank the people who made this possible and I look forward to welcoming everyone there to enjoy a great day.

“Following the chosen people and celebrities who have played this role before me is such a great honor and accomplishment and it is to complete another great chapter in my life and one that I will cherish forever.”

George was also involved with the local sea cadets, serving on the management committee for 10 years, participated in the 75th anniversary commemorations of the Greenock Blitz, led the Battle of Arras centenary parade and he took charges the French army which participated in 2018 in commemorating 100 years since the guns fell silent during the First World War.

He served under five provosts and took charge of parades in London, Glasgow and Paisley, as well as locally.

He was officially welcomed as chief by Provost Martin Brennan and pipers Ross Davidson, 17, and Tai Bao, 15, from nearby Clydeview Academy, which overlooks the park.

Provost Brennan said: “I am delighted that the Gourock Highland Games are back after forced cancellations over the past two years and it also gives me great pleasure to announce George as our leader.

“I have known George for many years and he is well known throughout Inverclyde for a variety of reasons, but none more than his excellent service leading our annual Remembrance Sunday as Parade Commander for 27 years.

“With this experience and expertise, this year’s Gourock Highland Games are in safe hands.”

The Gourock Games are the first of the season and are organized in partnership with the Royal Scottish Highland Games Association (RSHGA).

Ian Grieve, secretary of the Royal Scottish Highland Games Association, said: “The Association hope we have a full season this year and are delighted that Gourock Highland Games is starting the season off on the right foot.”

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Jennifer R. Strohm