Gourock Games Back With A Bang

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Gourock Games Back With A Bang

Gourock Highland Games are making a triumphant return after a two-year absence and the event will be in safe hands with a Navy veteran and former police custody officer named as chieftain.

Local man George McLeary will take over the reins of the first Gourock Games since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday 8 May 2022.

George, 66, is originally from Larkfield and worked for over 50 years in the shipyards, the Navy and the police.

He spent 34 years in the Greenock Royal Naval Reserves reaching the rank of Chief Petty Officer before retirement in 2012 and served as a custody officer in Greenock Police office for three decades until hanging 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 area’s annual Remembrance Sunday commemorations as parade commander.

He will now add chieftain of the Gourock Highland Games – traditionally the first games of the season – to his long and impressive CV and takes the reins in what is the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The event will take place at Battery Park on Sunday 8 May 2022 from 12-6pm and it is free entry.

George said: “To be asked to be the chieftain of Gourock Highland Games is a great privilege and honour that has been bestowed on me. And what a year to be selected on Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

“I would like to say thank you to the people who made this possible and I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone there to enjoy a great day.

“To follow the chosen people and celebrities who have done this role before me is such a great honour and achievement and to complete another great chapter in my life and one that I will treasure forever.”

George was welcomed as chieftain by Provost of Inverclyde, Martin Brennan, and pipers Ross Davidson, 17, and Tai Bao, 15, from nearby Clydeview Academy, which overlooks the park.

Provost Martin Brennan said: “I’m delighted that the Gourock Highland Games are back after enforced cancellations for the last two years. It also gives me great pleasure to announce George McLeary as our chieftain.

“I’ve known George for many years and he is well-known right across Inverclyde for a variety of reasons but none more so than his sterling service leading our annual Remembrance Sunday commemorations as parade commander for the last 27 years.

“With that experience and expertise, this year’s Gourock Highland Games are in safe hands and I wish George all the very best come 8 May.”

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

Ian Grieve, secretary of the RSHGA, said: “The Royal Scottish Highland Games Association are hopeful that we might have a full season this year and are delighted that Gourock Highland Games will get the season off to a great start.”

The Gourock Games will be followed this year by the British Pipe Band Championships a fortnight later on Sunday 22 May 2022.

Both are part of Inverclyde Council’s flagship Meliora Festival which will also include the Inverclyde Warrior 5k obstacle course, also at Battery Park, on 11 June, a special Scotland v England girls’ under-15s anniversary international football match at Ravenscraig Stadium on 15 May and a visual arts spectacular which is still to be announced.

Provost Brennan said: “We have an action-packed programme of events coming up this summer as part of the Meliora Festival to help people reunite and enjoy first-class entertainment right on their doorstep after being stuck indoors for the best part of two years.

“It’s also an opportunity to showcase Inverclyde as a great place to visit and encourage more people to discover what we have to offer.

“What better way to start the festivities than with the return of the Gourock Games which, combined the addition of the British Pipe Band Championships this year and the creation of a new schools’ pipe band, demonstrates Inverclyde’s commitment to pipe bands and Highland games.”

As well as a distinguished career in the shipyards, Navy, police and serving Inverclyde on Remembrance Sunday, Gourock Games chieftain George was also involved in the local sea cadets and served on the management committee for 10 years, raised the Armed Forces Flag on behalf of the council on two occasions, was involved in the Greenock Blitz 75th anniversary commemorations, led the Battle of Arras centenary parade, and took charge of the French Military who attended in 2018 to commemorate 100 years since the guns fell silent in the First World War.

George has also served under five provosts of Inverclyde and has taken charge of parades in London, Glasgow and Paisley, as well as in Greenock and Gourock.

He is now retired and keeping active by cycling and walking. George said: “I’ve done all right for a local boy from Larkfield.”

For more information about Gourock Highland Games and what Inverclyde has to offer, visit discoverinverclyde.com and follow @GourockHGames on Twitter and @GourockHighlandGames on Facebook. 

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