George Welsh, PE teacher to the royals and one of the men who guided Nairn County to Highland League glory has died aged 97.
He was head of physical education at Gordonstoun School for 27 years and assistant manager at both Nairn County and Elgin City.
Mr Welsh never fully retired. He continued to play a part at Gordonstoun’s summer school and acted in an ambassadorial role until shortly before his death.
Over the years he taught thousands of pupils from all walks of life including Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Peter Phillips and Zara Phllips (Tindall).
In 2010, the Queen and Prince Philip opened the first phase of the school’s sports centre named in his honour. Olympians Zara Tindall and Heather Stanning opened the second phase of the George Welsh Sports Centre in 2013.
Gordonstoun paid tribute to Mr Welsh: “Generations of students owe George so much in sport, reels, and in the influence of his gentle yet powerful character. He was much loved and will be sorely missed.”
Nairn County also paid tribute to Mr Welsh, while former Aberdeen player Neil Simpson said he had great memories of him at pre-season camps at Gordonstoun.
George Welsh was born in Ardersier in 1923 to William and Charlotte Welsh.
His father, who came from Glasgow, was a First World War veteran who had been shot at Basra and went on to work at Fort George. His mother, who came from Berwick-upon-Tweed, had come north to work for the Ministry of Defence at Fort George.
George was educated at Ardersier primary school before being send to Queen Victoria School, Dunblane.
In 1938 he joined the Seaforths as a boy soldier. His role was a highland dancer with the Seaforth band and they toured the south coast of England giving exhibition performances.
When war seemed inevitable, the band was sent back to Fort George, where he transferred to the gymnasium unit as a PT instructor in 1941.
George was then transferred to Pinefield Barracks, Elgin, to improve the fitness of men called up for war service. During his time in Elgin, he met his future wife, Elizabeth Gilhooly. They were married at St Giles, Church, Elgin, in 1946.
In 1944/45 he joined the Army Physical Training Corps and was promoted to sergeant with a remit to run physical training units at bases across the world.
Work with veterans
His first post was at a convalescence hospital in Bedford where he worked with wounded soldiers on their rehabilitation.
George served around the world including in Malaya, North Rhodesia, Ceylon, Egypt and Hong Kong before returning to the UK in 1958/59 to work with the Royal Scots.
He was an exceptional hockey player who represented and captained teams worldwide. In 1948 he played twice for Sri Lanka (Ceylon) against India who that year became Olympic champions.
One of his last tasks in the army was to train the Great Britain and Ireland hockey team before its participation in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
At the age of 42, George retired after 27 years in the army and the couple moved to Hopeman.
George’s son Garry said: “My mother was glad to be back in her home area. At the time, Gordonstoun School was looking for someone to head up its PE department and my father got the job.
“When he got there, he found outdoor, hockey, rugby and athletics pitches but no indoor facilities so his work back then required a lot of improvisation.
“He taught many royals and many others and worked on until 1983 or 1984 when he retired. However, he was back within a few months working part-time and coaching hockey teams.”
George also played a major part in Gordonstoun’s summer school, which attracts young people from around the world. He was later appointed as an ambassador for Gordonstoun, meeting parents of prospective pupils and representing the school at events.
Outside work, George was assistant to Elgin City manager Innes Macdonald, a PE teacher at Elgin Academy, during a successful period in the 1960s. The partnership endured when they took over at Nairn County and led the side to the 1975/76 Highland League championship.
George’s wife died in 2012.
The family’s announcement can he read here