Former Ballater chairman receives award

A FORMER Ballater soldier was the toast of Edinburgh Castle at a recent awards ceremony.

Thursday, 15th July 2010, 10:18 am

George Walker, who moved to Culgaith in Cumbria last year, was the Friends of the Forces award winner at the Royal British Legion Scotland's (RBLS) first ceremony.

George, 71, was chair of the Ballater branch of the RBLS for eight years before he moved south, and still takes an active interest in its work.

He received recognition at the awards after raising thousands of pounds for various charities over the years.

The former Black Watch regimental sergeant major raised 1,200 for Erskine Hospital four years ago by walking 192 miles from Sheil Bridge to Catterline in 11 days.

And he has also made another lengthy 190-mile trip for British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association (BLESMA), contributing around 1,000 to the cause.

The current chair of Ballater's RBLS Bill Houston said: "George has always been a loyal supporter of the RBLS and his commitment to promoting the work of ex-servicemen and women is a tribute to his dedication and passion.

"While George may have moved away, I know many people in Ballater will be interested to hear of his award, and I can say he was asked to take part in another walk around the north of England and south of Scotland when he was at the ceremony."

George and his wife Mary made the trip to Edinburgh for the accolade. They were joined by Margaret Ramsey, who was representing Ballater RBLS and congratulated George on his honour.

The awards scheme was launched in February as a joint project by the RBLS and the London based Royal British Legion (TRBL). Its governor Major General David Shaw presented the winners with their prizes.

There were over 450 nominations for the awards, and the judging panel included John Nichol, the RAF navigator shot down over Iraq in 1991, the RBLS's general secretary George Ross, and it was chaired by chief of the defence staff, air chief marshall Sir Jock Stirrup.

RBLS chairman Dallas Roy said at the ceremony: "The main principles upon which the Legions are based are the need to look after former members of the armed forces who are in need, to remember the debt of honour to the fallen and to educate the public as to the importance of both help and remembrance. I feel very strongly that with the Friends of the Forces Awards that these principles are being strengthened."

After such a successful day for the Ballater branch at Edinburgh Castle, chair Bill Houston, is keen to encourage new members to come along to the RBLS.

He said they are always looking for new members of all ages.

He added: "People imagine that they have to be an ex-serviceman to be a member. The rules changed last year, and anyone with an interest can now join. It is an association which is involved in the Poppy Appeal, as well as representing the branch at different events. We have had six new members in the last year and we are very happy to welcome anyone who cares to join us."

To find out more information about joining Ballater's RBLS contact Bill at [email protected] or (013397) 56015.