George Douglas - National President 1997 - 1998
George Douglas – National President 1997 - 1998
(The following is the Eulogy as given by Alastair McFarlane at George’s Funeral on 19th May 2016).
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a few thoughts …a few experiences from a world of happy memories.
You see, George and I were very much members of an endangered species!
There could well be some folks nowadays…indeed some here today who have never heard of Round Table. It was in 1927 that the then Prince of Wales suggested “The young business and professional men of this country must get together round the table, adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past, adapt them to the changing needs of our times and, wherever possible, improve them!”“Adopt, Adapt, Improve”…the very essence of the organisation where George and I met.
Innovative, alert, focused, contributing to community activities and helping those in need both here and abroad and en routea whole lot of fun…..
Our area extended as far as Islay where a memorable inauguration dinner was held in this home of so many distilleries… There was many a prank played that night . George discovered on the morning after that he had been sharing his bed with a stuffed bear which had previously adorned the reception area. It certainly provided a wake up call……………………………..
There was many a challenge, as well, of course. Did you know that Glasgow’s becoming a location for conferences came from 4,000 Round Tablers and partners descending on the city in 1978……
In advance, of course, we had to find out what these events were all about….. George, Jeanette, Isobel and I chose Blackpool to do so. We were a conventional foursome, suited and booted for an evening out! In our ignorance we did not expect to be surrounded by an absolutely zany multitude, each and every one dressed in the most way out fancy dress costumes imaginable.. Yes, you got it right, we were the only four not in fancy dress. We still had a fabulous time……..
George was responsible for booking all accommodation for our 4,000 visitors to the city for Round Table’s Glasgow Conference in 1978. All rooms were booked well in advance all around the city. With the conference in May, January of that year saw the 100 bedroom Grosvenor Hotel burned to the ground. Talk about a headache turning to migraine……but it was a case of “Leave it to George ” and, yes, everyone was accommodated.
As if that was not enough we had dozens of awkward people. I can still hear them, “I am Secretary of such and such Round Table. I find that I am not in the room precisely next to that of my Chairman. You need to move my room! He expects me to be next door.” Yes this was for real…….time and time again.
Tablers moved out of Round Table at that time at the age of 40 ,hence the formation of 41 Clubs ….the only specification being former membership of Round Table. 1945 saw the formation of the first such Club. Its aim a simple one…..to continue the friendships developed in Round Table. That organisation focused very positively indeed in George’s activities from his moving out of Helensburgh Round Table.
Running parallel for a while was membership of Helensburgh Garelochside Rotary Club….yes, yet another service organisation, not forgetting membership of the management team of Argyll Community Housing Association and Greenlight Recycling. Ask, as they say, a busy man! George’s involvement touched a lot of lives.
Notice in the so called enlightened age of Equality and Diversity, we find, in 41 Club, the last bastions of an all male organisation!
The camaraderie, the involvement, the fun, the fellowship all suited George admirably. There was no escape…he moved up through the ranks and in 1997 became National President. The Annual General Meeting over which he presided was one of the most memorable in the history of the Association in that, at it, the annual capitation fee was reduced…..changed days indeed!
Perhaps the role can be likened to that of a Kirk minister….everyone makes a contribution, therefore they expect the Minister…..and, in this instance, the President, to turn up …to make a scintillating speech then depart the scene! They forget the hundreds of miles travelled to be there as well as the preparation time.
For many other Presidents there has tended to be more concentrationon the so called Heartlands of the movement around London and the Home Counties, but for George, based in Scotland, he gave his total focus to the whole of the UK, this including memorable visits to his beloved far-flung Scottish islands.
The 41 Club movement is also an International one and this saw George and Jeanette making never to be forgotten visits abroad, all the time meeting with those who shared their dedication to everything that the movement stands for …. Yes many happy times were spent reminiscing in far away places with strange sounding names on how those balmy days of Round Table had affected all of their lives and, indeed also, their attitude towards life.
Of course being the main speaker at dinner engagements was very much part of the role and during his year of office George chartered new clubs in Loughborough and Costa del Sol.
How , then, best to sum up when sharing memories of such a dear friend?……. a poem from an American writerJanice Fair-Salters brings together many of the most appropriate thoughts
Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free, I'm following the path God laid for me. I took his hand when I heard his call, I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day, To laugh, to love, to work, to play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way, I've found that peace at the end of the day.
If my parting has left a void, Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss, Ah, yes, these things, too, I will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow, I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My Life's been full, I savoured much, Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch. Perhaps my time seemed all too brief, Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me, God wanted me now, He set me free.