George Bruce MBE – A real great character and mentor.

George Bruce

Your first Team leader has a huge impression on you in my case was George Bruce a small wiry Scottish Team Mountain Rescue Team Leader with a with a mind as sharp as a razor. I tried to join the Mountain Rescue as soon as I arrived at RAF Kinloss as a 7 stone and really a  skinny wee lad. I was sent away from the Mountain Rescue by some of the Team who said that they thought I was too skinny. It was just the type of thing that happened in these days and this was just after the Cairngorm disaster in November 1971. The Cairngorm Disaster which is well document in my Blog dated 20 Nov 2011. In this tragedy 5 children and an adult had died on the plateau in November 1971 and the RAF Kinloss Team, Glenmore, Cairngorm Team, Braemar, Aberdeen and SARDA were all involved. It was a tragedy that was change mountaineering for ever. The Kinloss Team was very strong at this time with some huge personalities and characters. George was a non drinker and ruled the team by his strength of character. He was not the best mountaineer by far in this team but what a man manager and got the best out of his team. He was a bit of a Bill Shankly / Alec Ferguson/ Billy connelly his management was superb. His sense of humour was marvellous and his public speaking without notes incredible. He had a way with words that could cut you down in a second if you needed it. He had incredible contact with each estate and new every keeper many who remained friends long after he retired. He kept the Officers and the powers that be in their place and looked after his men whatever they did.  He had a knack of on a big callout being able to  work with the Police and other Team Leaders easily due to his people skills and could fight his corner when needed. He looked after us all and often gave me a few words of wisdom behind the office door. Outside of the team they got into a few scrapes but George was always there to sort it out. He looked after me when I joined and made sure that I was kept on the right track. It is amazing how such a man can effect you life in the future. George ended up at Grantown On Spey at the Centre there before he retired. He was a Physical Training Instructor and a parachute Instructor, one of the finest in his day. At this centre he had many visits from the senior officers of the RAF. George would regal them with stories, one day a very high senior officer of “Air Rank” near God in the military forgot his rucksack arriving in the Cairngorm car park in a wild day with no gear. When asked where his rucksack was  he said I do not need it George as quick as always said the immortal words” the mountains have no respect for rank , you had better get back and get it. George was always there with advice and we became great friends. When I became the RAF Leuchars Team Leader George spoke at the dinner at the Kingshouse Hotel in Glencoe. He was amazing taking the “micky” out of everyone. The last time I met him he was dying of cancer and yet what a chat we had in Aviemore. He was still upset that Rangers were in a bad way and he hardly spoke of his illness just about life and so many great stories of past days.  His funeral a few years ago was down in Prestonpans near Edinburgh and I was given the great privileged of carrying a cord at the grave.

I was very lucky to meet and work with such men as George Bruce. I still miss him as many of us do.


About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
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9 Responses to George Bruce MBE – A real great character and mentor.

  1. Fulton Bruce says:

    Very kind words, Thank you very much from Fulton & Yvonne


  2. William Bruce says:

    Miss my grandad so much he is my hero and my best friend always. I love you so much grandad and miss you so much

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes as many of us do. My hero as well.


  4. Mark Ellis says:

    Memories of a very good mentor when as a “green” recruit I was keen on mountains.
    Mark Ellis (mostly Akrotiri, Cyprus)


  5. Les Mann says:

    Wireless Operator with George NEAF Mrt 1963 1966. What a boss. Saved my future when with commom sense he got me to make a toy for his son which prevented my excessive Rum intake. Haven’t had Rum since.

    Liked by 1 person

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