Working with true characters. George Bruce BEM.

It’s fun looking back and seeing the old i photos of some of the characters. I was so lucky to meet so many that had an influence on my life over the years.

George lead the team through his wit and leadership. I met him as my first team leader he stuck up for me often giving my bosses a hard time for me being out on Rescues. It was great to have him as back up of things went wrong.

I was extremely lucky he took me under his wing and taught me so much early on in my mountaineering career. Often getting a hard time from some of the old and bold of that time.

He seemed to know everyone and shared with me so many aspects of life. He made big bonds with the Keepers and Ghillies in most estates. He also knew how to deal with the landowners and the big bosses in the military. He spoke openly and told the truth after a epic. George was great at letting you into the conservation with the leading lights of the day. He was a pals with Bill Brooker, Fred Harper, Eric Langmuir, Ben Humble, Hamish McInness and so many others all over Scotland. As a tee totaler he did not need alcohol and his wit was legendary. I was so proud when I was asked to be a pall bearer for him when he passed away. He had spoken privately that he had cancer to a few of us. He said when how long did he have left would he see his beloved Rangers win the European cup the Consultant said sadly not. He passed away a few weeks later.

George rarely spoke about his exploits but he was a key man during the Cairngorm tragedy in 1971 helping direct the helicopter into the plateau in appalling weather by walking in front ! He spoke to all the same way. His famous story of taking some Air Marshal out on the hill and he forgot his bag. It was full on winter. George replied” The Mountains have no respect for rank go and get your bag” you can pay for the coffee while we wait for you.

He was a brilliant speaker all off the cuff. He was an early “Billy Connelly “for quick replies and was never short of words. He was a Physical Training Instructor but smoked at lot. He became a very proficient parachute instructor but his skills were in Mountain Rescue. He became a Mountain Rescue Team Leader and was great at getting information from survivors of an accident and thought out of the box on rescues. It was the way he made folks feel comfortable that they opened up to him a rare skill.

He made pals everywhere no matter who or what they did and when he left the service he became a key man in the Pentland where he introduced many to the outdoors.

Leadership I feel is learning from folk like George. He would laugh at some of the ways we teach it now. He possessed so many skills. Communication he could talk to anyone. Humour always there too bring humour into a tale.

Learning from the past and mistakes made and being honest about it. He was despite being a small man had a strong character if you messed with him you were sorted out.

I often think of George and his stories.

We were talking about searches it was for a Ghillie who went missing. As normal the Police and local Team leader briefed us and we were given basic information. George them spoke to his workmates who said he would have a Garron with him ( a Highland pony for taking stags of the hill. George went out in a land rover and saw a Garron on its own by the track. The Ghillie was injured not far from it. George got him sorted and took him back where he recovered. His thinking was always get the story first hand many things get missed in the initial rush to search areas. A lesson I never forgot !

Thanks George

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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6 Responses to Working with true characters. George Bruce BEM.

  1. Hammy Anderson says:

    He was brilliant

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gus Tait says:

    I never tired listening to George’s stories especially at the Reunions. He was a great man and an inspiration to many. RIP George.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Phil Luff says:

    George was my first Team Leader when I joined the Akrotiri Team as an 18 year
    Old ex Brat!
    He also put up with me when I was his PSWop at Kinloss 69/70!
    We did our Mountain Leadership course at Llanrwst together just before
    We left the Mob…….Being on a course with George was always hilarious!
    We both ended up working as Countryside Rangers and spoke and compared notes often.
    George really was a star. It was a privilege to have known him.

    Liked by 1 person

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