Tribute to George Walker, Carnwath

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THE funeral service of long-standing local resident George Walker was held at Carnwath Church on Monday.

George (87) died suddenly at his Couthally Gardens home on Hogmanay morning, just a few hours before he had been due to light Carnwath Bonfire in front of hundreds of spectators.

His devastated wife Margaret (84) said: "George's death came as a terrible shock, because he had really been looking forward to lighting the bonfire.

"He had been really pleased that he was asked to do it. I think it was recognition for the fact that he was a very popular local character who'd lived in Carnwath for over 60 years.

"People knew him from playing the organ at weddings and church services.

"George and I went to accordion club once a month in recent years and he was still playing the accordion until last year."

Born in Kirkurd, Peebleshire, George's first job came when he worked as a teenage gardener at nearby Castlecraig.

Called up to the Royal Air Force in 1942, George served for four years before being demobbed in 1946.

He first met future wife Margaret on a bus bound for Carnwath (where they both lived), as she was returning home having just watched a film at Lanark's Regal Cinema.

The happy couple were married at Carnwath Church in 1949.

By this time George had begun working as a gardener at Carstairs State Hospital, where he was also promoted to occupations officer before leaving to become gardens and grounds manager at Lothian Health Board in 1979.

Having previously played the Carnwath Church organ at Sunday services, George continued his musical turns by playing the accordion and piano for both Tom Simpson's band from Forth and the Lanark-based Thistle Quartet.

George also enjoyed several years of membership with Carnwath cycle speedway team, and relished going with Margaret to the Saturday night speedway at Meadowbank.

George and Margaret have one daughter, Helen, who is now 55-years-old.