George Robertson, O.B.E. (1920 – 2013)
With the death on 14th July 2013 of George Robertson, O.B.E., a modest, hard-working, man of integrity has been lost from many sectors of Scottish life – and Tennis Scotland has lost one of its longest-serving servants...
Born in 1920, George was the eldest of four siblings. He attended James Gillespie's Primary School before winning scholarships to attend George Heriots, where he enjoyed science, debating, rugby and cricket in equal measure.
On leaving school, George turned down a bursary to attend the University of Edinburgh in favour of a post in the Civil Service where he could immediately start contributing to the family finances. His early adulthood included a period of dealing with osteomyelitis, and six years in the Forces as a signalman during the Second World War, including time spent in India.
George greatly valued his family life - he met and married Kathleen in 1944, adopting three children Graeme, Michael, and Fiona. Sadly, Kathleen died in 1969, losing a battle with cancer that she endured with quiet dignity. George married his second wife Jean a few years later, and their daughter Morag was born in 1975. But, with further sadness, Jean also succumbed to cancer in 1991.
George remained with the Civil Service throughout his career, quickly rising 'through the ranks'. While at the Department of Health, he led the Mass Radiography programme across Scotland that led to 1.8 million people being X-rayed. He was also appointed Chairman of the Management Committee of the State Hospital at Carstairs – a role he continued for 7 years after his retirement from the Civil Service and for which he was awarded the O.B.E. in 1983.
In 'retirement', George joined the management committee of the Scottish Adoption Association; became Chairman of the Board of Governors of St Denis and Cranley School; and chaired the Centenary Appeal Fund that raised £129,000 for the upgrading of Craiglockhart Church.
Alongside his impressive career across these Health, Education, Disabled, Adoption, and Mental Health sectors, George was also passionate about Scottish sport – particularly football and tennis. A lifelong Hearts fan, the 1998 Scottish Cup Final victory over Rangers at Celtic Park was a real highlight, while his cancelling of his first-ever teenage date with a girl due to a clash with a Tynecastle fixture was one of his fondest memories !
George's involvement in Scottish tennis commenced in his late teens, and in 1938, he was a founder member of the Telman Tennis Club, (now Thistle LTC and run for many years now by John Paterson. husband of George's niece Jane) and this led on to roles as a Tournament Referee in the 1950s, East of Scotland LTA President (1963/4), and Scottish Lawn Tennis Association President (1965/66). It was during this time that a lifelong, pipe-smoking, friendship with National Coach Bill Moss developed as they improved the tennis coaching structure across Scotland.
Due to injury and his wife Kathleen's illness, George's direct involvement in tennis stopped in 1968, but his interest was rekindled in the early 1970s when he became National Organiser of the Grass Roots Coaching Scheme (then sponsored by Green Shield Stamps) for a seven year period.
George also took responsibility for producing a history of the Scottish Lawn Tennis Association for its centenary in 1995 – 'Tennis in Scotland: 100 Years of the Scottish Lawn Tennis Association, 1895-1995' - a role which enabled him to re-engage and collaborate with the Scottish Tennis world over a two year period and one which George described as both enjoyable and therapeutic, leaving him happy, fulfilled, and justifiably proud of a job well done.
Since then he maintained a keen interest in Tennis Scotland, always providing his trademark polite, well-considered support and advice whenever needed, from his position as an Honorary Vice President.
George is survived by Graeme, Michael, Fiona and Morag, and grandchildren Suzanne, Sally, Flynn and Eirinn, along with his sister Isabel. They can be assured he will be sadly missed and remembered by everyone involved with tennis in Scotland as a true gentleman of our sport.
Tennis Scotland has a limited number of George's book, 'Tennis in Scotland: 100 years of the Scottish Lawn Tennis Association, 1895 - 1995' - if you would like a copy please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0131 444 1984 for further information.