FAMILY members from as far away as Canada joined representatives of the military and the Helensburgh community on Sunday for the unveiling of a permanent memorial to First World War hero George Findlay.

Colonel Findlay – who later reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel – won Britain’s highest military honour for his exceptional bravery at the Battle of Sambre.

And Sunday’s ceremony, held outside Drumfork House, where Colonel Findlay lived for more than 40 years until his death in 1967, took place one hundred years to the day since the act of bravery which won him the Victoria Cross on November 4, 1918.

The event, held on a beautiful autumn day, also saw a significant military presence, with Legion Scotland represented alongside a group of officers from the Royal Engineers, with whom Colonel Findlay served, and members of the Royal Engineers’ Association.

Charlie Findlay, Colonel Findlay’s great-nephew, paid tribute to all those who attended the ceremony and who contributed to the organising of the event.

Mr Findlay, who spoke about his great-uncle’s army service and life outside the military, told the Advertiser: “George’s closest living relative, my aunt, travelled from Ottawa with her granddaughter to be present at the event.

“It all went off extremely well. It was touching to see the number of people from Helensburgh who came along to pay their respects after reading the article in the Advertiser last week, including a group of children from Lomond School, who are studying the First World War as part of their syllabus.

“There is a whole generation in Helensburgh who now feel a connection with the First World War through someone who is part of Helensburgh’s heritage.

“I particularly appreciated the presence of the Royal Engineers contingent – George may have been part of a previous generation, but they were very interested in what he did both from a professional perspective and as part of their history.

“The story of how George won his Victoria Cross is starting to become more well known, but very few even in the family knew a great deal about his story before that and about what else he did, both in the military and in life – those who knew him mostly knew of him as a kindly, intelligent, if a little eccentric, member of the family.

“But he was held in high regard by all those who remember him as a favourite uncle.”

As well as Colonel Findlay’s story, and the description of the act of bravery which won him the VC, Sunday’s ceremony also included a prayer and blessing by Reverend David T. Young, minister of Helensburgh Parish Church.

The ceremony was followed by a civic reception for the family at Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre, hosted by Argyll and Bute Council, who were represented at both the ceremony and reception by Provost Len Scoullar and by Councillors Aileen and Ellen Morton.

Also present on Sunday was Helensburgh Community Council convener Norman Muir, who worked with the family, Argyll and Bute Council and Drumfork House’s owner, Kevan O’Neill, on the organisation of both the memorial and the ceremony.

Mr Muir said: “It was a very well-attended ceremony, on a lovely day, and the memorial to Colonel Findlay will now form an important part of the town’s history.

“Kevan O’Neill deserves enormous credit for all the work he has done on Colonel Findlay, and the memorial, over the last four years, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to be present at the ceremony.

“A number of businesses and individuals also contributed to the cost of the memorial, and they, too, deserve to be thanked.

“Colonel Findlay was a very brave man – he served in both world wars, and also won two Military Crosses,and was rightly highly decorated, so he was no man’s mug.

“It was fitting to see his family, the military and the Helensburgh community come together for what was a very touching ceremony.”