THIS week Craig Borland pays tribute to Helensburgh councillor Ellen Morton, who has died aged 76 – and to others in Helensburgh and Lomond who continue to work for their communities instead of enjoying a leisurely retirement.

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ELLEN MORTON was one of the few people in Helensburgh who I knew – or at least knew of – when I came to work for the Advertiser in 2016.

I’ve been writing about local government in Argyll and Bute for nearly as long as Ellen was a councillor, so the various local authority hats Ellen wore over the years meant our professional paths occasionally crossed. She always made a point of saying how much she appreciated the fair treatment I gave her, and I always appreciated the way that she never resorted to blaming the media for any negative publicity that might have come her way.

I hope Ellen’s family won’t mind if I reveal that the last time we spoke was when she phoned me at the end of July to tell me about her illness – and to vow that in spite of her failing health she would, as I’d asked, file her Councillor Column for the Advertiser by the end of that week.

READ MORE: 'You crossed her at your peril': Tributes to Helensburgh councillor Ellen Morton

She also told me that she had no intention of standing down as a councillor. Even had she not been ill, at the age of 76 taking life a little bit easier would have been entirely understandable. But Ellen was far from alone in deciding that retirement was not for her.

Beyond Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute boasts the councillor believed to be the oldest in Scotland – Donnie MacMillan, from Lochgilphead, who turns 93 this weekend. And there are community champions all over Helensburgh and Lomond who continue to serve the places they live and love regardless of the march of time.

We reported only a couple of weeks ago on just one example, Mary Gray, whose passing last month at the age of 89 was felt deeply by all those who knew her in her home village of Garelochhead and beyond. And there are many more whose unstinting efforts on behalf of their communities are worthy of far greater recognition than a nod in the local paper – and who would scoff at the idea that their commitment should be publicly acknowledged at all.

READ MORE: Tributes to Garelochhead's 'guiding light' Mary Gray, who dies aged 89

That does sometimes mean that there’s a shortage of younger people willing to take on some of that effort. And younger people would be right to say that they’d like to spend more time doing good for their communities, but there are other priorities – such as working full time, bringing up a family and making ends meet. But the fact remains that an awful lot of clubs, societies, groups and communities across Helensburgh and Lomond are what they are because of that commitment, passion and experience.

Ellen Morton was just one example of that. Others who knew her better than me are far better placed to pay proper tribute – and many do in this week’s issue.

But I do know that without Ellen, and the many others similarly minded to go on fighting for their particular cause long after they could reasonably have put the cudgels down, Helensburgh and Lomond would be a great deal worse off.

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