George Bennett

Civil engineer, piper and mountaineer

Born: 22 March, 1917, in Glasgow.

Died 23 April, 2009, in Crieff, aged 92.

GEORGE Bennett was the son of a blacksmith and grandson of an innovative bicycle maker. He grew up during the Depression and developed an early interest in engineering. A keen piper, George joined the Lovat Scouts TA in 1935 then the RAOC in 1939 when war broke out. In 1940, he was among the 40,000 soldiers left behind after Dunkirk and, against all odds, he survived the horrors of the 310 mile "long march" to freedom.

He studied civil engineering and architecture in Glasgow at the Royal College of Science and Technology (now Strathclyde University) and began his professional career with A & J Main, structural engineers, steel building and bridge manufacturers. In that office, he met Margaret Stewart of Glenconon, Skye whom he married in 1940.

After the war, George was among the civil engineers recruited for the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board's scheme to connect Highland homes to the National Grid and the couple settled in Skye. He supervised the building of power houses at Nostie (Lochalsh) and Storr Lochs (Skye) and several other construction projects. He was a member of the Skye Mountain Rescue Team, a role which turned a former hobby into several dangerous expeditions. In 1958, he joined Wm Tawse Ltd as a supervising engineer and the family moved to the Isle of Lewis where, as one elderly man said: "George Bennett changed the way of life. We used to have to queue at the village pump till he put running water in every home."

In 1963, he was transferred to Shetland for projects that included the library and museum in Lerwick. At the age of 48, he was offered a directorship of the company, but declined, in favour of an adventurous job offer in Newfoundland, where there was a great shortage of experienced engineers. He was to remain in Canada for 42 years, settling in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he was much in demand as a consultant long after retiral age.

George was a keen outdoorsman, with a great love of camping and motorcycling, particularly to Prince Edward Island where he kept a summer cabin. After retirement he studied anthropology, philosophy and economics at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia (for the sheer pleasure of learning) then, in his seventies, he made two back-packing trips round the word.

He was an enthusiastic musician, a fine piper who "dabbled" on piano, clarinet and flute. He had an interest across many musical genres and also in sound technology, which, with piping, he shared with his prodigiously talented grandson, the late Martyn Bennett, whose energetic and imaginative performances continue to influence musicians world-wide.

George lived life to the full before returning to Scotland in February this year. He settled in Crieff where, for too short a time, he was happily surrounded by family and friends.

George Bennett is survived by four daughters, his sister, nine grand-children, thirteen great-grand-children and many friends.