Obituary: George Roberts - Engineer who worked in Africa and Asia before becoming an SNP councillor in Glasgow

Born: 27 November, 1942, in Belfast. Died: 19 September, 2011, in Glasgow, aged 68

HE MADE a difference. George indeed made a difference. Whenever George became involved in an enterprise he became committed and enthusiastic. Whether it was about his squash club, the Children’s Panel, appreciating wine, whisky and music, or being a councillor for Glasgow City Council – George encouraged everyone he met to become as involved and dedicated as he was.

Having left school, George attended Strathclyde University where he qualified as a civil engineer, although he was annoyed to have been awarded a degree from Strathclyde and would have much preferred a diploma from the Royal College of Science and Technology, as the institution was formerly known. On completing his degree, George then became a chartered engineer, a career expressly chosen in order to allow him to travel.

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While at Strathclyde, George had met Sheila through some mutual friends.

Their relationship duly blossomed and they were married on 8 April, 1969. George’s first job abroad came when he and Sheila moved to Algeria for four months, which proved to be an eye-opening experience for both of them and one which expanded their cultural horizons.

In August 1974, George and Sheila’s son Ewan was born. Some time later George took a new job in Tanzania, where he and his family spent a year and a half, and then later moved to northern Nigeria for another 18 months.

George loved the cultural novelty of these experiences living abroad, but the building projects he was involved in – building motorways and airports – were not ones that ignited his natural enthusiasm.

Instead, what George wanted was to build things that benefited the great mass of the people in these countries. The opportunity to do just this came when they moved to Hong Kong, where they lived for around eight years, with George working on the mass transit system and then later in China working on a new harbour project.

When his spell in China came to an end, George and his family returned to the UK and George worked in London, before returning to Glasgow.

Throughout his working life George was a keen squash player. He had been a member of Broomhill Lawn Tennis and Squash Club in Glasgow since the early 1970s and wherever he travelled, in Africa as well as Hong Kong, he was able to indulge in this pastime.

Back in Glasgow, he served as club president for 2002/03 and 2003/04 and took a major personal interest in helping upgrade the club courts and provided leadership when the club needed financial guidance. George continued to serve the club in many ways after that, and was instrumental in setting up the club’s website. He continued to operate it until recently.

George had been involved in the Children’s Panel, and it proved to be a catalyst in starting him thinking more seriously about taking an active role in politics.

By the early 1990s George was convinced that Scotland needed a voice of its own, and so with some encouragement he became actively involved in the Scottish National Party. Four years ago he was elected to Glasgow City Council – a post that he was immensely proud to hold and which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Tributes have been paid to him from all across the council. George cared passionately about his Hillhead ward, and it showed. From the work he did on houses of multiple occupancy – of which Hillhead has many – to his concern about winter maintenance for the streets and roads in his ward, he served the people of Hillhead well and they are all the poorer for his passing.

As a committee member on the sustainability and environmental committee and on the regeneration and the economy committee he was excellent – always prepared, always with a question or two (or sometimes three or four) – and if he did not like the answer he was always ready to fight his corner in the nicest possible way.

As a perfectionist, when George became interested in something he committed his time and energy to it fully, and so it was with being a councillor – he wanted to make a difference to the people he served in the Hillhead ward and to the people of Glasgow in general. He felt this was the best way he could serve the interests of the Scottish National Party.

George Roberts died suddenly after a very short battle with cancer and is survived by his wife Sheila and their son Ewan. He is sadly missed by all his family, friends and colleagues.

CONTRIBUTED