Tributes to former Edinburgh Tory councillor and veteran sportsman

George Hunter played a key role in twice bringing the Commonwealth Games to Edinburgh.George Hunter played a key role in twice bringing the Commonwealth Games to Edinburgh.
George Hunter played a key role in twice bringing the Commonwealth Games to Edinburgh. | National World
'A true gentleman' and 'one of the unsung heroes of Scottish sport'

Tributes have been paid to former Edinburgh Tory councillor and veteran sportsman George Hunter, who has died, aged 97.

A keen rower, he worked with the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland for over 40 years and played a key part, as treasurer and then general secretary, in bringing both the 1970 and 1986 Games to Edinburgh.

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He later represented Craiglockhart at the City Chambers for 15 years.

He was awarded an OBE in 1980 for services to sport following his involvement with numerous sporting organisations, including the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association.

And In 2011 the council awarded him the Will Y Darling Award for Good Citizenship for his work as chair of the Water of Leith Trust, a role he started when the charity was founded in 1988.

Educated at George Watson's College, Mr Hunter was called up in 1944 at the age of 18 and seconded to the Indian army, where he was put in charge of 3000 Japanese prisoners of war in Java and rose through the ranks to become a captain.

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After the war, he returned to working for Lawson Donaldson Seeds, where he had started as an apprentice and went on to become a senior director.

He formed George Watson's College Rowing Club in 1954. He was also heavily involved in local badminton groups.

He started his political career late in life. When first elected as a councillor in Craiglockhart in 1992 he had a majority of just 80, but by 2003 he had increased that figure to around 2500.  He stepped down in 2007.

Edinburgh Tory group leader Iain Whyte said: “George will be sadly missed by Conservative members and former colleagues.  I am sure there are also longer term residents in Craiglockhart who will remember his work benefiting the area.  He kept in touch with residents by knocking on every door in the ward over the period between elections and was easily recognised as he always wore his trademark bowler hat. 

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 “A true gentleman, George avoided the more directly political aspects of the council and just made sure he got things done for the people he represented.  His time as a councillor started on the old Edinburgh District Council and continued on the new City of Edinburgh Council. When he finally retired after 15 years in 2007 he was 81. 

"He was always very proud of his work to help sport in the city and Scotland, being part of bringing the Commonwealth Games to Edinburgh twice.  A rower and later rowing coach he also helped improve the Union Canal and chaired the Water of Leith Trust for many years.”

And Jon Doig, chief executive of Commonwealth Games Scotland, said: “George was one of the unsung heroes of Scottish sport at a time when it was amateur and totally reliant on volunteers. He gave so much of his personal time to both rowing and the Games for the benefit of others. I had the pleasure of meeting with him as a Life Member and remember fondly his passion for the Games,  his quick wit and trademark bowler hat.”

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