George Bain

George Bain a depute director of education in Strathclyde Region, died on November 21, aged 71.

Born in Kilmarnock, he attended evening classes after leaving school while working for ICI by day. On obtaining his Higher National Diploma, he became a shift manager at ICI.

When he moved to education, George taught at Shortlees Primary in Kilmarnock. Then, at the age of 30, he attended Strathclyde University and graduated with an honours degree in chemistry, science and physics.

After a spell teaching at Cumnock Academy, he found himself seconded to County Buildings in Ayr and, several months later, was formally appointed the council's depute director of education. He had been the driving force behind a community and further education blueprint which was many years ahead of its time.

By the eve of the 1974 re-organisation of local government, George had established a fully functioning community education service in Ayrshire with a range of community centres and community associations, in addition to a network of outdoor education centres delivering everything from hill walking and orienteering, through skiing on dry ski slopes, to canoeing and sailing.

He formed a successful figure skating club in Ayr and was, for 12 years, chairman of Opera West. George created the first "Billy Elliot", funding an Ayrshire boy from a poor background to become a ballet dancer.

He then came into his own when the giant Strathclyde Regional Council was established and he became a depute director of education there. He was closely involved with youth employment programmes during the troubled economic times of the 1970s and 1980s. He frequently briefed House of Lords and House of Commons select committees, having fashioned Strathclyde into the largest training provider in the UK. George was responsible for the creation of Strathclyde's youth orchestra, which developed talented musicians who are now making musical contributions at both national and international levels.

Throughout the 1980s, he oversaw the rapid modernisation of Strathclyde's further education provision, appointing a new cohort of principals while devolving full operational management and budgets directly to colleges. He also managed the introduction of the National Certificate programme.

After being passed over for the education director's job in 1988, he was back in Ayrshire, this time in charge as divisional education officer. He was remembered there as a true leader with whom the buck stopped; a man who was prepared to take decisions, support staff and accept responsibility.

After he took early retirement from the region and set up his own private training company, the Labour Party called on him one last time, when he attended a House of Commons hearing on local government re-organisation and advanced the case - ultimately unsuccessfully - for an all-Ayrshire strategic local authority, following the abolition of Strathclyde Region.

Up to the moment of his sudden death from a heart attack, George kept a close interest in educational matters, noting that the lifelong learning strategy of school and college partnerships was something he had introduced in Ayrshire during the early 1980s.

George Bain leaves behind a loving wife Rena, son Kenneth, daughter Sharon and granddaughter Cassie.

Gary Smith

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