George lifts oars again for Hogmanay on Clyde

JUST before the Bells on Hogmanay, lifeboat officer George Parsonage will do what he has done every year for more than half a century.

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George Parsonage has been out on the river on Hogmanay for more than 50 years.Picture: Martin Shields
George Parsonage has been out on the river on Hogmanay for more than 50 years.Picture: Martin Shields

He will untie his boat which is berthed at his home on Glasgow Green and row to the centre of the River Clyde.

There he will sit in quiet contemplation of the year just gone, enjoying peace and quiet in the centre of an otherwise bustling city.

As Big Ben strikes midnight, George will sound a claxon and ring a handbell to mark the start of the New Year.

He will then row back to his home where he will be the First Foot for his family waiting inside.

Despite now being 70-years-old, George still works 365 days a year on the river he loves.

And he will carry out his Hogmanay tradition regardless of what the elements will throw at him.

George followed his father Benjamin as a lifeboat officer for Glasgow Humane Society.

He spent his first Hogmanay on the river with his dad when he was 14-years-old and has kept up the tradition ever since.

Over the years he has saved the lives of thousands of people and pulled hundreds of bodies out of the river.

George remembers one particularly dramatic Hogmanay when an elderly woman jumped into the water on the stroke of midnight as he and his father were rowing past.

He said: "She didn't want to bring in the New Year on her own and thought she would be taken to hospital if she jumped in the river.

"She waited until she saw my dad in his boat before jumping."

Since then, George has only been involved in a couple of incidents on Hogmanay and normally gets the peace he craves.

He said: "It is a beautiful, peaceful quiet on the river. Even if it is in flood, you can sit there with your thoughts and go back over the year while listening to the city.

"Floods, wind or rain - nothing stops me going out there. It is just me and the geese and ducks.

"Living on the Green, people don't often First Foot you and it can be two or three days before we see someone.

"Because of that, I take a calendar and bottle of something onto the boat so I can take it into the house as a First Foot."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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