Final farewell for Glasgow shipyard leader Jimmy Reid

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Leading figures from politics, sport and entertainment have joined hundreds of mourners for the funeral of former Scottish trade union leader Jimmy Reid.

The 78-year-old died last week after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Billy Connolly joined family and friends at Govan Old Parish Church in Glasgow for the celebration of Mr Reid's life.

The gathering followed a ceremony on the Isle of Bute, where Mr Reid lived out his final years.

About 100 people attended the service at the United Church of Bute, with a further 50 lining the pier as the funeral cortege boarded a ferry to the mainland.

The cortege later travelled, under police escort, to Glasgow where workers at Govan shipyard lined part of the road.

Mr Reid's coffin, with roses on top, was carried into the church led by a piper. Flowers spelt the words "papa" and "dad" in the hearse.

During the service at Govan Old Parish Church, broadcast via loudspeaker to members of the public outside, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson remembered a man whose "mantra in life" was helping other people.

He recalled how as a young boy, Jimmy Reid did not play football but was often seen with books under his arm.

"Our education was football, his education was the Govan Library - he was never out of there," he said.

"That education gave him an intellect far beyond what we ever thought we could achieve."

Sir Alex told the congregation how Reid, who became a fervent supporter of the Scottish national team, "was seen in the Hampden tea room telling Denis Law, our greatest ever player, how he scored his goals".

He said: "I can see him, his eyes on Denis, trapped in a corner, can't move, and Denis says: 'the best man-marking job he's ever had'."

The Manchester United manager said that throughout the progress of his life, Jimmy Reid "proved what he really was about".

"Helping the underprivileged, helping people who'd lost their jobs and their dignity, that was his mantra in life - it never changed," he said.

Waxing lyrical

Comedian Billy Connolly, a former shipyard welder, had much of the congregation in fits of laughter as he recounted several anecdotes about his earlier life in the area.

He recalled enjoying "many happy hours just hangin' aboot, smokin', drinkin', talkin' nonsense and listening to Jimmy waxing lyrical and being profound".

He said he would miss his friend "terribly" and recalled his innate sense of fairness and intellect.

The comedian said: "He put things simply, complex things, that just knocked me back three steps.

"I remember him saying that if you look at these housing estates and high-rise flats - look at all the windows.

"Behind every one of these windows is somebody who might be a horse-jumping champion, a formula one racing champion, a yachtsman of great degree, but he'll never know because he'll never step on a yacht or formula one car - he'll never get the chance."

Image caption,
Mr Reid thwarted government attempts to close the Clyde yards

Connolly said those words still haunted him to this day.

Born in Govan, Mr Reid rose to international prominence when he led the famous "work-in" of thousands of shipbuilders on the Clyde during 1971 and 1972, thwarting government attempts to close the yards.

A speech he made to students as rector of Glasgow University on "rejecting the rat race" in 1971 appeared in full in the New York Times.

During his funeral oration, First Minister Alex Salmond made a commitment to make Reid's famous 'rectorial address' available to every Scottish secondary pupil.

The Scottish government later confirmed that a new section on the Learning Teaching Scotland educational website will host the 1972 address.

Other material on Jimmy Reid will be promoted to teachers of History and Modern Studies as being of great importance in understanding modern Scotland.

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