Page 224 - MBS 2022/23
P. 224

  The North East Branch Annual Reunion weekend is always a special occasion but this year’s gathering held extra special significance as our Guest of Honour was Ex SSgt (SSI) George Bleasby who was attending his very first Branch Dinner just 5 weeks ahead of his 100th birthday. It was my pleasure to welcome George to our North East Branch Family gathering along with three of his lovely daughters Pauline Barton, Jenny Sherman and Julie Reay. I was delighted to introduce George and his daughters before the Dinner got underway and then took everyone by surprise when I announced that George would perform his Indian Club Swinging routine lasting over one and a half minutes. It was an incredible demonstration of strength, skill, dexterity and coordination which would have challenged most people present, let alone this soon to be centenarian. It would be an understatement to say that the performance brought the house down and George instantly achieved celebrity status within our Branch. There was a constant queue of people waiting to speak to him all evening and even at breakfast the next day.
George was born in Hull and after leaving school aged 14 he worked in an office, attending night school and also working voluntarily for the Civil Defence as a messenger between 1939 and 1942. In September 1942 at the age of 19 he was called up to join the Army and was posted to the Seaforth Highlanders in Fort George Scotland. After just a few weeks at Fort George he successfully applied to be an Assistant Instructor in the Regimental Gymnasium and soon afterwards he attended a 3-week PT Course in Edinburgh. In 1943 the Companies moved from Fort George to Elgin and it was here that George met CSMI George Welch APTC who had been one of his colleagues when they were both corporals together. Ultimately, the two Georges became close
SSgt (SSI) George Bleasby APTC – 1946
George Bleasby with Lt Col (SMAA) Jason Hughes RAPTC at the North East Branch Reunion Dinner 2023
Dave Smith - Secretary RAPTC Association North East Branch
 friends and kept in touch through the years until sadly George Welch passed away. In 1945 George was given the opportunity to go to the ASPT Aldershot to attend an Advanced PT Course. He recalls there was a Captain (Leslie) Lambert there at the time and after successfully completing his transfer course, George proudly received his Corps badge and stripes from Brigadier Wheeler on 23rd December 1945.
George’s first Corps posting was to Ballymena in Northern Ireland, after which he had various subsequent minor postings, the main one being to Palace Barracks, Hollywood with two gymnasiums. Whilst there he was promoted to the rank of S/Sgt (SSI). One member of the staff then was L/Cpl Eric Cleaver of the Royal Hampshire Regiment who of course later went on to serve with the APTC and attain the rank of Lt Colonel. George’s last posting was to Ballykinlar and from there numerous PT and gymnastic demonstrations were carried out around the local area. When the Physical Training Officer suggested that he should sign on for continued service in the regular army, the likelihood of further promotion and opportunities to see the world in peacetime was quite attractive, but the pull of family and home was too strong for George and he made the decision to follow his heart and leave the Army.
George Bleasby and family with his 100th Birthday Card from the King and Queen Consort
As part of the demobilisation process, soldiers were given the opportunity to attend an education course of their choice. George decided to go to Dalkeith in Scotland and brush up on his accountancy skills. On the very first evening in the Sergeants Mess, he had the good fortune to meet his future wife Mary and in 1949, two years after demobilisation, Mary and he were married. At the time of their marriage, Mary and George decided they would like to have four children. As it transpired, the fourth birth was triplets (all girls) which gave them more than enough work to keep them busy, but happily so. Ultimately they were blessed with five daughters and one son. Sadly, dear Mary passed away when she was 63 but George has found great support in the years since then from his close and loving family. George’s connection with the RAPTC Association has been rather fragile primarily because of family ties, community commitments and, in more recent years, some mobility issues. He also thinks it does not help that he has never played golf! However, he does enjoy receiving information circulated by the North East Branch on Corps events and matters and the periodic telephone calls and emails from the Branch Committee to keep in personal touch. George has always been actively involved with his local community having rung the bells for several church services in the UK and around the World over the last 30 years, whilst also playing the organ for his local Methodist Church.
Speaking to George after the Reunion he told me that he had enjoyed every minute in the company of likeminded people, that he was already looking forward to next year and that he will continue to swing the clubs in preparation for the 2024 Reunion Dinner. George is a quite remarkable man and the absolute epitome of a healthy mind in a healthy body. Mens Sana in Corpore Sano.

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