SALTCOATS and Stevenston councillor Jim Montgomerie says he is “incredibly proud” of his new role after being appointed North Ayrshire’s Veterans’ Champion.

Cllr Montgomerie has a lifelong affiliation with the armed forces and has vowed to be a dedicated advocate for former servicemen and women.

“It’s a cause very close to my heart,” he said, “and I pledge to do everything in my power to help veterans and pursue issues on their behalf.

“I have been a huge supporter of the armed forces from a very early age, with members of my family serving.”

Indeed, two of Cllr Montgomerie’s great uncles – brothers Hugh and William Montgomerie - are commemorated on Saltcoats War Memorial for their sacrifice during the Second World War.

The 100th anniversary of the war memorial’s unveiling in 1922 was held in May in a special ceremony organised by Cllr Montgomerie.

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He added: “The war memorial means a lot to me personally with William and Hugh remembered there.

“I was humbled to organise and speak at the 100th anniversary and very proud of the work we have done to maintain the memorial so that we can continue to cherish the memories of those who gave their lives for us.”

Councillor Montgomerie’s own father was called up for National Service and his closest friend, Gordon Currie, spent more than two decades in the forces.

He added: “Both myself and Gordon went to Glasgow for information on signing up for the armed forces. He went to the army and I went in to the navy to join the marines.

“He signed up and ended up serving 24 years in the army, doing tours of Iraq.”

Councillor Montgomerie’s burgeoning boxing career put an end to his ambition to join the marines.

He added: “I’ve been very fortunate to have a long connection with the forces and I have been a member of the British Legion for many years. Although I never served, they have welcomed me with open arms.

"Through my role as Veterans’ Champion, I hope to repay the kindness they have shown me.”