GEORGE MEDAL HONOUR FOR SUB HERO

A FORMER Milngavie man hailed a hero for tackling a crazed gunman on a nuclear submarine is to receive the George Medal.

The honour for council chief Alistair Neill (54) is one of the highest awards for bravery that a civilian can receive.

He was visiting HMS Astute with other VIPs while it was docked in Southampton last April when able seaman Ryan Donovan ran amok with an SA80 rifle.

The rampage left Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux dead and Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hodge seriously injured.

Horrific

Donovan (23) was later jailed for life for the horrific attack.

Mr Neill, Lt Cdr Molyneux, and Southampton City Council leader Royston Smith all helped tackle Donovan.

All three men are to receive George medals, with Lt Cdr Molyneux’s being awarded posthumously.

Mr Neill, chief executive of Southampton City Council, belted Donovan as hard as he could then wrestled him to the floor and sat on him until help arrived.

Seconds before he had watched Donovan gun down Lt Cdr Molyneux.

Mr Neill was injured in the struggle but managed to hold on to the gunman.

This week, he told the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald that while receiving the award is an honour, it will be tinged with sadness because of the death of Lt Cdr Molyneux.

Mr Neill said that he could have been the one to have been killed by Donovan had the naval officer not stepped in.

He said: “I only had the opportunity to tackle Donovan because Ian Molyneux was standing next to me and he stepped one yard to the right and took a bullet to the head from this guy.

“I’ve gone over this many times that I could have been the person who was killed, but because of what Ian did, he gave me vital seconds to react. He may have lost his own life but he may have helped save many more.

“I take great pride in this honour and I’m also happy for the family of Ian Molyneux, it’s a great way for his family to remember him.”

Mr Neill and Mr Smith have been recognised in the Civilian Gallantry List.

Their medal citation reads: “Both men placed themselves at great risk by choosing to tackle someone who had shot at least two naval officers.

“By their actions they prevented further shootings and possible death or injury to others on board the submarine.”

Admiral Stanhope said: “Councillor Smith and Mr Neill showed tremendous bravery.

Gratitude

“The Royal Navy as a whole, the ship’s company of HMS Astute and their families will always owe a debt of gratitude for their actions in preventing further death or injury on that tragic day.”

The medals will be presented by The Queen at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace in the autumn, to which Mr Neill has pledged to wear his kilt.

He left Milngavie at the age of 23 to go to university and then embark on a career which saw him reach the top of the business world.

Brought up in Campbell Avenue, where his mum Wout lived until 2010, the former Milngavie Primary pupil worked in the private sector in Hong Kong and China, rising to become the chief executive of BP’s Eastern Division.

Around 10 years ago, he came back to Britain and moved into local government, becoming the head of Merther Tydfil Borough Council and then Southampton City.

Married with three children, and settled in Abergavenny, Wales, he regularly comes home to Milngavie.

He said: “It’s a wonderful place and was a great area to grow up in.

“Wherever I go, I’m an ambassador for Milngavie. I miss the precinct and I’m proud of the way the town has become like the playground for Scotland.

“The best thing that ever happened was it becoming the gateway to the West Highland Way. It really is a brilliant place.”