A GRATEFUL politician has donated two bespoke benches to the people of Neilston to thank them for the support he received during his decade-long stint as a councillor.

Paul O’Kane became a West Scotland MSP in last year’s Scottish Parliament election but continued to represent Neilston and Newton Mearns North as a councillor until the local election took place in May.

After deciding it wouldn’t be appropriate to claim a salary for both roles, the Labour man chose to donate his monthly councillor’s wage to local organisations such as the Scouts, the Guides and Neilston FC.

With the last few pay cheques, however, he wanted to do something special as a legacy for the village and to honour his family’s local roots, which can be traced back five generations.

This led to him teaming up with Matt Drennan, of the Neilston War Memorial Association, to commission the benches, which are now in place in Double Hedges Road and outside the Scout hall.

Barrhead News: A scene from an old postcard helped to inspire the design of the new benchesA scene from an old postcard helped to inspire the design of the new benches

Mr O’Kane said: “I had been approached by some people in the Holehouse end of the village who were saying there weren’t enough benches.

“There was therefore an opportunity to put in new benches that were bespoke and reflected the history of the area and that’s particularly important to me because it’s where I grew up.

“My mum and dad are still there today and it’s a really historic part of the village because you’ve got the mill workers’ cottages.

“You get walking groups there as well, with a lot of people saying it would be nice to have more benches around that area so they can have a bit of a rest.

“I’m really happy to be able to give this gift to the village.”

Barrhead News:

The new arrivals are the latest in a series of impressive benches installed in Neilston that tell the story of its past, with images of the mill and tributes to the likes of much-loved pipe major Iain MacDonald.

Mr O’Kane’s benches depict a scene from the 1900s, taken from a postcard bought by avid local historian Mr Drennan several years ago.

David Ogilvie Engineering used the scene to create a visual gem cut into hard steel.

The benches also feature a plaque which explains why they have been put in place.

Mr Drennan said: “Paul wanted to do something special for the pensioners at the Holehouse end of the village.

“The benches complete a nice theme of bespoke pieces of art.”