IT'S the end of an era for Inverclyde's royal representative who is retiring after 12 years.

Guy Clark, Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, has relished every second of serving as Her Majesty's representative for the county.

The 74-year-old from Inverkip says he'll forever cherish meeting many incredible volunteers who work tirelessly across the community.

He said: "It has been a really rich tapestry and there are many threads of that tapestry that have been really enjoyable.

"They are all related to one thing and one thing only - and that is people.

"The richness is the amount of people who do so many incredible different things for absolutely no reward.

"If I have done anything at all to encourage volunteer work then I have done my job reasonably well."

Mr Clark was born in Wiltshire in March 1944 and was educated at Eton College before he was Commissioned into the Coldstream Guards where he served from 1962-1967.

During his time in the British Army, Mr Clark was an assistant - known as an 'ADC' - to three people including the Duke of Norfolk, who was in charge of the parade at Sir Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965, a day Mr Clark vividly remembers.

He said: "The rehearsal was particularly poignant because it took place at 3am through the route it was going to take in London, which included Fleet Street where I will always remember the journalists rushing out of the pubs at 3am to watch.

"On the day of the funeral, many thousands of people lined the streets from Westminster Hall to St Paul's Cathedral - it was 10-12 deep of people showing their respects.

"The soldiers had reversed arms and the drums were muffled.

"It was a cold, grey and slightly damp day.

"I was just behind the gun carriage with the Duke of Norfolk.

"The streets were calm and quiet with just the sound of the muffled drum to St Paul's Cathedral.

"The coffin was brought out of St Paul's and placed on the gun carriage which proceeded to the Pool of London where the barge The Havengore transported it to Waterloo Station and a train which departed for Bladon in Oxfordshire where he was laid to rest.

"It's so vivid, I can remember every single thing."

In 1967, after leaving the army, Mr Clark married his soulmate Brighid in South Africa, where he'd worked initially as a farm manager and then as an investment banker for six years before settling in Inverkip with his family in 1972.

Over the years he has served on the executive committee of Erskine Hospital for ex-service personnel and was a Justice of the Peace at Greenock Sheriff Court for 29 years and vice chair of the JP advisory committee for Inverclyde and West Renfrewshire for 10 years.

He said: "I became a JP in 1978 and did that until I became a Lord Lieutenant in 2007.

"It was a very interesting and rewarding time in the district court.

"It was through that experience that I learned a lot about the fabric of Greenock and the huge diversity of people and the problems that some face."

Guy is patron of the local Army Cadet Force and holds a number of other honorary positions.

He was appointed as the Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire in 2007 - following in the footsteps of his grandfather Sir Walter Guy Shaw Stewart.

Mr Clark said: "It is such a special job, as no two days are the same.

"Most people get up in the morning and have a fixed routine, something which I had when I was in the army.

"When you're Lord Lieutenant anything can crop up - from Buckingham Palace requesting details about something in relation to the royal family visiting Greenock to receiving requests for Queen's award for voluntary service.

"Another important role is celebrating 100th birthdays and Diamond Weddings and arranging the visits."

Mr Clark says he is proud that the area has the highest number of Queen's Awards for Voluntary Service - the equivalent of an MBE for voluntary groups.

Mr Clark said: "That has given me enormous pleasure, as it recognises those people who selflessly give so much time for the benefit of others with absolutely no remuneration."

One of his most treasured memories is the Queen's historic Diamond Jubilee visit to Greenock in 2012.

Mr Clark said: "I suppose the pinnacle was in 2012 - the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

"I organised Her Majesty and Prince Philip to visit the Inverclyde Municipal Buildings to open the new contact centre.

"Thousands and thousands of people turned up, which was awe inspiring."

Mr Clark says the Queen is very gracious and has a real affinity with Scotland.

He said: "The Queen is quite remarkable in the sense that at the age of 93, her memory is quite incredible.

"I have met Her Majesty a number of times and I'm always amazed at how gracious she is and how pleased she is to hear the good news of where I operate.

"She brings joy to a huge number of people and puts people at ease pretty quickly.

"She's also well ahead of anyone I know of her age in terms of information technology."

During his tenure as Lord Lieutenant, Mr Clark has organised 14 other royal visits to Inverclyde including engagements for the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.

Mr Clark says he will sorely miss being the Lord Lieutenant but wishes his successor well.

He said: "My commission comes to an end on my 75th birthday on 28th March.

"Peter McCarthy from Kilmacolm is taking over from me.

"He's a retired Colonel from the army and I'm sure he will do a splendid job."

Last year Mr Clark was awarded the Royal Victorian Order — a private honour from Her Majesty to personally thank people who have helped her directly, or represented her.

Mr Clark now plans to enjoy his retirement by spending more time with his family including Brighid and his grown up children Charles, 50, Nicola, 47, and Tom, 42, and his seven grandchildren who all live in England.