MORTON'S community trust scored a winner with the deputy first minister who says the organisation is top of the league.

John Swinney visited Cappielow to find out more about the work of the Ton's charitable arm and declared himself impressed with the set-up and its success.

Mr Swinney was in town in his other role as education secretary and was full of praise for the work of the organisation.

He met with Greenock Morton Community Trust chief executive, Brian McLaughlin, and Ton chief exec David MacKinnon.

Inverclyde's MP Ronnie Cowan, MSP Stuart McMillan and local councillor Jim McEleny were also in attendance.

Mr Swinney said: "I've been looking at the different ways in which organisations can support our wider work in education.

"I was interested to see what Greenock Morton have taken forward, to essentially use the role of the football club to reach individuals and engage them in different aspects of educational development.

"What I heard from the community trust is that it's not just education that the trust is involved in - it's health projects, employability projects and essentially the goodwill and attraction of the football club is used as a means to engage individuals and as a consequence to make sure they go on to good outcomes. "It's been fascinating to see how the club is using its unique role within the community for the maximum benefit of the people of Greenock and Inverclyde."

The trust works with children as young as two through to people in their 70s and 80s in a wide range of events and activities, from youth coaching and girls teams to the 'football memories' project in conjunction with Alzheimer Scotland.

Mr Swinney said: "What's clear to me is Greenock Morton is not just a football club and, with the work of the community trust, it's reaching out very much into the whole community and as a consequence having a profound impact on the health of local residents, educational opportunities, employability and in making sure the club and community trust maximises the effect of its role in the local community."

Trust chief executive, Mr McLaughlin, says the praise from Mr Swinney is encouraging for his team, who put so much time and effort into the various projects they run.

He said: "To get this recognition from the deputy first minister is very pleasing because we put a lot of hard work into what we do in the area and we will continue to do that.

"It's good to show the positive impact we are having on people."