A TEACHER who inspired generations of young people at a Gourock school has died at the age of 84.

Hugh Kane was principal biology teacher at St Columba's High at Bayhill for 20 years.

Hugh, who had moved into the town when the school opened, quickly became a much respected member of the wider community.

The grandfather was a member of both Gourock Bowling Club and Fort Matilda Bridge Club.

His daughter Frances Taylor said: "Throughout his teaching years, dad was much loved by his pupils - in fact, he even received a Valentine from one class.

"He treated them all equally and sympathetically with no distinctions made for social class or ability, academic or otherwise.

"He forged lasting friendships with staff members too, many of whom in the close-knit community of Gourock/Greenock played a part in his later years."

Little did his pupils know that their teacher could have played in the top tier of Scottish football instead of forging a career in the classroom.

Hugh was brought up in Springburn and educated at St Aloysius Primary School then St Mungo's Academy.

In his youth he showed promise to be a professional footballer and was almost signed by Rangers.

He captained the the Glasgow Schools Team in a match at Ibrox in 1954 and on the programme his school was mistakenly listed as King's Park.

A contract offer was rescinded when he went along with his father George and they discovered that he'd been a Celtic season ticket holder for 40 years.

Hugh was also offered trials with Celtic but by then was in the middle of his botany and zoology degree at Glasgow University.

His degree was interrupted by his National Service between 1958 and 1961.

Hugh was in the RAF first at Bridgnorth near Wolverhampton, serving as a radar and wireless fitter and operator.

On returning home he became an uncertified teacher of science and married his wife Margaret in 1964.

He returned to university to complete his degree and went on to graduate with honours in 1969.

Blessed with three children, Hugh and Margaret moved to Gourock in 1971 when the new St Columba's was built to accommodate the rising roll from the baby boom years.

Frances has happy memories of growing up in Trumpethill, along with brother Martin and sister Elizabeth.

She said: "The school roll was twice what it is now.

"Teachers were offered subsidised housing in Trumpethill to attract them to Gourock because a larger number of staff was needed too.

"We knew everyone in the whole estate when we were growing up."

Sadly Hugh was forced to retire due to ill health in 1991 but he never forgot his pupils and all the happy years he spent at St Columba's.

Frances said: "Everywhere he went in Gourock and Greenock through the years he met grateful ex-pupils who remembered him with affection and, until recently, he remembered all their names and those of their relations."

Hugh's other passion was bowling and this intensified when the family moved to Barhill Road, opposite the bowling green.

Frances said: "When the phone rang or a pot went on fire we ran over to the clubhouse for dad.

"He was very proud of his Scottish Bowling Coach qualifications."

Hugh also enjoyed music and singing and joined the Toad Choir under the late Ian McCrorie MBE.

Frances said: "He was well known for his party serenades and his lullabies and we recorded these for his funeral."

Hugh leaves Margaret, his three children and four adored grandchildren - Madeleine, Samuel, Phoebe and Alexandra.

He was also a much-loved father in law to Douglas and the late Philip.

Frances paid tribute to her dad, his generosity and selflessness.

She told the Telegraph: "He didn't have much quality of life in lockdown but he still wanted to squeeze every drop he could out of his time on earth and never missed an opportunity for social interaction with anyone at all and he would want us to do the same."