A WELL-known former Gourock art teacher who set up a successful Inverclyde theatre company has released the second volume of his memoir due to popular demand.

Don McNeil unveiled the first volume of his life story, 'The Path Less Trodden - A Man and His Art', back in March. 

The book was so well-received that Don has decided to publish a follow up - 'The Path Less Trodden (Again)'.

Don's initial draft of the book amassed around 75,000 words so he had to cut it into two parts. 

Both books were therefore completed within a couple of weeks of each other but Don decided to wait a few months before releasing the follow-up. 

'The Path Less Trodden (Again)' focuses on Don's time with Oracle Theatre of Youth and the impact the drama group had on Inverclyde. 

Greenock Telegraph:

He also writes about his marriage to his wife Jean and how art has played a huge part in their lives over the years. 

Don, 83, said he's thrilled to see the book on the shelves. 

He added: "I have so much to say about my life.

"When I had to get first book down to 11,000 words, there was so much important stuff that I had to leave out. 

"I knew that I really needed another one to tell the full story."

Don was principal teacher of art at Gourock High School for 23 years and in his time there, he helped set up Oracle Theatre of Youth in 1976. 

Alongside Carol Leith and Hugh Harris, Don produced Oracle musicals including The Sound of Music, The King and I, Camelot, Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. 

Their first production was Calamity Jane at Greenock Arts Guild and the company even took their own version of Grease to the Edinburgh Fringe in 1980.

Don said the theatre group was the springboard for a lot of talented young people from Inverclyde. 

He added: "We appeared at just the right time.

"We were able to do things that were just a wee bit different. 

"Gourock High was a four-year school and pupils didn't get the chance to do any shows until they were in their final years at Greenock Academy. 

"Setting up Oracle helped us give all of the pupils a chance."

When Don was signing his first book at an in-store event earlier this year, he was thrilled when some former Oracle members popped along. 

Born in Carnoustie in 1940, Don and his family moved to Dunfermline, to Dumfries and the Isle of Bute.

His mother, Jean Hastings, was a renowned soprano in the 1930s, and his father was a minister.

In 1995, Don took early retirement after 30 years of teaching, and he and his wife still produce paintings to this day. 

READ MORE: Ex-teacher and artist pens 'warts and all' life story at 82

He said some of the new book looks at his life with Jean and some of the challenges they've faced. 

Don added: "We lived in the clearance village of Newton near to the shores of Loch Fyne. 

"It was a really quiet village and people didn't like us bringing people in to see our paintings."

The former teacher said he hopes his book, produced with help from Tim Saunders at Creative Coverage, will show how he's spent his life doing things 'outside the box'. 

Don added: "One of the reviews of the first book said I was a 'maverick of our time'. 

"Even when I was teaching I broke boundaries."

Don will be signing copies of 'A Path Less Trodden (Again)' at Bookpoint in Dunoon on August 19 from 4.30pm