A CARING Greenock man who has been spreading kindness and cheer for 50 years has been nominated in the Tele’s Community Champion Awards.

James McKechnie, a stalwart of the Salvation Army, has tirelessly travelled across the River Clyde every week to collect funds and distribute The War Cry magazine in Dunoon.

The 81-year-old goes over every Friday morning to stand at his pitch.

James, who lives with his second wife Flora in Heron Road, said: “I will be there until they blow the final bugle!

“I’m only 81. I get a lot out of it. I enjoy doing it and the people are nice.”

James, who helped out in the aftermath of the Lockerbie disaster in his role with the Salvation Army, also calls in at a local care home and visits the ill in hospital.

A former shipyard worker, he joined the Salvation Army after his church Ladyburn Parish closed.

He said: “I visited the pubs from Ladyburn down to the Charing Cross area selling the War Cry.”

But then he was asked to cover the Dunoon area and has been the face of the Salvation Army there ever since.

James has been nominated as a community champion by his friend Robert McChlery, who said: “When I knew him first, about 25 years ago, it was when he would come over and circulate the good word.

“He was welcomed wherever he went, and if he missed a week or so, there were always questions asked, even when he was at the Lockerbie disaster doing his Salvationist work.”

The pair become firm friends after James’ sailing to Greenock was once cancelled due to bad weather and Robert found him sheltering in his car.

He offered him a bed for the night and James now visits Robert and his wife for soup and a sandwich every week.

James has a daughter, Caroline, from his first marriage to his late wife Jean, and has two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He remarried after meeting up with his old school sweetheart Flora, also a Salvationist, who had lost her husband.

Robert said: “He was volunteered to come to Dunoon to collect funds from the local pubs 50 years ago and we still cannot get rid of him!

“Not that we would really want to — he is a well-kent figure and would be missed if he ever decided to retire. “Long live James.”

Robert’s wife Peverley added: “He has a lovely word for everyone and everyone in Dunoon knows him.

“He doesn’t like blowing his own trumpet, he’s just ‘our Jimmy’ and I think he deserves a bit of recognition.”

There is still time for Tele readers to put forward their own local heroes.

Log on to www.newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/greenockcommchamp/ before the April 24 deadline.