Tributes paid to Cumbernauld gymnast Ron Rodger after death at age of 90

Tributes have been paid to former gymnastics champion Ron Rodger following his death at the age of 90.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 5:36 pm
The late Ron Rodger

Initially a gymnast and later a coach, Ron, of Lennoxtown, founded Cumbernauld Gymnastics Club in 1969 while employed as manager of then-new Greenfaulds Sports Centre.

One of the proudest moments of a life not short of moments worthy of pride was being presented with a lifetime achievement award by Scottish Gymnastics in 2015 as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations.

At that time, at the age of 85, Ron, formerly a steam engine fireman and cleaner in perth, was still coaching and demonstrating how to use Indian clubs, formerly a staple of gymnastics competitions.

Ron Rodger in the gym in his eighties

He was also regularly called upon to hand out medals at gymnastic events and was given the honour of carrying a 2014 Commonwealth Games baton through Cumbernauld ahead of that event being hosted by Glasgow.

Talking to the Cumbernauld News about being picked for that role at the time, he said: “I live in Lennoxtown now, but I’m in Cumbernauld all the time and am a member of the Cumbernauld Male Voice Choir.

“I had hoped I might get a chance to carry the baton as the place means so much to me, and now I’m really looking forward to the day.

“Cumbernauld is a brilliant place and fully deserves the honour and, of course, as it is so close to where the games’ action will be happening, it has an important role to play.

“It will be something many people will remember forever and to be involved in it in some small way is a real honour.”

The grandfather of three only took up gymnastics at the age of 20 but made up for lost time afterwards, carrying on training twice a week into his eighties and claiming the title of British veteran champion three times.

Among those paying tribute to Ron is former Scottish Gymnastics director Robert Callahan, saying: “It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Ron.

“He was the last remaining member of the Scottish former gymnastics team who brought joy to our events with their Indian clubs routine.

“After a long career as a gymnast, Ron became an ever-present spectator at our national competitions after he was awarded a well-deserved honorary membership of the sport he loved.

“He was always charming the ladies with his one-liners, the most famous being ‘what’s the difference between an egg and a cuddle? You can beat an egg but you cannae beat a cuddle!’

“Ron was happy to spend the whole weekend at competitions meeting old friends and presenting medals.

“Always dressed with his blazer and honorary medal, he enjoyed every minute he was there.

“Ron was still coaching up until very recently, even trying to convert Falkirk Boys’ Club gymnasts to give Indian clubs a try.

“Ron will be missed by his family and the many members of our gymnastics community and has now joined the other former members of the Indian clubs team – Pat English, Gordon Forster and Chris Rankin in their heavenly gym in the sky.”

Lorna Whyte, formerly a Scottish squad gymnast, added: “I knew Ron for over 35 years. He was one of the most warm, friendly helpful individuals I have ever met, always such a gentleman with a super smile lighting up his whole face.”

Ron’s wife May, mother to Fiona and Brian, died in March 2016.