George Parsonage

2022 - "A life on the river and what it means to be human"

George “The River Man” Parsonage, 79, has spent most of his life on Glasgow’s River Clyde, following in father’s footsteps as the leader of Glasgow’s Humane Society, the oldest continuing lifeboat service in the world. For forty years, George and his family have pulled 1,000s from the Clyde, saving countless lives.

“Most family businesses are about making money. We’re not. We’re here to help people. I was born in the house upstairs from where I’m sitting now next to the river. Helping people at the river… it’s just something that we do. I don’t know what else we’d do, you just get on with it.”

But this wasn’t always George’s destiny, a trained sculptor, he studied art at Glasgow’s School of Art, completing a 5 year course in 1967. “when your father is the lifeboat man running in and out of the house doing work on the river, it’s automatic that the son goes and helps him… when father died, I had my mother in a wheelchair and my sister in this house – we had nothing – I knew I had to take over the job and do it.”

George will be joining us this at OffGrid, talking with his usual candour, good humour and pragmatism about his work, his art (which he continues to make) and a life spent on the river.