Tom Weir

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Tom Weir was small of stature but his death last week, aged 91, cast an enormous shadow across his beloved Scotland. He was held in the highest regard by all his fellow Scots. His books, monthly articles for more than 50 years in the Scots magazine and his programmes on Scottish Television ensured that the byornar Springburn-born climber, environmentalist, author, broadcaster and Nationalist was known to every Scottish household. Scottish National Party Leader Alex Salmond MP well summed up the Nation’s feeling of loss –

“He will be sadly missed throughout Scotland not only by country lovers but all Scots. My thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Tom Weir was the first-ever recipient of the Oliver Brown Award, presented annually by the Scots Independent, in 1983. I had the honour of being one of the three judges on that occasion, along with SI Editor Colin Bell and Professor Gavin Kennedy. All afternoon, over a refreshment or two, we debated the merits of the strong list of nominations for the initial award but always came back to the same name – Tom Weir. He set the bench-mark for the high standard of all those who followed in his footsteps as Oliver winners.

He was an inspiration to us all. He loved all aspects of our country, but particularly the hills, glens, lochs and wildlife of Scotland. Through his writing, television programmes, slide-shows and talks, he passed that love for and delight in Scotland to his fellows. He would finish his talks with a plea for an Independent Scotland in order to protect the future of the scenes he had shown and described.

He was the best of Scots and represented all that is good in our Nation. He spread enlightenment and joy wherever he went and will live on in our memories.

In his will Tom Weir left over £2,000 to Friends of Loch Lomond and £5,000 to the John Muir Trust – two causes close to his heart. In 2000, he was the first recipient of the John Muir Trust’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his environmental work.  The Trust Chief Executive Nigel Hawkins said that the bequest would be used to preserve areas close to Tom Weir’s heart.

He further said:

“It is a wonderful gesture from Tom and is greatly appreciated.  He was a great supporter of the Trust’s work and a great man of the mountains.  Tom was loved by all hill walkers and was held in the highest regard.  The bequest will be put towards something Tom loved, namely the grand mountains of Scotland.”

The John Muir Trust is regarded as one of Scotland’s leading guardians of wild land and wild life.