A few days ago I was told by a good friend that Jimmy Simpson had passed away after a long illness.
From the Retired Police Officers’ Association Scotland H & I Branch
“regret to inform you of the death of Retired Police Constable James (“Jimmy The Dog”) SIMPSON of Boat of Garten, (63). at Highland Hospice, Inverness on Tuesday 23rd December after a long period of ill health.
Jimmy joined the Inverness Constabulary in September 1973, and subsequently served at various locations in the Northern Constabulary area. He served with distinction for many years in the Force Dog Section, based in Badenoch. He retired in September 2003 after 30 years’ service.Jimmy is survived by his wife Ann. Funeral arrangements are at the end of this article.
I knew Jimmy for many years over 30 , he was a true Highland Policeman and was also a key man for many years in the local Cairngorm Team and SARDA Search & Rescue Dog Association (Scotland) Most of Jimmy’s rescues were in his local area the Cairngorms and Jimmy and his huge Police Dogs were a common sight on the hill. There is the incredible story of him and his huge dog Rocky that was blown over the Cornice on Corrie An’t Sneachda in the Cairngorms. Poor Rocky was blown of the plateau on the search for a two missing climbers. Rocky was located next day by Jimmy after a terrible night on the hill, Jimmy and his mate Malcolm had no fear that Rocky would survive and when we met them after finding this massive dog unharmed but covered in ice was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. John Allen tells the tale in his book “Cairngorm John”. Like the RAF Teams he also lead a nomadic rescue life as he accompanied most of the Mountain Rescue Teams on Rescues all over the Highlands as he was a key member of SARDA Scotland for many years. SARDA often especially in the early days were man and dog against the elements, they mainly worked outside their own local area and hills and work alone most of the time. This could involve huge searches at times in Corries and Glen’s with big avalanche risks in winter that few outsiders would have local knowledge of.. In these early days communications were poor and SARDA were often the last off the hill on a call –out. As a Highland Policeman Jimmy wore two hats but always looked after us in RAF Mountain Rescue so well. He would tell us tales after call –outs of his work in the Police and the wilder places in the Highlands on a Saturday night. He was as hard as the granite of the Cairngorms where many of his call –outs were and on the mountains and looked after me on more than a few occasions. There were many times in the big long rescues and searches that Jimmy and other SARDA Handlers regularly stayed overnight with the RAF Teams all over Scotland in the local Village Halls. Jimmy would always ensure that we could always get a late drink in the local bar or Hotel after some epic on the hill. From the Ben, Glencoe, The Cairngorms, Killin, Lochnagar, Skye and West Coast I have everlasting memories of this great character and his “War Dogs” Police Dogs what a man indeed.
My memory is of a search of and him arriving back to report his search area long after the search was called off as the casualty had been found and all the teams had gone. His radio had gone down in the weather and he had continued searching with his massive Police dog. I was waiting at the control and a bit worried what he would say but as always he smiled and laughed with that big grin, we had a brew with him then he left for home.
He also helped me on a few training scenarios we had with potential new Team Leaders Jimmy would play the stroppy “Polis” on an Exercise, terrifying the students when they got a bit too Controlling. He could turn into a real Policeman so quickly but it was always with a smile at the end.
Jimmy and I have a few other tales one when he saved my career after Lockerbie in Kingussie that awful Christmas. He was always a visitor to our bothies in the Cairngorms when working and at times scaring the young troops to death, when he arrived with his huge dog. It would be a mug of tea and maybe a tale or two with the young troops listening. These were as many would say the “Golden Years of SAR” and Jimmy was an unsung hero and a huge part of it. He was a big part of how the Police and SAR Teams can work together and how friendship’s that survive in the mountain’s especially on Rescues last for ever.
It is a sad day that Jimmy has gone and my condolences to Jimmy’s family and friends.
I have been sent the details of Jimmy Simpson’s – Funeral details are: Boat of Garten church on 31st December 2014 at 12 pm then to Lagganty -gowan cemetery. All friends respectfully invited. Family flowers only and all donations to the Highland Hospice.