Last night I was at Glenmore Lodge a place I know well, how incredible it looks and it was incredible to see the place looking so well. Over the years I have spent some incredible times here. It was always a place after or during a big Call – out where we could get a cup of tea and a cake and a chat to the lovely lassies a tradition that has continued over the years. It still is full of lovely lassies and a few of the old and bold are still there who give a great welcome and just having a look round was amazing to see the incredible changes. Huge pictures, maps and all kinds of information on these great hills and so much of mountaineering history are here for all to see. The Lodge also now has a bar with great food and still many friends work here as Instructors. You can visit and eat and drink here nowadays you do not need to stay in the Lodge and the bar was busy with a few families.
I was at the Lodge to give a chat for the Mountain Rescue Conference and was met by Andy Rockall Mountain Rescues hard pressed administrator. It was a busy time with over than 100 delegates arriving from all over Scotland, many travelled long distances. The administration on arrival was superb and it all went so easy, with the girls behind the desk enjoying a bit of banter. Al Gilmour the Mountain Rescue Training Officer is running the course he is real mountain man himself who works at the Lodge is also and I got set up in the lecture theatre and then had a wander. The Conference is sponsored by the Order Of St John an incredible organisation who has done so much for Mountain Rescue. They have helped build Mountain Rescue Bases all over Scotland and provided vehicles for many years. Thing has moved on dramatically since these early days.
My blog over the last few days I speak about most of the things for last night’s talk, it may be worth a read. There are a fair few equipment exhibitors in the Foyer at the Conference many getting set up with so many items from Garmin Sat Navs, Keela clothing , Mountain Equipment, Hytera radios,Blizzard bags to stretchers and first aid kit. I had a wander round and it was soon time for my chat and after Al introduced me I was off. I hope it went well, the lecture took days to sort and I tried to cover much of the history of Mountain Rescue in the last 50 years. It is never easy but as I have written in my blog “ we follow in the footsteps of giants” In the early days of Mountain Rescue it was local climbers and keepers who went to help those in trouble on the hills,” they had little gear but big hearts” I was lucky I still knew a few of the characters about and I hope my chat opened a few eyes. Politics are never far from Mountain Rescue and there are lots going on in the Rescue world as Mountain Rescue evolve in this modern world. The Government in Scotland give over £300000 annually to Mountain Rescue and it is a big help and it is split between the 27 teams. It is a constant process of change and never easy to run a completely volunteer system which has so many strong personalities. I worked as an executive member for over 20 years and even as Chairman of the Scottish Mountain Rescue so I know of the problems that can occur. The Public is interested and loves Mountain Rescue it is a unique brand and needs to stay strong during these tricky days.
Change is never easy but also it is important to manage it and stay together, the public want to know that Mountain Rescue is in safe hands and that in all cases “the Casualty must come first” I looked around the audience and the faces many may have changed but these are still the same type of people that I learned from and loved being with. We have a huge legacy built out of the best asset we have our team members who over the years have done us proud. They are all supported by families and friends who miss us at important family times, like kid’s birthdays and family events, they are the unsung heroes, who sit and worry and wait.
After the chat it was time for a few questions in the bar and I caught up with some old pals and a few tales were told. I met a lot of new people, lots of young people with great ideas. Many said they were glad that they knew a bit more about Mountain Rescue throughout Scotland after the talk and were very interested in the lessons from the past. The future looks interesting for Mountain Rescue just now, these are challenging times but I am sure they will rise to them and ensure that Mountain Rescue goes from strength to srength!