Many would not believe that I had a minister as my father a “Fire and Brimstone minister” a tee – totaller. We had a great child hood though, little money but my Dad loved sport, football and the mountains. He was a dedicated Church Of Scotland Minister dedicated to the Church and Mum brought us up all five kids.
I was more than a bit of a wild child as the Ministers son maybe it was because you got some grief which was usual for a son of the Manse! I was always playing up and getting into many scrapes. Dad was very strict and I needed it but looking back he gave me a great start to life though like many I never appreciated it at the time.. The rest of the family were well – behaved and as the youngest of the family with three sisters and one brother I was spoiled and often in trouble.
Dad and Mum gave me a love of the mountains and sport and we used to go to all of the Ayr United games home and away. Dad always wore his dog collar and this often got us into the games for free. I would vanish among the crowd and Dad and Mum would be in the stand. (Mum was always worried I would get arrested) He had a booming voice and it like me could be heard all around the ground and was a bit of a local character. The Church was his life and he worked so hard we hardly saw him. He was an old-fashioned minister who visited his people and was a true hard worker and was always there when you needed him. He was a very talented runner and won the Arthur’s Seat Race on, several occasions and Captain of the Hares and Hounds and Edinburgh University Athletics club. He was a fit man playing tennis right into his later life.
It was in the Mountains he spent his early days in the 1930’s at Loch Arkaig in the West Coast as a student Minister visiting the far-flung parishes in Glendessary and about, small Churches with great people. He was looked after by the Head Keeper Cameron Of Loch Eil who carried all the heavy Sacrament communion cups bits and pieces of gear for my Dad minister to some far-flung parishes. They would do a few Munro s after the services, he loved these days. He never forgot and always remembered Cameron and his care and loved the mountains and we had some great days out. It was in the hills that I really started to get to know my Dad and when I joined the RAF and joined the RAF Mountain Rescue he was happy and that my wildness was being tamned? We managed a few great days in our amazing Galloway Hills, The Merrick, Corserine and Back Hill of the Bush and of course Arran were spent so many holidays. We had so many great days on the Arran Ridge, Goatfell, A’Chir and the other great peaks. We all went as a family and had such holidays, huge days 12 hours at times and fish and chips on the way home. These are days I will never forget. The family holidays swapping manses in the Highlands were great fun and more big days on the mountains. He never wore any kit a jumper as his spare kit and old pair of shoes and trousers, he wore the dog collar at times to get up restricted tracks! We even met Hamish in Glencoe on the aptly named Church Door Buttress when we were having a small epic in the wet and mist.
We had a plan to go round the big Hotels in the Highlands, the Clachaig in Glencoe, Kintail Lodge and Skye and do the big hills is comfort. Sadly it was not to be for once we had a bit of money but Mum died suddenly of leukaemia and Dad took it very hard. He was never the same and he collapsed in the pulpit during Easter week Services and never really recovered he was in hospital till he died. He was all there mentally but the stroke never allowed him to get out of hospital, it was a sad time for all.
You are who you are and family makes you who you are, I was very lucky to have had such a Dad and Mum, special people who you have no clue at the time what you owe them. Money means little, love and care is far more precious, I was a wild teenager and yet they still loved me and did their best, I will never forget that.
On Father’s day and every day give Mum and Dad your love and tell them how much you care for them.