I am away on Friday to speak to Tayside MRT and I have been looking at the the influence of certain Team Leaders on the wee lad that joined RAF Mountain Rescue. I was also lucky to have two great parents who gave that wild child a chance and in the end it ended up okay but I am always indebted to them.
My first Team Leader at RAF Kinloss was George Bruce BEM, what a man. A Billy Connelly type character before Billy Connelly was famous. He was a small PTI a tee – totaller but what a great character. He had a way with people a man manager of supreme ability and had a way with people that was incredible. He knew the hills and even more the Keepers and Ghillies and this was before “Freedom to Roam” in the Scottish Hills. He made a point of knowing all of them and getting great access to the hills and tracks in most Estates. After or before a day on the hill we would pop in and speak to the keepers and be mostly welcome. He made great contacts with the local teams and Police where he was so well thought off. He was always sharing teas or a dram and getting the latest gossip an old rope may be exchanged for some venison or we may help move some stuff that needed man power. This allowed us a unique access to estates like Ben Alder, Lochnagar, Skye at Glenbrittle and many others. He looked after me and let me join the team despite being a skinny wee lad. He ran the team with ease, everyone had a place and was valued he taught me that we all were part of the team and that we all had talents to be used. These skills were to be of great use throughout my mountaineering life and George was a great help as I progressed to being a Team Leader and he was always there for advice and his sense of humour was magnificent. I owe him so much and when he passed away a few years ago I was given the greatest honour of being a pall – bearer at his funeral.
After George I was away in the desert with Desert Rescue in Masirah in the Persian Gulf. I returned to a new Team Leader Pete McGowan. You could not get two different Leaders, Pete was all action and it was a small team I arrive to. There was a huge emphases on climbing and everyone in the team had to climb, summer and winter. You may think this is not unusual but in the past a lot of the team were Munro baggers and few climbed.