Mountain Rescue is full of characters, they are real people that few outside their team acknowledge. This is an Obituary of Archie Roy OBE of the Lomond Mountain Rescue Team by his pal Bob Sharp. RIP Archie my condolences to his family and friends.
ARCHIE ROY OBE – 1945–2017
Archie became a member of the Lomond MRT in 1989, serving as operational member,
equipment officer and latterly trustee. I had met Archie a few years before and knew
him to be a keen mountaineer and aspirant Munroist. When the team needed extra
personnel to help with a large-scale search, I cajoled him into joining us. He seized the
invitation with immediate enthusiasm. At the time he was a senior civil servant
responsible for the UK’s Benefits Agency and some 70,000 employees! He had chosen
not to live in London but to commute from his home in Central Scotland. Mountain
rescue suddenly opened up a new dimension to his life; one which would provide
respite from his heavy workload and enormous responsibilities, regular forays into the
Scottish mountains and most important, an opportunity to help others less fortunate.
That was Archie’s style throughout his life.
Very quickly he became a key team member, and whilst not able to attend all rescues,
his wise counsel, quiet authority and canny ability to make important decisions when
most of us were flailing, ensured the team ran smoothly at times of great stress. He
played a significant role when the team faced ‘competition’ from a rogue rescue
organisation intent on taking over the team’s patch. His ability to deal effectively with
confrontation, communicate easily with senior members of national organisations and
manage publicity successfully helped the team surmount the challenge.
It was clear early on that Archie had an utterly selfless approach to the team’s work.
Typically, he was always the first to volunteer when others might back off. He involved
himself fully (and often organised) fundraising events, and when other team members
had left the post following a rescue, he would remain cleaning the vehicles and sorting
out gear. He always considered others before himself. This was epitomised on a rescue
in which he suffered a severe leg injury. Tasked to climb to the summit of Ben Lomond
to serve as a radio link, he fell through a snow bridge and suffered severe
hyperextension of his right leg. In considerable pain and in need of urgent medical
attention, he insisted that I leave him to take up the link position and that the team
continue searching for the missing girls. I reluctantly agreed and it was two hours
before he was eventually airlifted to A&E. So severe were his injuries that he was off
work for over six months. On another occasion, he revealed what a true team player
he was. Descending the Cuillin ridge we witnessed a walker fall several hundred feet
from Collies Ledge. Within seconds we located the man and proceeded to apply first
aid. There was little need to talk as we co-ordinated our efforts in harmony. Archie’s
calm approach and capacity to make clear judgements under pressure ensured the
walker received the very best treatment – and he survived!
Not content with just local matters, Archie represented the team at national meetings
in Scotland and played a key role at several UK MR Conferences. He was a key figure
with RESCUE 2020, bringing to bear his outstanding interviewing skills. As his ‘scribe’ I
marvelled at his capacity to engage people in a friendly way whilst teasing out critical
and revealing details that might otherwise have been hidden from view.
He struggled with ill health for the final four months of his life, but continued as a
trustee and also to critique my efforts at writing notes about mountain rescue. Indeed,
I suspect that everything I have written on mountain rescue over the years has
received a light touch from Archie’s wide knowledge and wisdom.
Archie Roy was one of our unsung champions. When he spoke at a meeting, everyone
listened. His wise advice was often sought and his selfless approach was a lesson for
us all. Held in great affection, one of the team’s two vehicles was named after him
when he retired from active service a couple of years ago. ‘Lomond Archie’s’ legacy
will continue for many years into the future.
Thanks Bob for this tribute.