In my time in Mountain Rescue we relied so much the local village Policeman he was the person to get to know. They were the person in the know.
When we arrived in villages all over Scotland on our weekend training they were our contact for Rescues. These were the days before mobile phones and good communications . Often the local Bobby would be the point of contact and arrive in the wee small hours in the village hall. He would pass us the information and tell us to contact our Control the Rescue Centre. When we were training in the area we would phone ahead and tell them the Base usually the village Hall and got to know them well.
It may be a call – out a long way away and we would have to get moving for an early morning start moving our Base. Often we would be driving hours to get to Fort William, Glencoe, Aviemore,Skye or the far North.
We built up many contacts with the local “Polis” and many became friends and helped us out on so many occasions. Often friendly advice was given and taken when the team were out socially? The local Policeman knew every one the landowners keepers etc and was a great help.
Such a man was Tom Gibbon who we lost a few weeks ago. These are some of the words that have been written about Tom.
“The 66 year-old served as a rural community officer in the village and was one of a team of four officers providing 24-hour on-call policing from Strathyre to Tyndrum. He served with the police for 32 years.
More than once he would have to book someone as a police officer, but he would go out of their way to try and help them and they ended up buying him a pint.”
As a police officer he was involved in a number of high profile cases, including being drafted in to assist the investigations following the Lockerbie disaster and Dunblane tragedy. His first mountain rescue came in 1979 when he was called to assist walkers stranded on Ben More. Tom battled waist deep snow drifts and assisted in the recovery of the casualties.
In 1987, a Wessex helicopter crashed on Ben More killing team coordinator Sgt Harry Lawrie who was the local Police Sergeant and injuring another team member and one of the air crew. Tom was in the first group of eight members already on the hill and played a vital role conducting the rescue effort, ensuring survivors were recovered from the wreckage and evacuated. (I was at RAF Leuchars during this time and got to know Tom and the Killin Team well.)
He was one mountain rescue shy of 300 when he retired.
His close friend and former colleague Bill Rose, who is a former Inspector at Callander police office and Killin MRT team member, worked with Tom for 23 years. He said:
“Tom was very much respected and an integral part and good friend to the community. Always on hand to assist local people when required. A traditional police officer, his door was always open and often a word of advice from Tom was all that was required to resolve a situation.
“Tom commanded great respect from all who worked with him in his role of co-ordinating search and rescue for Killin MRT.“He was instrumental in recruiting a strong nucleus of members who lived in Lochearnhead and Balquhidder who provided a wealth of local hill knowledge.”
Earlier this year, Tom published a book, titled ‘He Wore Two Hats’, a collection of stories from his time with the police and mountain rescue”
Thanks for all you did for so many, Tom my thoughts are with the family and friends .