Yesterday was a long day and I was up at 0500 for the funeral of my good pal Ian Ramsay. Ian was the local Policeman at Crainlarich who I got to know over many years. I was asked by the family to speak at the funeral in Killin I was offered a lift with Don Shanks a good pal from my days in the RAF MRT. Don was the Leuchars Team Leader we also took down Tom Taylor another old RAF MRT Leader. The forecast was awful with a big storm on its way that is why we left early. The journey down was fine but the road from the A9 to Killin was pretty wild. There was lots of flooding but we arrived in good time. We met so many old pals, Ian’s MRT Killin another 2 RAF ex team leaders and troops and another 3 from the helicopter world. There were so many there Police, MRT, SARDA, Fire and all the locals. I was told Bridge of Orchy, Crianlarich and Killin were Ghost towns so many arrived to say farewell to Ian.
I met so many keepers and old faces you meet on Rescues. Ian was a loved man. I get asked to do a wee piece at a few funerals its never easy, I nearly broke down on a few occasions. Ian would have laughed at me but there were so many folk who loved the man. His family were wonderful and even at the grave when the weather was wild there was so much love. We could see the hills breaking through an occasional glimpse, with some snow and the rivers full. The Killin Hotel was packed for a cup of tea and some food but we could not stay long the forecast was getting worse. The drive back just before the winds came was good we made good time . Don’s wife Nina had a meal for us in Forres, that was a lovely end to the day. Its hard going home after such a day but there is something special about this Mountain Rescue family. The wives and children give up so much yet they see so much as Ian’s family have done. They give so much to us all we are all so lucky. Things have moved on since my days in Mountain Rescue and its great to see the help we are given by our families and friends is now being acknowledged. Ian always was well aware of this and how important in life were his family, the good local people and the love and care of those less fortunate in society is.
Thank you Ian for keeping me right.
Big Ian Ramsay – Our friendly Policeman, Killin MRT and friend of many.
In many years of Mountain Rescue you meet so many characters. I was so lucky to meet Ian on many occasions as he was the Village “Polis” in Crainlarich. In my early days of RAF Mountain Rescue he would call us out as his house was across the road from the village Hall. In these days it would be strange to find a huge big Bobby waking you up to go on a Rescue. These were the days before mobile phones and we used the local Police to call us out.
Ian was a member of the local Killin MRT and always there on a call – out. We got to know the Police well all over Scotland in these days. There was a great bond between us and the local bobby like Ian would ease things with a few of the Senior Police Officers who found it hard to leave it to those who knew. Many call this period as the “Golden Years of SAR” and the local Police man who knew his patch and its people was so important. As young guys we would have the odd misdemeanour on our travels on the roads and occasionally with the locals and Ian would help us out. He would also give us “advice” if we missed behaved. He would often pop in for a brew to our bothies. This to many of the young RAF team who came from the cities they could not understand what a bond we had until they learned very quickly.
One winter night on Ben More in 1987 Ian and his Boss Sgt Harry Lawrie who was also the Team Leader of Killin MRT were involved in a tragic helicopter crash that killed Harry. Ian was very badly injured as was the wince man Mick Anderson. It was a miracle that the rest survived. Ian and Mick were saved that night by the actions of the Killin Team. I was there as we saw the incident happen as we were heading back to RAF Leuchars and we were asked to help. It was an awful night and it was touch and go for Ian and Mick both were in hospital with life threatening injuries for many months.
After that night and over the years I became great friends with the Killin Team and Ian became a lifelong friend. Ian bore the scars of that night all his life and later on was involved in a serious car crash that gave him a lot of more medical problems.
Ian never moaned though his body was battered and was always one I could talk to. Over the years when I became a Team Leader at RAF Leuchars Ian looked after us and kept my young Team in order. He knew what was happening in his area. We had access to the hill tracks he knew the keepers and Estates and also there was little he did not know about the hills and the characters.
Though a quiet man we would sometimes be regaled with his stories of the “Fly boys” from the cities he caught on the A82 speeding or doing other things. Also he had a firm hand if anyone was misbehaving on his patch. It was traditional policing and Ian was the master. Yet he looked after the young, the vulnerable and elderly in the area and was much loved.
Over the years I was asked to play golf with him, though I am no golfer we had some laughs. It ended up with Ian coming on our Annual Golf Trip for a five day trip all over the UK. It was in essence an Mountain Rescue Trip and Ian loved it, he loved the craic I got to know Ian well as we drove up in my car; he used to be terrified with my driving. He told us some tales over a dram about his community characters and his Mountain Rescue work. How he often had the hard job of telling a relative of the bad news after a hill accident, road crash or sudden death. He as he did things with a kindness and care that was needed.
Ian’s will not mind me saying his body took a battering over the years and despite being in great pain he never moaned. He also never blamed anyone for his accident he met the pilot and crew of the helicopter that he crashed in a difficult journey for all but it all helped with the healing.
His family were his life as was his lovely house overlooking Ben More in Crainlarich. He was dedicated to his wife Irene daughter and son Graham. When his granddaughters arrived that made his day we exchanged stories and he was so happy. I was shocked when his health deteriorated so quickly. I was so honoured we spoke a few days before he passed away he was so strong and it was a hard conversation. It is so hard for all that he is no longer with us. He was to me and others a traditional Policeman “the best of the best”,
Ian was one of a unique kind of person; he spent his life looking after others and gave so much to us all. He smiled through all his pain, told awful jokes but was one of the best men I have ever met. I have met so many folk who made a big influence in my life one was Ian he had a huge part of that. He lived his life and showed so much kindness and care throughout for so many.
My thoughts are with all the family and friends we have lost a warrior an unassuming man one of great humility and humour. He dedicated his life to helping others in the Police, in his community and in the Mountains and his family and friends.
Thank you to me and many others you will always be the Big Man with a big heart and a true pal throughout the years. We shared a lot of good times and also a lot of hard times but we had a true friendship that I and many others will never forget.
My thoughts are with Irene, Graham, Fiona her partner Kris the Granddaughter’s Laura and Eva and all Ian’s relatives and many friends.