I am the bearer of more sad news. “The Kerr” – Kerr McIntosh has passed away. He was my officer in charge at RAF Kinloss. In these days being an officer in charge of a RAF Mountain Rescue Team was not an easy task. It was one that few volunteered for and Kerr McIntosh was one of the few who did. He was ideal as he was a mountaineer and as man there have been few like him.
I first met him I think in the very early 70’s he was the same rank as me then a lowly SAC at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire. We had a great time then we were daft, young and had no responsibilities we used to get into all sorts of trouble. We ran about with the same crowd and lived life to the full.
I was in the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team then and did not meet Kerr again till many years later it was just as I had moved as Team Leader at RAF Kinloss in late 1989. Kerr had by then become an officer but was still a great pal. He had joined the team as a troop and then as Officer i/c in these days we had a say in who would be our officer on the team.
On the hill he was a normal troop but outside on the camp an officer that was a hard line to keep everyone happy including his bosses. He should have been in the diplomatic core. Kerr was great friend I had calmed down (not) we had some incredible characters on the team. Kerr knew everyone he was one of them; it was a difficult team to manage, yet these were good folk. On the hill was one of the team he loved the hills, the troops and they loved him. This is not easy to achieve that balance, few did. He was part of their escapades, their climbing, socially yet he looked after them and their families if any got into trouble or needed advice. Respect in a mountain Rescue Team is earned not by rank but by what you do on the team in the mountains and how you treat the folk. Here he excelled. Yet he did lots for the team personally always helping the families and troops with the problems that can happen in service life. Everyone mattered, no problem was too trivial and he helped so many, this was a part of Kerr that few knew.
On several occasions he put his career on hold for us supporting me on several occasions as I upset the world. These were crazy days as we went from call out to call out across Scotland. For many of the team they would get a hard time for being way from their Line managers on their primary jobs and even more important their families. Kerr would sort out with the Bosses, chat to the wife’s and girlfriends and tell them what the team were doing. Once we were away without a break for 8 days dealing with so many tragedies. He helped make the station appreciate what we were about.
To me as the Team Leader he was a great friend he helped me a lot in a hard ob and kept me right at times with my battles with those in authority. He advised me when to wind it in and when to go for it. He also worked in Personal Services Flight mixing with Station hierarchy and here he helped and solved problems for the team. He also fought to get the simple things that folk take for granted. These were like good Base Camps with basic things like showers and an electricity allowance to dry gear. Simple things, he had a way of getting things done.
On the Shackleton Crash in Harris in 1990 we moved into an Hotel after the hard task of removing the fatalities from the crash site. We needed that time to shower and clean our gear especially after a traumatic experience. Kerr sorted it out and what a difference that made for all involved. That became policy whenever possible after a bad air crash and it was accepted that the team would be put in decent accommodation. This was long overdue.
He loved the climbing the walking the adventures with the troops, the nights in the pubs with the locals. We had some bold climbers about and Kerr would get out with them and he loved the hills. He would come back wide eyed and he told me these were the best years of his life. He went to the Alps had his eyes opened even further and enjoyed getting away and pushing himself. He loved winter climbing and he and a few of the like his pal Martin Mc Dermott pushed the climbing and gave me a few more grey hairs. I would wait for them coming of a route to ensure they were heading home. He did a new winter line in one of the remote Corries and the troops called it Redcoats Weep. He was so proud of it and the name.
Socially he was some man his Highland accent was well received all over Scotland and he was at times the life and soul of many Highland nights. As a local from the Black Isle he had lots of contacts in the area and the twang of a local. This was also so handy all over Scotland as he knew so many contacts. We got to know locals well and Kerr would be there if we attended a funeral of a Hall keeper or local that had helped us. These were the things that few noticed.
As time moved on in the military we went separate ways. Kerr ended up at Cranwell training officer recruits. He would laugh at me saying training future “Redcoats” I am sure he did a good job and talked sense to the new recruits from his vast experience. He was a people person in every way and I am sure he passed on his gems of dealing with the troops that made the Service work. He said that the tour at Kinloss gave him huge life experiences that he never forgot.
We met a few years ago as I was coming of the Cairngorms alone he was the same. He told me he was not well but said it was great to be back out on the hills. We had a good craic and then promised to stay in touch. Kerr though outgoing was a private man and this is how he dealt with his illness, just him and his family. That was a few years ago.
Sadly I heard that Kerr had passed away yesterday after a long illness. My thoughts are as always with his wife Cathy his daughters Jenny and Susie and all the family and his many friends. I will pass on funeral details when I get them.
There are not many like “The Kerr” A good Officer, man and friend of many.
“Kerr one of the troops”
Heavy Whalley 21 Jan 2020