It was a wonderful drive down to Stirling to give the evening talk on my experiences incidents and it’s long term effect. The Scottish Mountain Rescue were running a weekend at Stirling University. What a location and a stunning campus. The news is awful just now with the Ukraine war becoming a fight for survival. I did not have the radio on all the journey. Instead I had plenty of stops. It was wonderful to see the peaks snow covered and the weather excellent. It is always the same when I go to talk the weather is stunning. I sto
I stopped off the motorway to visit the Battle site of Sherrifmuir I place I had always wanted to see. It’s off the motorway near Stirling and the quiet roads had a lot of cyclists I was envious. The battlefield is not well marked but a huge cairn is by the side of the road. I love Scottish history and have always wanted to see this place. There are many trees planted now but a great path to the “ Gathering stone “ Here you find the Gathering Stone, a fallen standing stone protected by iron hoops. This is said to have been the place where the Jacobite standard was placed at the start of the battle, and where some of the approximately 600 men killed in the battle were buried.
I had a wander round and could see where this battle occurred. Nobody won that battle but it put a stop to the 1715 rebellion. It was relevant to visit yesterday in the wake of what’s happening in Ukraine !
Will ye go to Sheriffmuir,
Bauld John o Innisture?
There to see the noble Mar,
And his Heiland laddies.
A’ the true men o the north,
Angus, Huntly and Seaforth,
Scouring on tae cross the Forth,
Wi their white cock-a-dies.
There you’ll see the banners flare,
There you’ll hear the bagpipes rare,
And the trumpets deadly blare,
Wi the cannon’s rattle,
There you’ll see the bold McCraws,
Cameron’s and Clanronald’s raws,
A’ the clans wi loud huzzas,
Rushing tae the battle.
There you’ll see the noble Whigs,
A’ the heroes o the brigs,
Raw hides and withered wigs,
Riding in array, man.
Rien hose and raggit hools,
Psalm-books and cutty stools,
We’ll see never mair, man.
Will ye go to Sheriffmuir,
Bold John o’ Innisture?
Sic a day and sic an hour,
Neir was in the north man.
Siccan sichts will there be seen;
And gin some be nae mistaen,
Fragrant gales will come bedeen,
Frae the water o Forth, man.
It was a short trip from Sherrifmuir to the campus where I booked in and had a wander round. What a stunning place.
I then got ready for my chat at night met Steve who was running the course. There were 12 teams represented, the Coastguards and the Red Cross. I met most at the evening meal and the weekend was to them all a success. What a difference from my early days in Mountain Rescue. There was a Call out for the local Ochils Team just as they got their meal sadly they had to leave!
I did my piece reliving some nightmare scenarios but seeing what is in place now helps a lot. Gone are the days of being told to “man up“ Help is there and the audience were well briefed where to get help if needed and coping and helping others. I got many questions and we spoke about the effect of incidents on our families. This was rarely discussed before.
Also that folk not just the young but I know of many who struggle with their demons many years after a nasty incident. By that time most have left the Emergency service how do they get help?
In all it was an interesting night. We retired to the bar and it was an Abba Tribute Band on pretty surreal. I had a quick drink and left. I always struggle to sleep after these talks. My head is buzzing how with hindsight I could have looked after my team and family better. Yet it’s worth doing these talks passing on our mistakes so that future generations will learn from them despite the personal cost?
I always get asked how do I cope with these talks ? I only do them rarely now but we must ensure that we pass on to others what we have learned to make their journey in life better? It’s a small price to pay?
The Ochils team had a successful call out and came back on a high to their evening meal at 2200. Thanks to the Hotel for their kindness.
I hope to get a wander on the way back home. It helps me unwind in the fresh air. It’s better than any pills. Keep up the great work look after each other and your families . The world is crazy just now but there are so many good, kind folk about.
Thanks to Scottish Mountain Rescue, Steve, Gill, Sue and Liz and others who made the weekend possible.
Comments welcome as always!