Sad news – Willie MacKenzie Glenelg a great man who helped so many. What a character. RIP Willie.

I first met Willie when I was a young lad on a Callout in 1972 to Knoydart. He lived in Arnisdale a beautiful remote spot on the West Coast. He took us over in his boat to Barrisdale and then said to stop for a drink when we got back. He was a character even then “a man of many “hats”police, Postman and , Mountain Rescue Team Leader” I am sure there was no electric in his wee house at that time. We had tea and whisky ( a keepers dram) We met all the family and gave them our emergency chocolate. I sat and took it all in as the tales came out. Though wet and cold we soon warmed up. It is a night that has stayed with me for 50 years. The Glenelg Team had not formed then but Willie and many of the locals had been assisting mountaineers for years.

On my first weekend looking after the team in 1974 as a young party leader 3 of the team had an epic in Knoydart. It was winter and they bivied after getting caught out in darkness. It ended up one sliding down the slope in the night. It all ended up well luckily and we brought them back in Willie’s boat no Callout report was raised. It cost us a rope to help pay for his time. I was worried sick Willie took it all in as if these things happened every day.

Willie what a character. Thanks for all your kindness and memories . Photo Glenelg MRT.

Over the years we met often and I dropped in often always getting great hospitality. We would drop of the odd rope for the team and his boats. Plus the odd sweets and bottle of whisky. He never changed being the Postie, Polis and Mountain Rescue Team Leader and member. The house was always busy as he was and he would give you of his time.

Willie was what Mountain Rescue is to me: real local characters who give so much. They never seek the limelight or are rarely acknowledged they never criticise walkers and climbers. There local knowledge is incredible he like others new his patch. Glenelg is a very small team that covers a wild area I worked with them often.

Last year we met him driving up the road and turning round and back in his car. My friend Kalie recognised him it was a stunning day. He still had that great glint in his eye and we had a few words and then he turned and went back home. It was a grand day and with the backdrop of Beinn Sgreathail the hill above Willie’s house and to meet WIllie was surreal. Memories came flooding back.

Willie like many had a huge influence on me as a young man and as a Team leader. He was an incredible man who touched so many’s lives. They don’t make them like Willie nowadays but thanks for all the tips and kindness shown to so many. His family followed him in the team over the years I often asked how he was doing and to pass on my regards.

My thoughts are with Willie’s family, friends and the Glenelg team.

Thank you Glenelg MRT for that classic photo and telling me the sad news. I will be on Skye when Willies Funeral is on . I will have a dram and a bit of time for thoughts about him and his life.


22.11.1930 – 25.11.2022

Peacefully on Friday, 25 November 2022 at Castlehill Care Home, Inverness, William Campbell MacKenzie, aged 92 years, Corran, Arnisdale.

Local postman for 42 years, long- time Special Constable and Glenel Mountain Rescue Team Leader. Beloved husband of the late Christina, loving father of Billy, Shona, David, Alan and Roddy. Dearest father-in-law, brother-in-law, loving grandfather, uncle and a good friend of many.

Funeral Service on
Wednesday, 7th December at 12 noon in Glenel Church thereafter to Glenel Burial Ground. Family flowers only please. Donations for Alzheimer Scotland and Crossroads may be given
at the service.

Arrangements by D. N. Munro, Funeral Director, Glenshiel, 01599 511312

A great team thinking of you all.


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The Glenelg Mountain Rescue Team

The Glenelg Mountain Rescue Association was originally established in 1973 by the late Dr Catherine MacInnes (the then local G.P.) to cover the Parish of Glenelg. It completed its registration as a charity in 1974. (Scottish charity registration number – SCO 07565)

Area covered

The Parish takes in the Glenelg peninsula jutting into Loch Duich, then heads east as far as the south side of the Saddle, taking in Arnisdale, and stretching as far south as Loch Morar, taking in Kinlochourn, Barrisdale and Knoydart, an area of approximately 550 square kilometers. Some of the Knoydart peninsula is also covered by our colleagues in the Lochaber MRT because it is such a remote and complex piece of ground. See map

The Team

The team was originally made up of shepherds, stalkers, forestry workers, a doctor and people who generally worked outdoors. This is still true but with a mix of mountaineers, roped access workers, boat masters and many other professions. There are normally 20 to 30 members on the team which is a very large percentage of the community considering the Parish has a population of less than 300.


Like the other 25 voluntary teams in Scotland, Glenelg MRT gives free service to the members of the public whom request their assistance. All Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams receive grant aid from the Scottish Government and assistance from major sponsors like the Order of St John. We also rely on charitable donations and bequests from members of the public as well as local and national businesses, in order that we may continue to deliver the service we provide.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sad news – Willie MacKenzie Glenelg a great man who helped so many. What a character. RIP Willie.

  1. Ken Ross says:

    Willie was a real character! He drove the Postbus from Glenelg to Kyle and back so I met him many times. Always time for a blether!

    Liked by 1 person

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