All roads led to Balmaha on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond earlier today (Monday 29th December) as hundreds of people from all over Scotland witnessed the unveiling of an impressive bronze statue in memory of countryside legend Tom Weir, who was originally from Springburn.
They joined in the celebrations by raising replicas of Tom’s signature red and white toorie hat to mark the centenary of his birth and his great contribution to introducing generations to Scotland’s outdoors through his adventures as a climber, naturalist, writer and broadcaster.
Well-known outdoor writers and broadcasters Cameron McNeish and Jimmie MacGregor joined Tom’s widow, 94-year-old Rhona Weir, to unveil the statue against the idyllic backdrop of Balmaha Bay.
A special musical tribute was performed by popular Scottish minstrel Alistair McDonald who played some of Tom’s favourite music, including Loch Lomond and The Rowan Tree.
Speaking at the statue unveiling, Cameron McNeish said: “Tom would have been 100 years old today and it’s interesting that he was born only a few days after the death of the great John Muir. The two men were so similar in many ways; in their passion for wild land and in their belief that we should look after and nurture the natural world as much as we could.
“Just as John Muir is remembered in his birth town of Dunbar with a statue in the Main Street so Tom will also be remembered with a statue on Loch Lomondside so that future generations will remember him and what he achieved for Scotland.’’
Jimmie MacGregor said: “Tom Weir and I shared a Springburn working class background and an intense interest in the natural world, but I knew him initially only through his articles in the Scots magazine. Later I came to appreciate his inspirational and educational influence through his wonderful television programmes.”
Tom’s widow, Rhona Weir, is delighted with the quality of the statue and said: “The level of detail and likeness to Tom is amazing and I am pleased the statue has been sited at one of Tom’s favourite spots on Loch Lomondside, which inspired so much of his writings and broadcasts on Scotland’s great outdoors.”
Susan Taylor, administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group, added: “This special celebration and statue unveiling is the culmination of almost three years hard work by a dedicated group of volunteers who were determined to mark Tom’s contribution to enriching the lives of many tens of thousands of people with his writings and broadcasts on facets of Scotland’s rich and diverse heritage.
“The fact that we have raised over £70,000 is tribute to the high regard Tom is held in and we are grateful to the hundreds of knitters who donated thousands of Tom’s signature red and white toorie hats, which has been a great fundraiser and are very much in evidence today, and the thousands of other members of the public who have generously donated funds.
“We are also grateful to other funding partners including the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Stirling Council, DC Thompson, STV and The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, without whose help it would not have been possible to fund and deliver the statue and associated works in memory of Tom in time for his centenary anniversary.’’
The statue sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn, who was in attendance at the statue unveiling presented Tom’s widow, Rhona with a miniature replica.
Pictured at the statue are Tom’s widow, Rhona Weir, with Cameron McNeish (right) and Jimmie MacGregor (Left).