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Tom Weir

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Tom (Thomas) Weir (December 29, 1914 - July 6, 2006) was anything but a secret. Considered by many to be one of our national treasures, he is sure to be fondly remembered as one of Scotland's hidden gems. Tom Weir was probably responsible for more world-wide interest in Scotland, its countryside and its history than many of those officially charged with that task.

Weir's Way

Tom Weir, thanks to STV
Tom Weir - Weir's Way

His best known programme, Weir's Way, was originally shown on Scottish Television (STV) in 1976, and was to become a late-night hit when repeated in the midnight to 3 am slot in the late 1990s and early 2000s, attracting some 30% of late-night viewers. The programme featured his travels around Scotland exploring its landscape and natural history, and meeting its people, with whom he had formed many friendships over his years of travel. In each programme, he would delve into the social history, physical geography and life and times of people in the area, both past and present, always conducting himself with the charm and civility he came to be known for. He had a great knack of speaking to total strangers and putting them at ease. By 2006, the arrival of (truly atrocious) late-night TV phone-in quiz shows bumped the programme from its latter-day home. Some of his programmes can still be seen at stv.tv.

In contrast to today's manufactured and managed celebrities, he received no payment when his programmes were reshown. In a letter to The Herald of October 2004, a former senior executive confirmed that when the programme was set up, no one envisaged the likelihood of it being repeated in later years, and had that been the case, a different arrangement would have been agreed. He did, however, express an opinion that the broadcaster make a gesture of appreciation to Tom.[1] [2]

A regular contributor to the well known and long established Scots Magazine, published by DC Thomson of Dundee, he contributed articles for more than 50 years, and also became a pioneering campaigner for the protection of the Scottish environment. In 1978 he was named Scottish radio and television personality of the year; in 1992 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society; in 2000 he received an MBE and was honoured with a John Muir lifetime achievement award, presented by his friend and fellow environmentalist, Adam Watson.

His regular Scots Magazine contribution was entitled My month, and appeared for 43 years until he announced his final article under the title in the December, 1999 issue, quoting his forthcoming 85th birthday on December 29, and his thought that it was better to leave on a "high" and to leave while the going was good. Recalling his first writing for the magazine in 1949, he reflected on the way the hills seem to be getting higher every year, and described himself as becoming more of a naturalist than a mountaineer.

He was also an author whose writings were admired for the picture they painted of the places he described. His other works include Highland Days (1948), Tom Weirís Scotland (1982), and Weirís World (1994).

Born in Glasgow, and raised poor but happy in a Springburn tenement, Tom Weir finally settled in Gartocharn, West Dunbartonshire. He died in the Sunningdale Retirement Home at Balloch (West Dunbartonshire), where he spent the last three years of his life. His sister, stage actress and writer Molly Weir (b.1910), passed away in 2004.

Tom Weir is survived by his wife of 47 years, Rhona Weir.

STV news noted his passing with the following (sorry, but the typos/errors are part of the quote):

07 July 2006

One of Scotland's most well-known broadcasters and champion of the great outdoors, Tom Weir, has died. The 91-year-old was best known through his long running stv series Weirs Way in which he explored the Scottish countryside. He passed away yesterday at a retirement home in Balloch.

He was a climber, a naturalist, an explorer, a writer but most of all he was one of the first ever TV presenters to bring the beauty of Scotland's great outdoors to a worldwide audience. In his wooly bunnet and Fair Isle jumper, Tom Weir was an unmistakable figure roaming across the Scottish landscape.

He was born in Glasgow's Springburn in 1914 and grew up without his father who was killed in the First World War. After his own war time service, he was employed as a surveyor for Ordinance Survey but soon established a full time career as a writer, climber and and photographer.

He travelled widely and was of the first mountaineers to explore Nepal. In Scotland he was best known for being presenter of Weir's Way which recently found popularity with a younger audience. An icon in Scottish life, he will be remembered for bringing natural beauty of Scotland to thousand of viewers.

© STV News

The following Motion was lodged with the Scottish Parliament:

S2M-04654 Mr Ted Brocklebank (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con): Death of Tom Weir - That the Parliament notes the sad death of the broadcaster, climber, naturalist and writer, Tom Weir, whose STV programme, "Weirís Way", brought the beauty of Scotlandís outdoor places to generations of Scots and those further afield; recognises his genuine ability to engage with all types of people and his passion for the Scottish landscape and natural history; further notes the rediscovery of Tomís work through recent repeats of his work on television which has gained a new and younger audience, and sends its condolences to his wife and family.

Memories

He donated his entire collection of memorabilia, gathered over his years of exploration around the country, to Glasgow's Mitchell library.

Memorial

In 2006/2007, the Friends of Springburn Park began a fundraising effort to commemorate the life of Tom Weir, and hope to be able to commission a statue, to be placed in the park in his memory.

Song release

A musical tribute, released in 2005:

Tom Weir, Tom Weir
Plus-fours and a wee woolly hat.
Three cheers for Tom Weir
Tom Weir, king of the anoraks the anoraks the anoraks
The anoraks the anoraks the anoraks.

Tom Weir, balladeer, musketeer, always up for the crack.
Three cheers, Tom Weir
Tom Weir, king of the anoraks...

His trousers indicated
he was sadly dislocated
from the future.
Discussing history
with a Weegie
or a Fifer or a Teuchter.

Free beer for Tom Weir
Tom Weir and his wee canvas sack.
Three cheers, Tom Weir
Tom Weir king of the anoraks...

His red nose manifested
many years had been invested
in the bevvy (hic).
From Eigg to Rum and Coll
with double single malt and a wee heavy.

Free gear for Tom Weir
Tom Weir and his wee woolly hat.
Three cheers, Tom Weir
Tom Weir, king of the anoraks the anoraks the anoraks
The anoraks the anoraks the anoraks
The anoraks the anoraks the anoraks
The anoraks the anoraks the anoraks.

- 'Tom Weir', Aberfeldy, 2005. Rough Trade RTRADSCD218

References

1 Justice for Tom

2 The Herald, October 25, 2004.

External links

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