Tributes pour in for beloved Glencoe pioneer

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ONE of Glencoe Ski Club’s founding members who carried on skiing, despite his failing health, has passed away aged 92.

Tributes have poured in for “Glencoe legend” Harrold Thomson from Glasgow following his death on Wednesday.

The former engineer launched Scotland’s skiing industry when he helped to create and build the first ski lift at Glencoe over 60 years ago.

In the 1950’s Harrold used to camp at the bottom of the mountain during the winter so that he could work and ski at the resort.

Harrold with his grandson at Glencoe in 2015.

The avid skier was renowned for wearing a red ‘Glencoe Ski Club’ hat on the slopes and has been championed for being a pioneer in Scotland’s snow sports industry.

Harrold passed away following a five year battle with Alzheimer’s and leaves behind his wife Connie Thomson, 87, twins Bruce and Eric Thomson, both, 49, and son Duncan Thomson, 51 and eight grandchildren who all ski. 

In his lifetime he would continuously bring his children up to Glencoe in a bid to share his love for the skiing industry and was lucky to be able to ski with all his grandchildren.

Following his death, Harrold’s family members, ski fans and Glencoe ski resort have shared tributes to the skiing legend.

Harrold in his red Glencoe hat

Speaking today Harrold’s son, Eric Thomson, 49, said: “We were brought up skiing and I ski with my kids today.“In the Winter we would head to Glencoe every weekend with my mum and dad and a group from the club.”

“Despite his failing health he was still determined to keep skiing”

“I was fearful one day he’d fall over and not get back up. The lifties, ski patrol and everyone who knew him, always looked out for him”

“Sadly, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the last few years and was unable to continue to ski.”

Harrold was a civil engineer and helped built the first chairlift in Scotland with former spitfire pilot Philip Rankin – who passed away in 2017 just a month before his 100th birthday.

Eric added: “The first tow was at the top of the hill and was a rudimentary rope tow supported by metal tripods.

“This was originally run by the members of Scottish Ski Club which included Philip and dad”

“When [the ski company] White Corries came into being, headed by Philip Rankin, there were two full time staff members and eight work party members, with dad assisting in the construction and running of both the access lift and the ‘new’ T-bar which replaced the original tow”.

“The work party ran the lifts and worked voluntarily, working in two shifts – half helping while the other half skied for free.

“Dad originally got the MacBraynes bus to Glencoe but later bought a car and camped at the bottom of the hill for a number of years in the early to mid 50’s.

“A number of years later, he along with a number of others founded the Glencoe Ski Club, constructing a ski lodge at Bridge of Orchy which is still used by the members today”

“Dad contributed huge amounts of time, hundreds of days into building the lodge, which was built by the members by hand, and he was a very active and prominent member in the club over the years.”

Images of the first ski lift which Harrold help build in 1956.

Andy Meldrum, managing director at Glencoe Mountain Resort today paid tribute, saying: “Harrold was one of the original work party who built the first lifts back in 1956.

“As a civil engineer he was also responsible for the survey of the original Access Chairlift which at that time was the first chairlift in Scotland. We all have a lot to thank him for.

“He skied at Glencoe for more than 60 years, and was still skiing just a few years ago in his late 80’s.

“My abiding memory of Harrold was about five years ago.

“I was picking my way very slowly down the main basin in cruddy snow and near zero visibility only to spot Harrold in his easily identifiable red hat go whizzing past.

“The horrible snow and lack of visibility not seeming to bother him in the slightest.

“Our sympathies and thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.”

Glencoe Mountain Resort shared the sad news about Harrold’s passing on their Facebook page.

Images of the first ski lift which Harrold help build in 1956.

The post was shared over 2,000 times and attracted more than a hundred tribute messages with many sharing fond memories of the well-loved “true gentleman”. 

Sarah Ritchie wrote: “Sorry to hear this news.

“Harrold and Connie were my neighbours in Glasgow when I was growing up.

“I remember their boys skiing down Midlothian Drive in Shawlands one year when it snowed heavily.” 

Angela Dingwall said: “Absolutely lovely man that will be dearly missed by all.”

Grody Orr commented: “So sad to hear the news that another Glencoe legend has left us.

“I shared many T-bars with Harrold and it was always inspiring to see him up on the hill every year.

“Thoughts going out to all those who knew him.”

David MacDougall added: “So sad, Harrold was a lovely man and a legend of the white Corries.

“I always thought of him as the Tom Weir of Glencoe with his red wooly hat.

“Will miss seeing him. Thinking of all his family and friend’s at this sad time. Rip.”