Two men have won awards for their dedication to the great outdoors.
Noel Williams is the recipient of the 2019 Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, while Rob Cochrane has taken the title for the 2019 Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.
Noel, an inspirational high school teacher, author of respected mountain guides, founding member of the Lochaber Geopark, retired member of Lochaber Mountain Rescue and accomplished hill runner, has won the prestigious award, sponsored by Liberty British Aluminium.
Nominated by the public and his peers as a mountain hero who celebrates achievement, accomplishment and the spirit of adventure, Noel, from Torlundy, near Fort William, joins the Fort William Mountain Festival Hall of Fame as the 2019 recipient of The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture in its 12th year.
He joins previous esteemed winners that include Cameron McNeish, Dr Adam Watson, Jimmy Marshall,
Myrtle Simpson and Ian Sykes.
As a well-known and respected member of the Lochaber community, having moved to the area for the climbing in 1974, Noel said: ‘I feel very lucky to live in such a wonderful part of the country and I’m amazed to be given an award for doing activities I enjoy so much. I’m passionate about helping people appreciate some of the astonishing events that have shaped the local landscape.
‘I hope that, despite the difficult economic climate, Lochaber Geopark will continue to spread this message.’
Rod Pashley, chairman of the Highland Mountain Culture Association which runs the Fort William Mountain Festival, said: ‘This award recognises a lifetime of inspiring others and sharing knowledge and passion for this spectacular area we live in.
‘Noel is quiet and unassuming, hiding his great contribution to mountain culture. We are delighted to be able to recognise Noel’s hard work, dedication and passion by presenting him with this well-deserved award.’
The award is sponsored by leading Highland employer, Liberty British Aluminium, whose smelter is located at the foot of Ben Nevis just outside Fort William.
Kerry McDonald, general manager of the Liberty British Aluminium Smelter at Fort William, said: ‘As an employer whose home is at the foot of Scotland’s tallest mountain and right at the heart of the Highlands, we are very proud to be associated with an award which promotes the rich and distinctive culture we enjoy here.
‘Noel has done a huge amount over the years to highlight our unique environment and way of life and we applaud him for his work that richly deserves this special honour.’
Rob Cochrane, volunteer ranger, volunteer Cub and Scout group leader and a Duke of Edinburgh leader, from Inverlochy, Fort William, has won the prestigious Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture in 2019, as part of the Fort William Mountain Festival.
Rob is a very keen Scout Leader and has done much to expand the organisation’s activities in Fort William.
Having moved to the area from Aberfeldy to study Adventure Tourism Management at West Highland College, Rob got involved in the local Cub and Scout group. Starting out in a volunteer role he has now taken over as leader and has grown the group as a whole in all areas of Scouting. He often spends his spare time fixing and upgrading the local hall in Kilmallie.
Rob is a regular Duke of Edinburgh leader and has worked as a Trainee Volunteer Ranger with Nevis Landscape Partnership Rob Cochrane recently graduated from West Highland College with a 1st in Adventure
Performance and Coaching.
Rob said: ‘It means an awful lot to receive this award. I really love these mountains; I love living and working in them and sharing them with others. It is truly humbling to have been given this award, and I would like to thank my friends and family who have helped me become who I am.
‘I would also like to thank the Festival committee for their hard work behind the scenes.’
Rod Pashley, chairman of The Highland Mountain Culture Association, which runs the Fort William Mountain Festival, said: ‘Rob is such an excellent example of a young person getting involved and inspiring younger generations in not only Scouting activities but the broader aspects of mountain life. We’re delighted to be able to recognise Rob’s achievements so far and look forward to all that is to come.’
The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture is sponsored jointly by Gael Force Group and the Nevis Landscape Partnership/Heritage Lottery Fund.
Gael Force Group, a trusted Scottish supplier and manufacturer of marine equipment, acquired Corpach Boat Building Company in October 2018, which is soon to be renamed Gael Force Boat Building.
Marc Wilson, marketing manager at Gael Force Boat Building, said: ‘Gael Force Boat Building in Corpach wishes to express its sincere congratulations to Robert Cochrane on his award win, which is thoroughly deserved given his incredible dedication to local outdoor activities as a volunteer and through Duke of Edinburgh Leadership.’
Both men will receive their awards at a special ceremony on 23 February during the Fort William Mountain Festival 2019, which runs in and around Fort William and Lochaber, The Outdoor Capital of the UK, from 20 to 24 February 2019.
The 5th Scottish Youth Ambassador for Mountain Culture will be announced shortly and will also receive their award on Saturday.
To find out more about the Fort William Mountain Festival programme 2019 HERE.