Between work, the MBA and Bob Scott’s there are altogether too many meetings in my life and they tend not to feature on this blog – for good reason. But a recent meeting of the Bob Scott’s Bothy Association highlighted just how much that organisation does, and over what a wide area, so this time I’ll make an exception. Along with a wee note about how the Association came about.
The meeting started with the chairman’s disclaimer that none of us wanted to be where we were and was tempered with the assurance that it had made no difference anyway.
A curious start to a meeting about a bothy we all care so much about, but that’s what happens when bureaucracy rears its ugly head.
Kenny Freeman, chairman of Bob Scott’s Bothy Association, a Scottish Charitably Instituted Organisation (SCIO), number SC045804, was commenting less on his dedication to the bothy and more on his distaste for the officialdom and red tape which had forced itself upon us.
After Bob Scott left Luibeg Cottage, his bothy was looked after in a completely informal way by the people who used it. At any given time those people may have adopted a name – Winers Diners and Climbers for a period, then Friends of Bob Scott’s – but these names were convenient fictions: neither body had any real legal existence and the situation remained fluid and informal. When I became involved in looking after the bothy I was mystified to hear Kenny referring to me as one of the Friends of Bob Scott’s. Flattered, but with no recollection of having been elected, appointed or accepted. It was then that Kenny explained: anyone who helped was a member of FoBS – it really was that simple. And it worked.
Until one day it wasn’t going to work any longer. The long arm of the National Trust for Scotland’s head office bureaucrats reached out to Mar Lodge Estate and announced all was not well with the paperwork for the structure known as Bob Scott’s Bothy – there was none.
Local management was sympathetic and helpful, but the end result was the most active current ‘members’ of FoBS set up a properly constituted SCIO which could sign formal lease for the bothy. Where once everyone just got on with it, now we have to get on with it while holding official meetings, jumping through all the loops of red tape and having to raise several hundred a year for insurance before we’ve even started to raise funds for maintenance.
But hey ho. We are where we are, and the recent meeting of the Association Kenny underlined that the ethos of the bothy – that it is maintained for the use of all, free of charge – has remained unchanged, and that use has remained high.
A report on the last year’s work showed that it’s not just Bob Scott’s that has benefitted from the members’ dedication.
In Bob Scott’s Bothy itself we’ve had the septic tank emptied (time consuming and expensive), partially replaced the floor, renovated the stove and installed new windows (all of this work headed up by Maintenance Officer – the Jannie – Neil Findlay).
Further afield, a group of members provided manpower to carry the materials in for the new roof at the Secret Howff. With MBA funding we also carried out extensive renovations at the Glas Allt Sheil bothy on Loch Muick.
And, of course, since BSBA members make up a substantial part of the Eastern Area membership of the MBA, we’ve been MOs and helping out at bothies throughout the Cairngorms (and in Neil Findlay’s case throughout Scotland!).
Fundraising activities have included Bob Scott’s Bothy T-shirts and a popular calendar commemorating both the bothy and the Aitken’s Morning Roll Song.
And, though it didn’t make the chairman’s report, I can report that Bob Scott’s Bothy has had its first wedding! The groom had proposed to his girlfriend just a couple of hundred yards up the river from the bothy, then decided it would be fitting to get married in the bothy – if such a thing were possible.
It was, and on the Friday before Easter about 30 or 40 guests joined the bride and groom at the bothy for the ceremony, sharing cake and nips with a couple of ‘residents’ before heading off down the glen to the evening reception.