Tom Weir Statue, Balmaha
I’ve already featured Balmaha, Loch Lomond as one of my favourite places before. This feature is about a wonderful addition to Balmaha – The Tom Weir Statue and is written to coincide with its first anniversary.
On the 29th December 2014 I was jostling for position within a group of press photographers capturing the moment that the Tom Weir statue was officially unveiled by his widow Rhona on the banks of Loch Lomond.
I had been asked to take the official photographs of the event for the Friends of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs and the Tom Weir Memorial Group. The coverage in print, online and on radio and TV was immense, but the interest didn’t end there. In fact over the days and months that followed that cold, foggy December day thousands of people have visited the statue that celebrates the life and work of the legendary writer, broadcaster and lover of Scotland’s great outdoors. (Below picture of Rhona Weir).
‘Weir’s Rest’, is located next to The Oak Tree Inn, who are one of my clients. I am frequently in Balmaha, sometimes several times a week, for either business or pleasure and it is not often that you look towards the statue and the bay and there isn’t someone having their photograph taken on this beautiful spot. It’s not a surprise that this has become one of Loch Lomond’s most photographed views. Search on social media and you will find thousands of photographs!
I run a number of photography training courses throughout the year, many of which take place in Balmaha. For those ones we often take in the opportunity to photograph the statue.
The 29th December 2014, was a special date. It marked the 100th anniversary of Tom’s birth. Tom lived for many years in the nearby village of Gartocharn. Tom is best known for his popular TV series Weir’s Way, which ran between 1976 and 1987, when he brought the wonders of Scotland’s countryside into people’s living rooms. The clip below features Tom Weir flying over Balmaha in a balloon!
Tom’s love of the outdoors was infectious. Tom received many prestigious awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Eagle Award from the British Outdoor Guild of Travel Writers and was the first recipient of the John Muir Award for Lifetime achievement.
The Tom Weir Memorial Group was formed in 2013 by a number of individuals who were keen to celebrate Tom’s life and work. They successfully fundraised and organised, working with the Friends of Loch Lomond, for a statue to be established at Balmaha.
The statue has been very well received, capturing the imagination of visitors. The site also now includes new benches, improved landscaping and a newly planted mountain garden. The mountain garden is very appropriate as Tom and Rhona first met on a mountain and shared a love of Scotland’s mountains.
In May 2015 I was asked to photograph the first ‘Weirfest’, a festival next to the statue which featured food and drink, entertainment and live music. Once again there were plenty of Tom’s signature red toorie hats being worn. Quite often you will see one on Tom’s head on the statue.
In time for Weirfest I provided a photograph and logo for the official range of merchandise for Tom Weir and the statue. They are sold at local events as well as Balmaha’s village shop.
It’s been wonderful to see the response to the Tom Weir Statue, and the improvements that it has brought to this beautiful spot on the banks of Loch Lomond. Tom will have experienced all types of weather during his 50 year career, the statue in its first year has too experienced the full extremes of Scottish weather. I have enjoyed photographing it through the changing seasons.
I am a Family Portrait & Wedding Photographer, I also create photography and video for business offering on-line content and marketing support. I run regular introduction to photography training courses, ideal if you you want to learn how your camera works and take better photographs. I am based in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and work throughout Scotland including Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. See more at my website – www.paulsaundersphotography.com or call me on 01360 661029.