Tom Weir's Statue Draws Bumper Visitor Numbers
Countryside legend Tom Weir's statue at Balmaha Bay on the east side of Loch Lomond is proving to be a runaway success with a bumper 60,000 UK and overseas visitors since it was first unveiled 8 months ago to commemorate the life of Scotland's most popular mountain man.
The news of the popularity of the statue as one of Loch Lomond's top attractions has coincided with the announcement that £21,000 has been secured for further improvements at the picnic site beside the statue and work is now well underway building more attractive stone walling, widening the pavement link to the site, renewing picnic tables and installing 6 memorial benches.
£15,000 has been allocated by the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs. This includes £10,000 from a legacy received from their late President Dr. Hannah Stirling MBE and a further £5,000 from their popular Friends of OUR Park visitor giving scheme which raises donations for conservation and heritage projects from visitors via local businesses such as the Oak Tree Inn, near the Tom Weir Statue. £6,000 has also been secured from Love Loch Lomond, the local destination organisation comprising local businesses which recognise the growing popularity of the Tom Weir Statue and the importance of completing site upgrading works at this flagship location.
James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends of Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “We are pleased the statue is proving to be so popular and is helping to strengthen the visitor appeal of Balmaha. It has become a real focal point at Balmaha Bay due to the work we have undertaken in partnership with the Tom Weir Memorial Group, with the support of the general public, who have made generous donations, and funding from a range of other sources.''
Susan Taylor, Adminstrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group added: ''We are delighted additional funds have been secured from the Friends and Love Loch Lomond to enable us to press on with further improvements at Tom Weir's Rest and we currently have several other funding bids under consideration as we are keen to complete all site works and ideally this year. We envisage spending a total of £125,000 and, very encouragingly, we have now raised £100,000.''
Karen Donnelly, Project Manager of Love Loch Lomond, said: “A major priority for us is strengthening connectivity around Loch Lomondside and the work underway at Tom Weir's Rest is improving pedestrian access between a busy car park and scenic Balmaha Bay. The statue itself has also proved to be a major draw and, with our funding support, we are therefore pleased to be able to help accelerate works to provide a high quality visitor experience at Balmaha.''
Future plans include installing storyboards to tell the Tom Weir story and to showcase the cultural and natural heritage of Balmaha Bay and producing a booklet introducing 'Tom Weir's Loch Lomond Wonderland' to schoolchildren and others.
The public appeal for the Tom Weir Statue site improvement works remains open and donations can be sent to the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, The Old Station, Balloch Road, Balloch G83 8SS or online.
Photo: A summer view of the Tom Statue against the colourful backdrop of Balmaha Bay
1.For further information contact Susan Taylor, Administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group on 07882 942945 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Karen Donnelly, Manager of Love Loch Lomond on 07425 175950 (email@example.com, website www.lovelochlomond.com) or James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs on 07894 908807 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. Tom Weir was a prolific writer and broadcaster on Scotland’s great outdoors for more than 50 years and until his death in 2006. He lived for many years with his wife, Rhona at Gartocharn at the southern end of Loch Lomond where she was Head Teacher at the local primary school.
3. Tom was best known for his popular TV series Weir’s Way which ran between 1976 and1987 and has been frequently re-run over the past 27 years. He also had a monthly feature in the Scots Magazine for almost 50 years.
4. Tom was the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Lifetime Achievement Eagle Award from the British Outdoor Guild of Travel Writers. He was also the first recipient of the John Muir Award for Lifetime Achievement.
5. Tom was an active campaigner for the protection of the Scottish environment and in particular his beloved Loch Lomond where he became a founding member and Honorary Vice-President of the Friends of Loch Lomond when the independent conservation body was formed in 1978.
6. The Friends has a strong membership base and is supported by a large number of individuals and companies who are passionate about caring for and celebrating the special qualities of the National Park. See www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk
7. The Tom Weir Memorial Group was formed in February 2012 by a number of individuals from many walks of life who were keen to mark Tom’s great contribution to enriching the lives of several generations of Scots by introducing them to the wonders of Scotland’s great outdoors. See www.facebook.com/tomweirmemorial