Murray Scott

2nd November 2012 at 00:00
The pioneering figure in outdoor and community education has died, aged 86

Murray Scott, who has died aged 86, was one of the most influential figures in outdoor and community education in Scotland.

A former principal of Glenmore Lodge from 1955 to 1961, he was a member of the committee set up to hold an enquiry into the Cairngorms tragedy of November 1971 in which five pupils from Ainslie Park High in Edinburgh and one teacher died from exposure - arguably the worst disaster in Scottish mountaineering history.

Born in Kirkwall on 11 November, 1925, he moved to Edinburgh at the age of five. On leaving Trinity Academy at 17, he volunteered for the Royal Marines and then joined the Royal Marine Commandos.

On returning to civilian life after the war, he studied geography at the University of Edinburgh, graduating with an honours degree in 1950. He had a short spell teaching geography at Blairgowrie High and Tynecastle High before the outdoors beckoned.

He obtained a post as field studies instructor at Glenmore Lodge and became its principal in 1955. He was to oversee the centre's migration from the "old" Lodge (now the youth hostel) to the "new" Glenmore Lodge.

It was at Glenmore that he married his wife June and started his family.

In 1961, the family moved to North Berwick when Scott joined HMI in the informal further education section of the Scottish Education Department. His job was to inspect the outdoor centres that were then beginning to spring up under virtually every local authority.

There followed his membership of the committee tasked with investigating the "Great Cairngorms Tragedy" in which six members out of a school party of eight died in a blizzard. The group's findings were to have a huge impact on future regulations for school outdoor expeditions.

He retired from HMI in 1982, but in 1983 was again active professionally. The Secretary of State for Scotland had invited the Scottish Community Education Council to make recommendations on children's play in Scotland and Scott was commissioned to conduct a research project. The Scott report, published in 1984, was seen as the "bible of the day" on children's play and shaped children's play provision over the following decade.

At the age of 57, Scott joined the Haddington and East Lothian running club and went on to run 13 marathons all over the world, including the very first London marathon and the Nice and New York marathons.

In 1988, the call of the Highlands was such that he moved to Drumguish, where he built a new home and became involved in cycling, taking part in a weekly cycle ride with the Cairngorm Cycling Club. He completed the annual Highland Cross midsummer biathlon at least four times, becoming the first person over the age of 70 to finish the event.

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