Organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival, which runs from 15 - 19 February, have announced that Dr Adam Watson, biologist, ecologist, mountaineer, author and defender of the environment, is the fifth recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.
This prestigious annual award recognizes and celebrates the achievements and accomplishments of one inspiring individual and their outstanding contributions to Scotland's mountains, encompassing sport, theatre, art, photography, film and literature. It was set up in 2008 by the Highland Mountain Culture Association Ltd, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival, and is sponsored by Rio Tinto Alcan through the Scottish Community Foundation. Previous winners include: Iain Sykes (2011), Jimmy Marshall (2010), Richard Else (2009) and Dr. Hamish McInnes (2008).
Mike Pescod, local guide and Chairman of the Highland Mountain Culture Association said:
'To some people, like Dr Adam Watson, the draw of the mountains is so strong that they devote their entire life to them and make a massive contribution to the culture surrounding them in doing so. Recognition of their talent and commitment is rarely sought or given and this award is one opportunity to do so. We feel that this award not only celebrates their achievements and contributions but also represents the recognition of their peers.'
'By awarding one exceptional individual every year we are creating a list of ambassadors who represent the best in Mountain Culture in Scotland and beyond. We believe that the continuing success of the Fort William Mountain Festival, together with an increase in its significance and importance by the annual presentation of this award, will also be reflected in economic and cultural benefits to the people of Scotland, particularly those that are resident in mountain or rural communities.'
'Few people, if anyone, can have a better understanding and knowledge of the Scottish mountains than Dr Adam Watson. From the plants and animals that live in them through to our impact and legacy on the mountains, Dr Adam Watson has studied it all and helped us to know our mountains in far greater detail and depth. Dr Adam Watson is a great ambassador for mountain culture.'
Dr Adam Watson, from Aberdeenshire, has spent his life in scientific study of the Cairngorms, and in celebrating and defending them. Dubbed 'Mr Cairngorms', Dr. Watson is widely acknowledged as Scotland's pre-eminent authority on this mountain range, and has written extensively about the area.
His unceasing curiosity has led him to contribute an astonishing amount to the understanding of mountain landscapes and ecology. It's said that few people know more about snow and the animals that inhabit it. His vast academic output and contributions to the understanding of the flora and fauna in Scotland and elsewhere have been internationally recognised in many honours, including the second-ever John Muir Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
Dr Adam Watson has combined a lifetime's wide-ranging scientific study in the Cairngorms with a passionate devotion to the hills, their wildlife and their people. He is also a natural communicator with an infectious enthusiasm for the sciences. His writings over the last 58 years include 23 books and many hundreds of scientific and other publications. A former John Muir Trust Trustee and Adviser, he also served on the Countryside Commission for Scotland and the Cairngorms Partnership, but has always remained staunchly independent in campaigning for the conservation of the Cairngorms, to him 'the most wonderful place on earth'.
Although now retired, he has continued to follow his many interests - publishing on the subjects of mountain birds, snow and the place names of Deeside.
Dr Watson's Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture will be made on Saturday 18 February at the Nevis Centre, Fort William, as part of the Fort William Mountain Festival programme. It will be preceded by a short film that includes still photographic highlights of his lifetime achievements and testimonials from friends and admirers.
A spokesperson from Rio Tinto Alcan, said:
'We are very proud to sponsor the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture through the Scottish Community Foundation. The ethos of this award fits well with Rio Tinto Alcan's business culture and our drive for sustainable operations within this spectacular mountain environment.'