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Campaign to save Savile's Glencoe home in honour of mountaineer

ONE of Scotland's most renowned mountaineers says that Jimmy Savile's former home at Glencoe should not be demolished because it was once lived in by the father of modern mountain rescue, and should be preserved as a tribute to the world-famous climber.

The cottage in Glencoe, known as Allt Na Reigh. Above, from left: Cameron McNeish, Hamish MacInnes and Jimmy Savile  Main photograph:  Jeff J Mitchell
The cottage in Glencoe, known as Allt Na Reigh. Above, from left: Cameron McNeish, Hamish MacInnes and Jimmy Savile Main photograph: Jeff J Mitchell

Climbing expert Cameron McNeish is seeking a meeting with community leaders to prevent the late DJ's Glencoe cottage from being knocked down in the wake of national revelations about his paedophile crimes. McNeish says the building should be preserved for posterity because it was once the home to one of Scotland's greatest mountaineers – the equipment inventor and international consultant on search and rescue Dr Hamish MacInnes.

Legendary mountaineer MacInnes, now 82, developed revolutionary mountain-rescue gear at the remote cottage.

A report by the Metropolitan police and children's protection group the NSPCC says that five offences are now known to have been committed in Scotland, with Savile claiming victims across Strathclyde, Fife, Grampian, Lothian and Borders and in the Northern Constabulary area, in which he owned the Glencoe holiday cottage.

Police confirmed that Savile had allegedly abused one victim in the Highlands, but the offence was not committed at the Glencoe cottage.

Allt Na Reigh, as the cottage is known, is not listed in the report as a location for any of the offences reported to police across the UK.

McNeish, a renowned mountaineer and commentator, says the house played an important part in Scottish mountaineering history that should not be allowed to be overshadowed by Savile's crimes.

The writer and broadcaster said: "The idea that you should just pull down anything that is tainted by Savile is a strange attitude. It's almost like a Middle Ages thing, this hysteria that breaks out when something like this happens."

Hamish MacInnes, who owned the home during the 1960s and 1970s, is known for scaling the world's most dangerous peaks and his MacInnes Stretcher is used internationally.

McNeish said MacInnes was credited with inventing specialist ice axes that are "standard" and other tools used by rescue teams in an adjoining workshop to Allt Na Reigh.

Born in Dumfries and Galloway in 1930 and known as the Fox of Glencoe in reference to his cunning as a mountaineer, MacInnes is recognised widely as the father of modern mountain rescue in Scotland.

He also founded the Search and Rescue Dog Association, set up the Scottish Avalanche Information service and was the advisor and safety officer for Clint Eastwood in movie The Eiger Sanction in 1975.

MacInnes wrote the International Mountain Rescue Hand Book, first published in 1972 and still considered the standard manual around the world. His climbing exploits include being the deputy leader to Sir Chris Bonington's 1975 Everest expedition.

However, many locals want the cottage pulled. Late last year, vandals attacked it and sprayed "Jimmy the Beast" and other obscene slogans on the walls after Savile, who died aged 84 in 2011, was unmasked as a serial child abuser.

McNeish hopes to set up a meeting to try and reach an agreement as to what should be done with the house with Glencoe Community Council and Highland councillor Andrew Baxter, who has said the local community might want the cottage to be pulled down.

PREVIOUS plans to turn the remote property into a respite care centre for the disabled were abandoned when the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust closed down in the wake of the scandal.

"It is important to mountaineers like myself because of the connections with Hamish MacInnes," said McNeish.

"Some say it should be a museum, or become a memorial to Hamish MacInnes ... It would make a fantastic mountaineering club hut or even a house for a ranger.

"My big fear is it will fall into disuse, will become dilapidated and become a target for vandals," McNeish added.

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