Highlands & Islands

Tributes to pioneer of Scottish skiing Philip Rankin

Philip Rankin, middle, receiving Snowsport Scotland Lifetime Award Image copyright Snowsport Scotland
Image caption Philip Rankin, middle, receiving a Snowsport Scotland Lifetime Award last year

Tributes have been paid to a pioneer of the Scottish ski industry.

Philip Rankin, who has died at his home in Ballachulish at the age of 99, led the construction of Scotland's first ski tow in Glen Coe in the 1950s.

He and fellow engineers at the Clyde shipyard in Glasgow where he worked used scrap metal to build it.

Mr Rankin's enthusiasm for skiing was encouraged by a doctor who treated him for injuries he suffered as a Spitfire pilot in World War Two.

He was shot down by a German bomber and his fighter plane crashed into the North Sea in 1942.

A Canadian doctor at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, encouraged Mr Rankin's enthusiasm for skiing, saying that the pursuit would aid his recovery from his wounds.

Skiing in Glen Coe Image copyright Glencoe Mountain
Image caption Philip Rankin was a pioneer of mechanised skiing in Scotland

But Mr Rankin, who died on Sunday, almost a month before his 100th birthday, took his interest in skiing beyond just doing it to establishing ski runs high up on the slopes of the mountain Meall a'Bhuiridh.

Parts of the infrastructure he helped to construct 60 years ago remains in working order today, including what is believed to be the world's oldest single person ski lift.

Andy Meldrum, owner of Glencoe Mountain snowsports centre, described Mr Rankin's achievements as "remarkable".

He said: "Not only did Philip Rankin and the others build the first lift, they identified exactly the right places where there would be snow for skiing.

"Scotland's snowsports industry has much to be grateful for for Philip's vision 60 years ago."

Skiing in Glen Coe Image copyright Glencoe Mountain
Image caption Mr Rankin's achievements in Glen Coe have been described as "remarkable"

Mr Meldrum, who took over the snowsports centre in Glen Coe more than seven years ago, first met Mr Rankin when the former fighter pilot was 94.

"He came along for the launch of our new avalanche transceiver park. He was still a very active man and wanted to walk up the hill," said Mr Meldrum.

"After that he was a regular visitor to the centre."

Rankin's Return, a new ski run created in honour of Mr Rankin was opened this year at Glencoe Mountain.

Skiing in Glen Coe Image copyright Glencoe Mountain
Image caption The work done by Mr Rankin and others in the 1950s included identifying prime locations for skiing

Snowsport Scotland, an organisation that promotes skiing and snowboarding, awarded a lifetime achievement award to Mr Rankin in November last year.

It said: "It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we announce the passing away of a valued member of the snowsport community Philip Rankin at the age of 99.

"Philip Rankin was a founding force of the mechanised uplift in Scotland and passed away in the comfort of his own home.

"Philip was extremely grateful after receiving the Snowsport Scotland Lifetime award in November.

"Our thoughts go out to all his friends and family at this sad time."

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