TOM WEIR (1914-2006), RHONA WEIR (1920-2017)
MOLLY WEIR (1910-2004)
In this beautiful and peaceful grave yard, we have an eclectic mix of graves, ranging from historical to fairly recent. One which stands out as a fairly recent one is that of the Weir family; Tom Weir, his wife Rhona and his sister Molly.
Let’s begin with Tom who was a famous climber. He was born in Springburn in Glasgow on 29th December 1914 so he was actually a city boy. As he grew older he discovered love for the country and nature, made accessible for him via his bike at weekends. He was employed in the local co-op in Springburn and, perhaps fortuitously as it turned out, his employment came to a somewhat abrupt end after an incident of fooling around which his boss took exception to and told him off in front of the customers. Tom in turn took exception to that and left his employment.
He then received his call up papers for World War 2. He served in the Royal Artillery, and then worked as a surveyor for the Ordnance Survey.
In 1950 Tom was a member of the first post war Himalayan Expedition and in 1952 was one of the first to explore the previously closed mountain ranges of Kathmandu. There were many such expeditions of note, too many to mention.
From 1976 to 1987 he hosted the TV programme Weir’s Way which was very popular and involved him meeting the people of Scotland, exploring the landscape and its natural history. These are all available to view and are really worth watching.
Tom was appointed MBE in 1976. He lived in Gartocharn from 1959 with his wife Rhona. He will be remembered by a lot of local people as the Headmistress of the school’s husband. One of the perks of that was that he arranged for the famous climber Sherpa Dawa Tensing to visit Ardoch Bridge School as seen in the photograph above.
He died on 6th July 2006 and is buried in one of his signature Fair Isle jumpers and his red wool toorie. A statue of him was unveiled in Balmaha, in 2014, by his wife Rhona.
Rhona Weir was born in Scotland but brought up in Cornwall between the ages of seven and 14, the only girl in a family with five boys (she had four brothers and a cousin who lived with them) and a father who was a ship’s captain.
Rhona was Tom’ s wife and also had her own important position locally. From 1959 she was a teacher at the local school in Gartocharn, at first Ardoch Bridge and then Gartocharn Primary on Ross Loan. She was headteacher for many years retiring in 1986. Many in the local area still have fond memories of being taught by her. Rhona and Tom took her school pupils on annual hill walks up Ben Lomond or Ben Venue.
She met Tom on a bus coming back from a local climb. She was a very active member of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club. She organised many walking and climbing trips for the members to all parts of Scotland staying in remote bothies and cottages. After Tom’s death she was involved in various conservation activities. Rhona died on 3rd June 2017.
Molly Weir's ashes are interred in this grave. She was Tom’s older sister and was born on 17th March 1910 and died on 28th November, 2004 at 94 years of age.
She left school to take a secretarial course and became a local celebrity with the phenomenal shorthand speed of 300 words a minute long before the days of computers. She was also a prolific writer – her first article was accepted by the Glasgow Evening Times when she was 15 years old. She was a well- known Scottish actress appearing in numerous radio, stage, film and TV roles and wrote various books the most notable being “Shoes were for Sunday”.
Molly also appeared in the TV series Rentaghost as Hazel the McWitch and also appeared in Life with the Lyons. Her accent was also in demand for television commercials, notably in a long-running series in which she appeared extolling the virtues of a kitchen cleaner.
Molly was named Scotswoman of the Year in 2000.
When she died she bequeathed her estate of nearly £2 million to various charities including the old and poor people of Springburn.