IAT Scotland's Tom Stevenson Awarded BEM
On June 20 after some delay, Tom Stevenson, project manager for Scotland's Mull of Galloway Trail and member of the Rotary Club of Stranraer, became the first IAT representative to receive a British Empire Medal. The presentation was made by Lord Lieutenant of Wigtown Dr John Ross at a Rotary meeting at North West Castle Hotel, Stranraer, and was attended by many of the members who helped create the Mull of Galloway Trail.
Left to right, Jimmy Begg (Ayrshire Coastal Path), Robert Clark ( Coordinator Mull of Galloway Trail), Tom Stevenson, Ronnie Irving (President Rotary Club of Stranraer) and Lord Lieutenant of Wigtown Dr John Ross holding the new sign to be erected at the Mull of Galloway which identifies the Firth o Clyde Rotary Trail and International Appalachian Trail and gives walking distances
Left to right, John Ross, Jimmy Begg, Tom Stevenson, Robert Clark and Ronnie Irving at the information board adjacent to the Tourist Office at Stranraer waterfront. The IAT Scotland logo is located bottom right.
In May, Tom and his wife Sheila attended a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, which was also attended by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and many other members of the Royal Family. All recipients of the BEM are invited to a Royal Garden Party and while residents of Scotland normally go to Edinburgh, Tom and his wife - who previously attended an event at Holyrood Palace - were able to arrange travel to London. They remained for four days and visited the Houses of Parliament (where they saw processions going to and from the State Opening of Parliament) and Royal Mews directly opposite their hotel on Buckingham Palace Road.
Tom and his wife Sheila on the grounds of Buckingham Palace
Tom first found out about the nomination in November 2015, but kept it secret from family and friends - except his wife - until December 30. "I was surprised and delighted when I found out," he said. "I hope it will be good for both the trail and the club."
Tom with IAT Scotland thru-hiker Cotton Joe Norman at the Mull of Galloway in October 2013
The Mull of Galloway Trail continues to be well used and the number of website visitors keeps increasing every year. During 2015 the site had over 15,000 unique visitors and over 1,000,000 hits. This spring and summer Tom and his crew were busy doing maintenance and improvements on the trail, with the local Council agreeing to cover many of the costs.
Tom in the driver's seat on the Mull of Galloway Trail
In May 2015, the Rotary Clubs of Stranraer, Ayr, Gourock, and Allander gathered at Milngavie to inaugurate the Firth o Clyde Rotary Trail, a partnership of the Mull of Galloway Trail, Ayrshire Coastal Path and Clyde Coastal Path.
Tom addressing the crowd and dignitaries at the FoCRT Grand Opening in Milngavie
At Milngavie, the 161 mile (266km) IAT Scotland route through the Lowlands meets the West Highland Way, and continues north to Fort William and the Cape Wrath Trail.
Congratulations Tom Stevenson BEM!
... and the Mull of Galloway Trail and Stranraer Rotary!