Father of Scottish skiing dies a month before 100th birthday

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The founder of the first ski centre in Scotland, Philip Rankin, has died aged 99.

Philip died at his home on Sunday March 12, just one month before his 100th birthday.

Born April 16, 1917, Philip lived with his parents, brother and sister in Helensburgh, where he trained as an engineer before becoming a Second World War pilot.

One evening, after a long flight, he was on his way back to his airfield in England when his aircraft was hit by German anti-aircraft guns on the island of Walcheren.

He came down in the English Channel and, on impact, was thrown out through the canopy and badly damaged his back. He was in Stoke Mandeville hospital with his serious injury and told for the best recovery he should walk uphill on skis or snowshoes.

On his return home, Philip set about finding the best place to do this in the west of Scotland. His first port of call was to the landowner of Blackmount Estate, Philip Fleming, and this was the start of a lifelong friendship both with Fleming and later his son Robin.

The Flemings readily gave permission for the erection of the proposed ski tow and have ever since supported the expansion of skiing in Glencoe. Philip persuaded his many friends in and around Glasgow to help and also enlisted the help of the Clan Mountaineering Club and the Scottish Ski Club.

And in 1955, the lift opened. Philip was the engineer, the builder and the manager and his new bride, Gudrun, a refugee from East Germany, was the ticket collector and bookkeeper.

For the full story see this Thursday’s Oban Times.