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Events > 2007

The 2007 Wainwright Society Memorial Lecture
Saturday 20 October 2007, at Rheged

The fifth Wainwright Memorial Lecture given by
Cameron McNeish, editor of TGO magazine

The 2007 Wainwright Memorial Lecture began with an introduction by our Chairman, Eric Robson, which included the marking of a significant milestone for the Wainwright Society in its fifth year of existence. Eric welcomed member number 1000, Margaret Blowey from Cheshire, who was presented with a boxed set of AW’s Lakeland Sketchbook series, these were generously provided by John Nicoll of Frances Lincoln Pub

Formal business concluded, Eric then introduced the guest speaker for the evening and a capacity audience in the IMAX Movie Theatre at Rheged gave a warm welcome to Cameron McNeish, a highly regarded journalist, author, broadcaster, Editor of The Great Outdoors Magazine and an expert on walking and mountaineering in the wilder places of Britain and the rest of the globe.

Peter Linney Society Secretary welcomes Cameron McNeish

Cameron began with a self-effacing reflection on the effects of the ageing process on one’s mental capacities hence, he explained, his use of notes; but this tool certainly did not detract from an hour long presentation that was full of energy and humour, passion for the outdoors, and thought provoking insights into the issues that impact on the high places loved by many in Great Britain. 

Cameron recalled how he and his countrymen once poured scorn on hillwalkers south of the Border, notably those in the Lake District, with their dependence on guidebooks to bring them safely to, and back from mountain summits. Tougher sorts, he argued, placed their faith in a map and compass. However, he confessed that he has now written guidebooks of his own, and the Munro baggers of Scotland are very well served by a number of publishers and authors!

The modern trend for joining the ranks of eco-campaigners was also discussed by Cameron, with a nod back to the days when individuals were motivated by real conviction and knowledge of the issues, rather than he argued, simply jumping on a bandwagon to be fashionable. He brought this home with a humorous recollection of an experience during filming with a TV production crew on a mountain top. The intricate manouevres required when making use of the eco-lavatorial facilities were to say the least challenging!

Of course, Alfred Wainwright also came under Cameron’s scrutiny with reflections on the now well-known aspects of AW’s first marriage and his personality. Cameron concluded his presentation with the acknowledgement that AW was undoubtedly a skilled and gifted writer; this was evidenced with a stirring reading from AW’s introductory notes to Book One of his Pictorial Guides.

After well deserved and enthusiastic applause Cameron McNeish was invited to become an Honourary Member of the Wainwright Society by our Secretary, Peter Linney, and was duly presented with the now familiar little green badge. Our sincere thanks to Cameron for entertaining us so memorably on the night.

Colleen, Ann, Jayne and Christine on the Society stand

Thanks are also due to the formidable duo of Ann Parnham and Colleen Harrison who managed the Society’s display stand with assistance from Christine Stainthorpe and Jayne Hardy.

Peter Hardy - Member 9 

Wainwright Memorial Lecture
reviewed by Andy Littleton Membership 18

It was encouraging to see a full house at this year’s Wainwright Memorial Lecture, particularly as it clashed with the much-vaunted Rugby World Cup Final.

Cameron McNeish proved a good choice for the Centenary Lecture. His reputation as a writer and campaigner preceded his appearance and, no doubt, swelled the numbers.

He began in light-hearted vein, a sort of high-altitude Billy Connolly, which loosened the audience in readiness for the more serious content. Mr McNeish’s blunt and forthright style came through as he warmed to his subject. He was critical of the aloof and closed-shop attitude of some mountaineering clubs and groups. He felt that many ‘green’ issues are too trendy and shallow, having little planning or thought.

He seemed to struggle to place AW in terms of personality and writer and found it difficult to make direct comparisons with others of the genre.

What did shine through was his appreciation and admiration of a man who, like himself, had a passion for the fells and mountains. He identified with and lauded AW’s single-minded perseverance in producing the ‘Guides’. He recognised the value of the books in that they have become a Bible to many thousands of people. AW’s enthusiasm has rubbed off on Lakeland lovers throughout the world.

Finally he identified the works as a ‘love-poem’ to AW’s beloved Lake District.

Thanks to Mr McNeish for an entertaining and thought provoking evening. It was entirely fitting that he was offered honorary membership of the Society.