Former Cabinet Minister marks John Muir’s centenary year in Wild Space

Former Labour Culture Secretary, Chris Smith was among past and present Trustees of the John Muir Trust attending a reception in Pitlochy’s

Former Labour Culture Secretary, Chris Smith was among past and present Trustees of the John Muir Trust attending a reception in Pitlochy’s Wild Space on Friday 21 November.

Other guests included the last two surviving founder members of the Trust, Nigel Hawkins and Denis Mollison.

Chris – who now sits in the House of Lords as Baron Smith of Finsbury – told the gathering that he had first been elected as a Trustee over 20 years ago and said:

“The John Muir Trust is a very special organisation, which I view as being about three things.

“First looking after and stewarding some of the most precious bits of wild land in the country and ensuring it remains wild forever.

“Second, by the way the Trust manages these bits, acting as an encouragement to others, spreading good practice.

“And third, it is about advocating passionately, and arguing the case for wild land, and carrying out a rich amount of campaigning work.

“The Trust embraces for me the two main reasons why wild land is so crucial.

"It is vital for people – it provides, to use that ugly phrase, ecosystem services, which basically means understanding the value of the natural world. That is incredibly important and I wish we had more organisations who understand it.

“But it is not just material. Wild land refreshes our souls and spirit. It is a life-giving force, which none of us really understand, but it is there, it is real.

“The John Muir Trust has bridged the spiritual and material benefits of wild land.”

Chris finished by quoting from WH Murray’s Undiscovered Scotland, where the renowned mountaineering author describes the beauty of the sun setting over Loch Linnhe from Glencoe: “Murray said that, at that moment, he pitied his climbing companion ‘because he was leaving the next day for the Himalayas’.”