Allan MacDougall - 48 years of dedicated service
Allan MacDougall has been awarded the Imperial Service Medal for 48 years of dedicated service. Allan was awarded the medal at Glenmore Forest Park after retiring last year. Working in Glenmore since the 1980s, he has welcomed thousands of visitors, sharing his incredible knowledge of the place.
Allan was brought up in Strathmashie and joined the Forestry Commission on 15 July 1974, when he was just 17 years old. Working in the squad under Forester Jim Ogilvie, his very first job was cutting grass and bracken to allow young trees to establish — while also carefully avoiding nipping the tops of the trees with the hook used! Increased mechanisation in the 70s and 80s was one of the many changes to forestry that Allan experienced:
When in the late 70s I was part of the felling squad, one day we were shown a film about this new machine called a harvester. After seeing how many trees it could fell compared with the chainsaw, the reaction was 'Well, that’s us out of a job then!'
In the 80s, Allan began working and later living in Glenmore as his Strathmashie beat was extended to include Inshriach and Glenmore. From 1988, moving on from the felling squad, he worked between the campsite, shop and visitor centre, before moving full time to the visitor centre where he worked until his retirement in 2022.
Allan has been instrumental in sharing the history of the area and preserving links with the past. He has worked particularly hard to continue the connection between Norwegian forces (Kompani Linge) and Glenmore.
The surrounding hills, forest and beach at Loch Morlich were a training ground during World War II for Kompani Linge. Their training here was later put into practice in daring raids in Nazi occupied Norway. A particular highlight for Allan was in 2012 when he met Kompani Linge's Joachim Rønneberg, who led the famous "Operation Gunnerside". This remarkable mission involved blowing up a hydro plant at Vemork in Norway to prevent the production of "heavy water" that was central to the Nazis' efforts to develop an atomic bomb.
Allan’s passion and knowledge brought the many stories of Glenmore to life, with colleagues and visitors given insights that couldn’t be found in any guidebook. He still enjoys catching up with many of the friends he has made through work and believes that, for all of the changes he's seen over the years, some things have stayed the same:
One of the main things that has not changed for me is the team spirit — even though we have had a lot of changes thrown at us, it is important to keep together. I believe it is a great thing to get along with your colleagues, both professionally and socially, and I know from experience, this has helped me in the past.
Allan is widely respected in the community. Through his knowledge of the infrastructure around Glenmore and generosity with his time, he has quietly helped many people over the years. Allan leaves behind a huge legacy and recognition of his commitment and care for Glenmore is very well deserved.
I was quite shocked when I heard the news. I feel very honoured and when I saw the medal I thought, ‘Wow, this is really something’. I am very grateful to the people that recommended me, it is great to feel appreciated and I thought when I saw it, ‘I must have been doing something right'.
It will take pride of place in my home but I see it as a tribute to Glenmore and the wonderful people that I’ve worked with over the years. I was really just doing my job and helping to look after the place and the people who visited, sometimes from all over the world. I was just a small part of the team that welcomed them, some year after year, to that glorious part of the Highlands.