A Celebration of Mountain Culture in the Outdoor Capital of the UK

2009 Winner

Richard Else - Recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture 2009

On Friday 13th March 2009, award-winning filmmaker Richard Else became the second person whose contribution to mountaineering and Mountain Culture is recognised by the prestigious Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture. As a world-renowned filmmaker and documentary producer Richard has been the eyes and ears for millions of viewers across Britain and internationally. His pioneering approach to filming in remote locations has enabled viewers to gain an insight into the most thrilling climbs, harshest weather conditions and the breathtaking energy of peaks from Patagonia to the Himalaya.

Richard Else becomes the second winner of the award, set up by the Highland Mountain Culture Association Ltd, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival and sponsored by Rio Tinto Alcan, to promote mountain culture within Scotland and beyond. The annual award celebrates the achievements and accomplishments of one inspiring individual and their outstanding contributions to Scotland’s mountains, encompassing sport, theatre, art, photography, film and literature.

Richard is a multi award winner with films such as Wild Climbs, made for the BBC in Britain, which has won a total of 11 awards worldwide. Another of his films, The Edge, has been described by the Daily Mail as a ‘perfect documentary’ and received a Scottish BAFTA. It was later described by the then culture minister, Chris Smith, as one of the ten most important programmes made for television. These are just a tip of the iceberg; Richard’s BBC investigation into nuclear power won him a Clarion Award recognising best practice in communicating the importance of corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, social inclusion and ethical debate.

Richard Else said: ‘I’m honoured to receive this award and think it is vitally important in a wider understanding of why mountains and the culture surrounding them are so important. All of the films I have made are, in one way or another, a celebration of these special places. In Scotland we should understand that our wild mountain landscapes are of international importance and we all have a duty to preserve them for future generations. I’m delighted we have so many individuals and organisations who share that aim, including the Nevis Partnership and the John Muir Trust, but we need to be constantly vigilant if we are to protect these fragile environments. They are the crown jewels of Scotland.’

Today Richard continues as series producer of his own creation, BBC Scotland’s monthly primetime television series, The Adventure Show, that in its first series, was short-listed for a Royal Television Society award. He is also currently the executive in charge of BBC Scotland’s most ambitious climbing outside broadcast in four decades and the world’s first of its type in high definition / surround sound.

Richard has a parallel academic career. He is currently a Professorial Fellow at St Chad’s College, Durham University, where he is involved in using the media to promote social justice, including working with Britain’s first Fair Trade Organisation, Traidcraft, and is currently jointly authoring a report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on poverty and the media. He is also a regular visiting member of faculty at the Banff Centre in Canada.

Based in the shadow of the Cairngorms Richard is co-author of four books on climbing and wilderness travel. Richard has brought the beauty of the great outdoors to millions whether they’re in quiet suburbia or city centre high rises and his dedication to his craft has captured rugged wilderness’ around the world in all their glorious detail. Thanks to Richard’s work inhospitable places including Baffin Island in winter, the Himalaya, the Canadian Rockies, the Yukon, and the European Alps are now recognisable to outdoor and armchair enthusiasts alike.

Mike Pescod, Chairman of the Highland Mountain Culture Association, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival, said: ‘Mountains have always inspired artists, sportspeople, conservationists, musicians, photographers and writers. Those people in our mountain community never consciously strive for recognition of their talent and commitment. We feel that this award will not only celebrate their amazing achievements and contributions but will also represent the recognition of their peers. Richard Else is an ideal winner of the award, a man who has contributed so much not just to Mountain Culture in Scotland but to people across the world. ‘By awarding one exceptional individual every year we will create a list of ambassadors who will represent the best in Mountain Culture in Scotland and beyond. We believe that the continuing success of the Fort William Mountain Festival, together with an increase in it’s significance and importance by the annual presentation of this award, will also be reflected in economic and cultural benefits to the people of Scotland, particularly those that are resident in mountain or rural communities.’

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