In Scotland, it feels like we spend most of our lives looking out of windows at grey skies and rain, yet very few of us win awards for our weather watching efforts, except our volunteer rainfall observers.
Volunteer rainfall observers go that extra mile, and not only watch the weather but venture out in every element, to measure every last drop of rain, that so frequently pours down.
Observers take daily measurements of rainfall accumulations using a rain gauge and submit this data to SEPA on a monthly basis for processing and entry into the Met Office rainfall archive. There are 383 rainfall monitoring sites in Scotland and 146 of these sites are run by voluntary members of the public, also known as ‘rainfall observers’.
Fourteen of the longest serving observers in Scotland were rewarded for their dedication at an awards ceremony in Glasgow in October. The award winning weather watchers have clocked up an impressive 509 years service between them, and some observers have been recording rainfall for nearly half a century.
The event was also used to highlight the importance of rainfall recording ahead of a national drive to recruit new observers, which is due to begin over the coming months. James Curran SEPA chief executive said: “The voluntary rainfall observers provide an invaluable service and it is important we recognise their outstanding commitment and dedication.
The information they collect is crucial to a number of nationwide services and the awards are a way of showing our appreciation to the longest serving observers.
By raising awareness of this service, we are encouraging members of the public to step forward and help us increase our pool of rainfall observers.”
The service our long serving rainfall observers provide is priceless, but we need more people to get involved to help maintain, and expand our network of rainfall observers across the country and continue to collect these vital figures.
To see what went on at the awards, take a look at our video produced by our Young Scot Modern Apprentice, Ciaran McGimpsey.
A full list of the award winners is available below:
|Name||Gauge / Location||Length of Service|
|Peter Kennedy||Doonholm Gauge, Alloway, Ayr||37 years (in family for 114 years)|
|Jim & Susan MacColl||Dunlop Gauge, Dunlop, Ayrshire||15 years (in family for 60 years)|
|Mr Mark Turnbull*||Kingsbarn Gauge, St Andrews, Fife||14 years (in family for 54 years)|
|Rodney Thomson||Samuelston Gauge, Haddington, East Lothian||49 years|
|Mr Robert Archibald Greenshields*||Eliock House Gauge, Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire||49 years|
|Norman Pedgrift||StrathallanSchool Gauge, Bridge of Earn, Perthshire||45 years|
|Ian & Evelyn Crombie*||Westhall Gauge, Cupar, Fife||44 years|
|Alastair Work*||Auchinner Gauge, Comrie, Perthshire||43 years|
|George Gall||Gateside No.2 Gauge, Gateside, Fife||41 years|
|Bishop Louden||Quinloch Farm Gauge, Blanefield, South Ayrshire||39 years|
|Fay & Robin Halliday||Port William Gauge, Port William, Dumfriesshire||37 years|
|Ian Weir||Dungrainach Gauge, Appin, Argyll||35 years|
|Ian Rose*||Cortachy Gauge, Cortachy, Angus||35 years|
|Mrs Margaret Findlay*||Prestonpans Gauge, Prestonpans, East Lothian||26 years|
Among those honoured was Peter Kennedy who has recorded rainfall at the Doonholm gauge in Alloway, Ayrshire, for 37 years, carrying on a family tradition which began back in 1898 – over 114 years ago.
Peter explained: “My great grandfather started the whole thing off and then I took over from my father. I feel the longer you are taking the readings, the more they make sense and I have started to notice general patterns in the weather. If it’s drier at the start of the year we seem to get a lot of rainfall at the end of the year, which seems to be true this year as it’s started and forgot to stop.”
Also, picking up an award was Norman Pedgrift and Susan MacColl. Norman has recorded rainfall at the Strathallan School gauge for 45 years and writes weather reports for his local newspaper the Perthshire Advertiser.
Susan MacColl, of Dunlop Ayrshire, began recording rainfall in memory of her late brother Alasdair, a trained meteorologist and dedicated rainfall observer.
Speaking of her experience Mrs MacColl said: “My brother taught me a lot about cloud structures, which led to my interest in the weather. We wanted to continue reading the gauge as a tribute to him and also because it provides important information which can help people. Our granddaughter also helps us take the readings, so I hope she might be one of a new generation of volunteers.”