Tom Price, who was BMC president from 1982 to 1985, died on Tuesday aged 94. During a long and active life, Tom made an important contribution to the outdoor world, both as an educator and explorer.
As a scholarship boy he won a place at Liverpool University, where he joined the university climbing club.
During WWII he was drafted into the Royal Navy as an Able Bodied Seaman, and he ended commanding a destroyer at D-Day.
He fetched up in Cumberland after the war, teaching English at Workington Grammar School, but he was also the cox of the local lifeboat. He then took over as Warden of Eskdale Outward Bound School succeeding Eric Shipton. In the late 1950s he was one of three mountaineers on an expedition to South Georgia led by explorer and professional broadcaster/actor Duncan Carse (the voice of Special Agent Dick Barton on BBC radio); the other two being Luis Baume and Johnny Cunningham.
Tom later moved to Yorkshire as an advisor to the old West Yorkshire Education Authority. He wrote some outstanding essays about climbing and outdoor education, including one that was widely published in the climbing press, 'Bridging the Gap'.
In 1973 he became the Dean of Bingley Teacher Training College, where he was instrumental in promoting outdoor activities. His students included Pete Livesey, Bonnie Masson, Jill Lawrence and Pete Gomersall.
In 1982 he was elected BMC president at the AGM in Ambleside, and served until 1985. This period coincided with one of the most significant events in the BMC’s history; the adoption of a new constitution which enfranchised individual members and enshrined the principle of one member one vote. He also sat on the Plas y Brenin Management Committee.
Tom accomplished many challenging expeditions, including a ski traverse of the Alps with Swiss mountaineer Andre Roch, and a canoe traverse of Canada with George Spencely. Besides being a keen rock climber, he was a fine water colourist and writer.
Tom was still active late into his life. Dennis Gray recalls meeting him last year in Threlkeld, where Tom lived in a 300-year-old cottage, just as Tom was leaving to traverse the Catbells ridge.
Although he was quiet and modest, he had a fine sense of humour, and thus was a good public speaker. In his autobiography Travail So Gladly Spent, he missed out writing about his war experiences, because he did not think anyone would be interested in reading about these events! It is a very fine book and typical of the man.
Tom’s funeral will be held at Distington Hall Crematorium in Cumbria on Wednesday 14 August at 11.15am. The crematorium (post code CA14 4QY) is approximately 3 miles south of Workington.
Thanks to Dennis Gray, BMC General Secretary (1974-1989), who knew Tom well, for providing the above summary of Tom’s life.
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