Friday 27 May 2011

Farewell to Roger Smith: TGO Challenge Dinner 2011

Last night a dinner for the TGO Challenge coast-to-coast walk across the Scottish Highlands was held in the Park Hotel in Montrose, as it is every year on the last Thursday of the event. This year was special though as Roger Smith was standing down after 20 years as co-ordinator. Roger has actually been involved with the Challenge since it began in 1980, when he was the first editor of the then new walking magazine The Great Outdoors, and has stamped his enthusiasm, organisation and personality on the event. He will be missed - though happily he is intending to stay involved and hopefully now free to do his own third crossing. As usual Roger praised all the 2011 Challengers and gave awards to those who had completed their tenth crossing and to others for special achievements. This over it was Roger's turn to be praised by a succession of speakers, both colleagues at TGO and Challengers plus Hamish Brown, the originator of the Challenge himself. Gifts were showered on him, toasts drunk, hands clapped until sore. The outpourings of warmth, affection and sheer love showed just how he is regarded by all involved with the Challenge. It was a pleasure to be there and to be involved.

The photo shows Roger Smith speaking at the dinner with new Challenge Co-ordinator John Manning opposite him, current editor Emily Rodway immediately to his right and Hamish Brown standing in the background.


  1. Very sorry I never made it as far as Montrose to meet Roger in person, but who knows, perhaps I will meet him on a crossing some day! As a first timer the help and support I got from Roger, who was also my vetter, was invaluable. A thoroughly well organised event, and whilst they are big boots to fill I'm sure John Manning will do a superb job. All the best to Roger and to John.

  2. A very appropriate tribute to Roger, who was always great to work with when I was involved in the Challenge a few years ago. Mr Manning certainly has some big boots to fill (metaphorically at least)!

  3. A fine and emotional finish to a memorable Challenge this year, harder for some than others due to the weather and doubtless the cause of some sleepless nights for Roger as he and his team tracked us through the storms. The very genuine outpouring of affection made it clear that the TGO Challenge is far more than simply an annual hiking holiday for everyone involved. A privilege to participate and to be there to toast Roger as he prepared to step down.

  4. I am going to miss Roger dearly the next time I come to Scotland for the Challenge. He was incredibly helpful and kind to me last year. I wish him all the best in his future travels and will treasure my memories of him in Challenge Control.

  5. What a great write-up, Chris.

    Young Manning has huge shoes to fill - but there again, he doe has big feet himself!

    Let's hope Uncle Roger gets to do another Challenge!