Hillfoots-born writer and broadcaster Dr. Rennie McOwan founded Friends of the Ochils in 1992. The catalyst for the creation of the organization was his article in The Glasgow Herald (24th October 1992) called ‘Tramping the Green Hills of Home’. This Ochils-based article centered on the history of the hills and discussed their preservation from the encroachment of modern civilization. The article concluded with Rennie stating ‘Perhaps it is time that a Friends of the Ochils organization was set up?’
Following the appearance of Rennie’s article he was inundated with calls supporting such an initiative and on Thursday 5th November 1992 the following letter from Rennie appeared in ‘The Herald’s’ letters’ page:
I have had letters and phone calls to my home following my article about the Ochils (October 24) wanting the floated idea of a Friends of the Ochils followed up in a practical way.
Might I seek the courtesy of your columns to ask any other interested individuals or organisations to make contact with me and I and others will get much pleasure in seeing what can be done.
Yours Rennie McOwan
Rennie organized and publicized an inaugural meeting later that November. The location was Alloa Town Hall and, diffidently, Rennie had laid out about 30 chairs. A founder member remembers that ‘It transpired that Rennie’s idea to form a body to protect and watch over the Ochils struck a chord with many and a multitude descended on the venue to such an extent that there weren’t enough seats to go round and people were standing round the sides and on the landing outside the room. Friends of the Ochils was formed that night.
Rennie McOwan is a writer, broadcaster and outdoorsman. He holds an honorary doctorate from Stirling University; the Outdoor Writer’s Guild Golden Eagle award for his contribution to outdoor access issues and the Provost of Stirling’s Civic Award for Arts and Culture. Rennie is a former Vice President of the Scottish Ramblers; Founder and Life President of the Stirling Literary Society and co-founder of the Stirling Members Group for the National Trust for Scotland and of course Honorary President of Friends of the Ochils.
** Dr. Rennie McOwan passed away on 2 October 2018. An obituary written by Bob Chaundy pays tribute to him.