… Bob Morland, 1937 – 2016 …
More sadness for Scottish rallying. Bob Morland passed away on the night of 23rd November, peacefully and with his family around him. He had been fighting cancer since June 2015, although many would be hard pushed to believe it. He was relentlessly cheery and upbeat although his appearances at rallies became less frequent as the illness and its various treatments took their toll on occasions.
For the past 12 years he was Team Faulkner and Foy’s mascot, but more than that. He prepared meticulously detailed Service Plans for Mike and Peter and ran Chase or Management Car as often as he could manage.
His own competition career was behind him, but it didn’t stop him taking an interest in the sport and a sporting interest in the many friends he made over the years.
He was full of stories and some of them were quite long. If he managed to catch you, even when you were in a hurry, you knew you were going to be late, no matter what. You were stuck till the end of the tale or the punch line. He had a terrific memory but that was what made his stories, even the long winded ones, so interesting.
He also had an embarrassingly good memory. Things which I had thought long forgotten (and should remain forgotten) he would recall with mischievous relish.
It all started for him way back in 1964.
After school at Dumfries Academy, he completed an Engineering course at Dumfries Technical College in 1952 following which he started work with the Carnation evaporated milk factory in Dumfries and although he was a rally fan at the time his active involvement didn’t start until he met Derek Attwood in 1964.
Derek was one of the top rally navigators at the time and was running classes to teach newcomers. Bob teamed up with Walter MacDonald and a lifelong passion commenced. Not only was he a quick learner, he was quick to master the ‘tricks of the trade’. For instance, he was known to wear three wristwatches on occasion – one with the correct time, one running a minute slow, and one a minute fast. If trying to cajole a Marshal into giving him a different time or confusing him with ‘science’ failed to work then he could produce a watch to match his claim!
He did try his hand at rally driving once, but that ended with the car on its ear near Lochmaben cemetery. After that he stuck to navigating and expanded his interests when Walter took to the forests for stage rallying.
Over the years he navigated for innumerable drivers young and old and always keen to help the youngsters. In addition to Walter other drivers for whom he assisted included Ivor Clark, Ian Paterson, Ricky Wheeler, Jim Doig, Richard Stewart and Harold Tweedie, in ‘Daisy’ the Daihatsu Fourtrak, to name but a few.
The nearest he ever came to ‘superstardom’ was on his own club’s stage rally, the 1988 Tweedies Daihatsu Forest Stages Rally when he and Ricky Wheeler finished second overall behind a certain Colin McRae and Alison Hamilton. This was Colin’s first ever outright victory while Murray and Mark Grierson were third. Given such exalted company, you’d have thought Bob had won the World Championship.
He didn’t confine himself to domestic events either. On the 1998 Manx International he finished 29th overall and 4th in class with Arron Cruickshank in an Opel Corsa GSi and in 2002 he finished 4th o/a and 3rd in the class in the Circuit of Ireland Historic class with Ivor Clark and his Hillman Avenger and then finished 8th o/a and 3rd in class in the Killarney Rally of the Lakes regaling all and sundry with the fact that they’d need a calculator to work out the combined ages of Bob, Ivor and the Avenger. It wasn’t so much the Historic class for which they were eligible, it was the Prehistoric class.
Aside from competition he did his bit for the club, serving on the Committee of South of Scotland Car Club and undertaking Timekeeping duties on many events. Less well known is the number of rally cars he built himself over the years, and often helped out other friends and club members to build their own cars or when after-rally ‘repairs’ were needed. And if they couldn’t get ‘the bits’, Bob used his own engineering dexterity to manufacture or fabricate what was needed. Very rarely was he stuck.
Of course it’s not just us who will miss him, his sons, Kenneth and Graeme and daughter Joyce and 9 grandchildren will be bereft. As will his partner, Chris and her two grandchildren. Bob doted on the youngsters using his engineering expertise in the building of complicated Lego structures and also devised a novel way of teaching them maths – using peas, sweetcorn and chocolate buttons!
Rally service areas will be quieter now after Bob’s passing and we’ll all miss the hand on the arm and the “Wait till I till ye this” which then led on to some sporting or political point he wanted to raise or pass on. And also the permanent sense of mischief. There were occasions when he pulled an MSA Blue Book out of his pocket to reinforce a point of view, pointing out the appropriate regulation to the objector. It often took quite a long while for the objector to notice that the Blue Book in question was 10 years out of date!
Nope that wasn’t a merry twinkle in his eye. That was a permanent sparkle of mischief. They don’t make them like that any more, and the sport is all the poorer for it.
Note: Three weeks ago, Bob sent me a letter. I have permission to print it here. I also had permission to ‘trim’ it, but nope. He wrote it as it was, so I left it as it was. And just so you know, he called me ‘Faither’ (hence the letter’s intro) and I called him ‘Gramps’. This is his letter:
Jist thocht you micht want a wee read:
The End of an era … The Story So Far …
In June 2015 I caught what I thought was just another chest infection.
Went to Doctor, tested all around, arranged chest x ray the following day.
Around 1.30am that same night I could hardly breathe so it was up to A&E at Dumfries’s Royal finest.
Within minutes the x ray revealed that my left lung was surrounded with water or some kind of fluid, so admitted to ward 7. First thing in the morning two doctors came and inserted a drain tube into my lung space through from my back. They took out 500ml at a time until, 4 days later they had extracted over 3 litres of fluid. Samples of the fluid were sent to the laboratory to be tested along with other body fluids gathered from various parts of my body. At this point the doctors had their suspicions that I had cancer. A biopsy later confirmed that I did in fact have a Squamous cancer tumour in my left lung measuring 13.5 centimetres, about the size of my open hand, and I’ve got big hands. Ach well I suppose 40 Benson & Hedges every day for 50 years doesn’t entitle one to complain but I enjoyed every one of them. One of the tests was what is called a PET scan, where they inject you with radioactive material which shows up the cancer better. Another one is the CT scan, again while that is happening they put in some highlighter through a vein. The tumour is on the underside of my lung and very close to my heart so the doctors were very concerned about using radiotherapy to treat it, it had to be very accurately aimed, but they managed it.
After what appeared to me to be a very long time, about 5 weeks, although I now know that this is quite normal, but it did seem a long time without any action. This allows the team that are going to try to cure you to decide, first of all, what kind of cancer you have got, and how are they going to treat it. In my case it was to be six weekly sessions of chemotherapy and 20 shots of radiotherapy. The chemo was administered at Dumfries, interrupted by me getting yet another chest infection. I will say this, the cancer I can handle, there’s no pain, just a lot of inconvenience, it is the treatment that really knocks you back.
Make no mistake having cancer treatment is a very serious business and will make you very seriously ill at times. One has got to be really quite fit and try to stay healthy, especially keeping hydrated and eating good food to withstand the rigours of being treated. At This time one is very susceptible to infection as your resistance is dragged down to rock bottom.
The Radiotherapy was done at Edinburgh Royal where I stayed for 4 weeks Monday to Friday, home for the weekend. At this time I stayed at Milton of Campsie with Chris it being much nearer than being at home. During the 4 weeks of radiotherapy I had neither been up nor down, but about 10 days after coming out of hospital I was really unwell and finished up back in hospital requiring a blood transfusion.
After a few weeks my first scan showed that the tumour had been marginally reduced in size and had stopped growing. Subsequent scans have shown that the tumour is now just dead tissue but still there around my heart. Unfortunately on this scan it was discovered that there were two spots on my right lung and a spot on my right kidney. More chemotherapy was the treatment prescribed and off we went again. Well they must have used some really powerful stuff because it absolutely floored me this time. Back into Dumfries infirmary for another blood transfusion to replace missing white platelets. The next scan showed that the latest chemo had not done what they expected and the tumours are still growing away.
At This stage I decided not to have any more chemo for the summer and take a break from it all. My oncologist agreed, and because of my bad breathing started me on a course of steroids for 6 weeks. These drugs really did help me and I was doing fine, feeling good, improved breathing, eating well and drinking plenty of water.
Then one night at Chris’s drinking a cup of tea , BANG severe pains in my chest, a heart attack. Carted off to Glasgow Royal this time where they tested me up hill and down dale and decided that I had had a small heart attack. Well if that was a small heart attack I don’t think I would care to have a big one. Again it was not all straight forward as they had a suspicion that I had an infection lingering somewhere. After numerous blood tests they let me go home, but I was not at all well and doctor advised a visit to Dumfries infirmary again. Sure enough the infection showed up in the form of diarrhoea and some stomach bug which they allowed to run its course and eventually went away. More new drugs were prescribed and off I was sent home. The new drugs worked a treat and I was feeling really good and healthy. So much so that the dosage was halved and then eventually stopped as I was having problems sleeping.
Then one morning I was feeling very tired and dizzy and could not concentrate at all. Chris phoned and I sounded ok to her. Kenneth phoned and he reckoned I was talking gibberish, he got Joyce to phone and she said the same talking silliness, Graeme phoned to hear me being very confused and talking nonsence. Kenneth arrived and decided to phone the doctor who advised a trip to Dumfries A&E. I just could not stop myself from falling asleep, while the doctor was examining me, while waiting our turn at A&E, while waiting to be taken to the reception ward. After a couple of days of investigatory tests and examinations it was decided that this was the elusive infection, in fact a chest infection, I did not know that an infection could cause so much damage. By this time I was passing blood through my back passage and the doctors were very concerned for my life. Pills and potions followed pills and potions and eventually the bleeding stopped. Now I need to be built up to health again so that I can go home and get on with the rest of my life. During this last 18 months I feel that this old body of mine has been brought back from the grim reaper’s scythe at least 4 times, it must be made of stern stuff, but I do think it is wearing a bit thin. However we’ll build her back up again and get on with it. Just like a broken rally car.
As far as rally cars go I have decided that I am going to retire from building or repairing rally cars. I can still drive or navigate chase cars from now on, and do a bit of paper work. So there is going to be a big sale. All the equipment and tools from the big shed, everything from the big wooden shed, and then sell the shed, and all the bits and pieces from the garage, aye and maybe even the house. I have bits and pieces for Sunbeam Alpines, Hillman Hunters, Ford Escorts, Ford Fiestas and Mitsubishi Lancers. Hand tools for engineering, joinery, bricklayer etc. etc.