Jim McColm – SSDT Passes away

Jim McColm (on the right) over-sees the start with rider Roy Kerr at the 1981 SSDT, watched by Brian Higgins and observer/official, Colin Cass.

James ‘Jim’ McColm 1929 – 2017

It is with great sadness that Trials Guru reports the passing of a stalwart of the Scottish Six Days Trial, the former SSDT Secretary, James ‘Jim’ McColm, following a short illness, on Monday 13th November, 2017 aged 87 years.

Jim was well-known to all riders and officials who took part in the SSDT from 1970 to 1995 as the ‘face of the Scottish’, being the man who was ultimately responsible for all the administration duties of the annual event.

McColm’s full-time ‘day job’ was with the Forth Bridge Joint Board at South Queensferry as their Accountant/Office Manager. This organisation was responsible for the administration and management of the Forth Road Bridge. He used his administrative skills to best effect both in his paid employment and with the SSDT committee.

Jim started with the Edinburgh & District Motor Club Limited (the E&D) as their Club Steward at their headquarters at 28 Nelson Street, Edinburgh in 1961. In 1963, Jim became the Secretary’s Assistant to Tommy Melville, who was the then SSDT Secretary until 1969. McColm was to ‘learn his craft’ from Melville over a period of six years.

McColm took over as SSDT Secretary from Melville in 1970 and oversaw many changes to the SSDT in his twenty-five years in this position, including the move away from paths to open moorland, which was pioneered by Clerk of Course, Jimmy Mulvie.

Jim McColm was presented in 1984 with the annual ‘Jim Clark Memorial Award’ by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, in recognition of his services to motor sport, an award which gave him great pleasure.

In 1992 the Edinburgh & District MC was to organize a round of the FIM World Trials Championships at Glen Nevis, again McColm would be in charge of the event administration with AC-U man, Dave Willoughby as the overall clerk of course being FIM accredited. Jim travelled to the German round the previous year, to see how they administered a WTC event.

In 1995, Jim published his book, “Six Days in May” which is a compilation of anecdotes and information covering the years 1970 to 1994 and included all the SSDT results for those years. It was never re-published and is a collectors item for enthusiasts of this most famous of trials.

Jim was never a competitor himself, but having been led into the job by the experienced Tommy Melville, he enjoyed what he did for the Scottish Six Days immensely. The most Jim would see of a SSDT was usually on the first day when the trial started and finished in Edinburgh, with regular stop-offs at the ‘Edramucky’ section on the slopes of Ben Lawers near, Killin to take in some of the action before heading up to Fort William where he would spend much of his time in the SSDT office. He was out before the first man left the Parc Ferme in Fort William on the Monday morning, then it was back to the then Milton Hotel for breakfast, before spending hours that stretched into the next morning working in the office.

Jim was quoted as saying: “When Tommy Melville learned that I could read and write, he invited me to help him in the SSDT office with the administrative work”. His first job at the SSDT was tallying up the results which Jim described as: “the most boring job in the world.”

When he retired from the position of SSDT Secretary in 1995, Jim handed over the reins to Dundee’s Ally Findlay, but Jim continued to be involved with the Motor Club, by becoming Company Secretary and Treasurer, a position he held until recently.

Jim McColm also continued to be involved with the E&Ds’ other event, the Pre’65 Scottish, and was still a director of the E&D until March 2017.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat paid a personal tribute to Jim McColm:

I first met Jim when I was at first year at secondary school, when my late father, Arnott took me to the hallowed halls of 28 Nelson Street, where he jokingly introduced me to Jim by saying, ‘…can you ensure my son John can have a ride in the SSDT when he becomes of age?’. Jim laughed out aloud and replied ‘I certainly will Arnott!’. He then shook my hand firmly and from that moment on, Jim not only remembered my name, but who I was. As the years went by, we became good friends when I acted as an observer, then rider and eventually when I became SSDT Secretary in 2001, we were colleagues on the committee. After that we were co-directors on the E&D board for a further two years. We have been friends for forty-seven years and therefore I am saddened greatly by Jim’s passing. This is the end of an era.

Only a week before he died, the E&D presented Jim with a glass award, duly inscribed to recognize the work he had done for not only the motor club, but the two events over the years he was involved with them.

Jim leaves a widow Heather, daughter Frances, grandson Kyle, grand-daughter Kara and daughter-in-law Brenda, the widow of Jim’s late son, Kevin. Jim was also a Great Grandfather to Ailsa and Molly.

Jim’s Funeral was conducted by a humanist on Friday, 24th November at 11am at the Lorimer Chapel of Warriston Crematorium, 36 Warriston Road, Edinburgh.

It came as a surpise to many that Jim was brought up in Stevenston, Ayrshire as many had thought he was an Edinburgh born man. He spent time in the Navy and was to be posted overseas when a medical examination discovered an ulser, so that put paid to his time on the ocean wave. He was transferred to Rosyth in Fife and it was here that he met his wife Heather.

Jim was a big fan of James Bond movies and it is believed that he did impressions of the first ‘Bond’, Edinburgh born actor Sean Connery.

A great practical joker in both private life and at work, Jim always tried to see the funny side of things.

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