Donald Duff

1893 - 1968

Surgeon and mountain rescue pioneer. Born in Ross-shire and raised in Edinburgh, Duff was educated at the Royal High School in the city and read medicine at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1916. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as an officer and served in France. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1918 and spent two years in India. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1922 and held a number of positions at Craigleith Ministry of Pensions Hospital (which later became the Western General Hospital) and Leith Hospital, before moving to Salford and then Wales. Duff began climbing in Wales and became involved in mountain rescue. In 1945 he was appointed consultant surgeon in the Belford Hospital at Fort William. He joined the Scottish Mountaineering Club and soon became a founder and leader of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, Scotland's first civilian volunteer team. He designed the Duff Stretcher, light-weight stretcher that became standard equipment for recovering casualties from the hills for several decades. An example can be seen in the West Highland Museum. His training exercises in the West Highlands and his work on hypothermia helped educated many about the dangers faced in the Scottish hills. He was still actively involved in mountain rescue into his 70s.

Duff was awarded an MBE for his services to the West Highlands in 1956. The Belford Hospital was antiquated and on his recommendation it was rebuilt, with the new hospital opening shortly after his retirement in 1959.

He died in Oban. Surgeon's Gully in Glen Nevis was named in his honour.

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