SEPA Volunteers are Winning in the Rain

date23 October 2012

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Met Office honoured a group of unsung heroes yesterday (22 October) as Scotland’s longest serving rainfall observers were presented with awards at a ceremony in Glasgow.

Hosted at the city’s Royal Concert Hall, the event saw 14 volunteers, from across the country, recognised for their long term contributions to data collection for the national rainfall archive. The event was also used to highlight the importance of rainfall recording ahead of a national drive to recruit new observers, which is due to begin over the coming months.

SEPA currently records rainfall at 383 sites across Scotland, of which 267 are registered with the Met Office, contributing to the national rainfall archive. 146 of these sites are currently run by voluntary members of the public, also known as‘rainfall observers’. Observers measure and record the accumulated rainfall from their gauge, daily, and send the data to SEPA on a monthly basis for processing and entry into its database and the national archive.

Among those honoured included Peter Kennedy who has recorded rainfall at the Doonholm gauge in Alloway, Ayrshire, for 37 years, carrying on a family tradition which began back in 1898 – over 114 years ago. Also picking up awards were: Norman Pedgrift, of Bridge of Earn, who has been recording the Strathallan School gauge for 45 years, as well as monitoring other weather data, such as wind speed and temperature, and writing weather reports for his local newspaper; and Jim and Susan MacColl, of Dunlop in Ayrshire, who have recorded the rainfall in memory of Mrs MacColl’s late brother, Alasdair, a trained meteorologist and dedicated rainfall observer. Mrs MacColl has also been selected to champion the national campaign to recruit new observers.

Speaking of her experience Mrs MacColl said:

My brother taught me a lot about cloud structures, which led to my interest in the weather. We wanted to continue reading the gauge as a fitting tribute to him and because it provides important information which can help people. Our granddaughter also helps us take the readings, so I hope she might be one of a new generation of volunteers.”

James Curran, SEPA Chief Executive, said:

The voluntary rainfall observers provide an invaluable service and it is important we recognise their outstanding commitment and dedication.

“The information they collect is crucial to a number of nationwide services and the awards are a way of showing our appreciation to the longest serving observers. Some have carried out their duties for nearly half a century and we hope they continue to show the same enthusiasm in the service they provide.

“By raising awareness of this service, we are encouraging members of the public to step forward and help us increase our pool of rainfall observers

Christine Duffy, Rainfall Data Manager of the Met Office, said:

The Met Office and SEPA work closely together throughout the year to help minimise the risk that weather and flooding can bring. The rainfall observers provide an invaluable service to both ourselves and SEPA and this is a fantastic event to recognise their commitment and dedication.”

For more information on becoming a rainfall observer, please contact Grant Kennedy, Senior Specialist Scientist at SEPA, on 01355 574368 on visit the rainfall observer page on ourwebsite.


Notes to Editors

  • The national rainfall archive, looked after by the Met Office, provides a valuable source of data from across the UK relating to rainfall. This data is used by SEPA, the Met Office and other organisations such as the Ministry of Defence, the Environment Agency, and utility companies for weather and flood forecasting, climatology and water resource management.


  • Full list of rainfall observers who received service awards:



Gauge / Location

Length of Service

Peter Kennedy


Doonholm Gauge, Alloway, Ayr

37 years (in family for 114 years)

Jim & Susan MacColl


Dunlop Gauge, Dunlop, Ayrshire

15 years (in family for 60 years)

Mr M Turnbull*


Kingsbarn Gauge, St Andrews, Fife

14 years (in family for 54 years)

Rodney Thomson

Samuelston Gauge, Haddington, East Lothian

49 years

Mr R A Greenshields*

Eliock House Gauge, Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire

49 years

Norman Pedgrift

Strathallan School Gauge, Bridge of Earn, Perthshire

45 years

Ian & Evelyn Crombie*


Westhall Gauge, Cupar, Fife

44 years

Alastair Work*

Auchinner Gauge, Comrie, Perthshire

43 years

George  Gall

Gateside No.2 Gauge, Gateside, Fife

41 years

Bishop Louden

Quinloch Farm Gauge, Blanefield, South Ayrshire

39 years

Fay & Robin Halliday

Port William Gauge, Port William, Dumfriesshire

37 years

Ian Weir


Dungrainach Gauge, Appin, Argyll

35 years

Ian Rose*


Cortachy Gauge, Cortachy, Angus

35 years

Mrs M Findlay*

Prestonpans Gauge, Prestonpans, East Lothian

26 years


        *unable to attend ceremony