Bonnybridge man hopes friend’s headstone can be repaired

The headstone of Jimmy Buchanan in Falkirk Cemetery needs repaired.
The headstone of Jimmy Buchanan in Falkirk Cemetery needs repaired.

A friend of a workmate killed in a tragic climbing accident over 40 years ago is asking for help to repair the headstone that marks his former pal’s grave.

Jimmy Buchanan died in March 1971 while attempting to reach the top of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak.

He was an experienced climber and a popular member of the Ochil Mountaineering Club, but lost his life just two days before his 25th birthday when he plunged to his death off the Green Gully on the north face of the mountain.

The coachbuilder with Alexander’s in Camelon was buried in Falkirk Cemetery after a service attended by over 300 mourners including his bus building colleagues and mountaineering friends.

Now the headstone that marks his last resting place is in danger of falling over and, without any knowledge of his immediate family to turn to, his good friend Alan Gentles is appealing for help to allow urgent repairs to be carried out.

Alan (68), from Larbert Road in Bonnybridge, has already contacted Falkirk Council to see if the deeds of the lair can be transferred to him so that he can arrange to have the work done.

He hopes anyone who knew Jimmy will contact him and offer of help to pay the bill which has been estimated at £225.

Alan said: “I started at Alexander’s in 1963 at around the same time as Jimmy and got to know him really well. He was very popular and became a really good friend of mine.

“When he died in this tragic accident it was a great shock to everybody at the works. He never married and stayed with his dad, William, in Breton Court in Falkirk. I’ve been told he had a sister, but been unable to trace her, however I’m sure that even after all this time there are people out there that met Jimmy either during his time with Alexander’s or through climbing who might want to make a contribution if they knew the situation.

“A local stonemason has quoted me a price to make the headstone safe and at a push I’m prepared to pay for it, but I think his many friends might want to make a contribution and take some comfort from the fact he is being properly remembered.”

Anyone who would like to help can contact Alan at

The Falkirk Herald reported the accident on March 27, 1971 in detail.

Jimmy’s climbing partner that day, George Skelton (29), from Denny quit the sport soon after.

He said: “Jimmy and I had climbed together all over Britain and in the Alps but I think that after this tragedy I’ve had enough.”