|Loch Ness Monster, Nessie & Me by Tony Harmsworth is the first comprehensive Loch Ness
book for more than a decade. It exposes fakes, hoaxes and pseudoscience and
shows how the story grew from an interesting local story into the most famous
mystery of the twentieth century. Whether or not you believe in the mystery, how
that mystery grew from humble beginnings to world fame is a fascinating story in
its own right and this book explains all.
However, it contains more than just the monster. It is a GEOGRAPHY of Loch Ness; the BIOGRAPHY of the world's favourite monster and the AUTOBIOGRAPHY of the best known Loch Ness commentator.
A SUPERB READ FROM BEGINNING TO END! Click this link to hear the author reading the book.
Email address: Tony @ Harmsworth.net
Age: 66 years old
Wife for 44 years: Wendy
Runs InvernessTours.com and the Harmsworth Tourism & Web Consultancy. He also chaired the Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Association for three years before retiring in June 2012. He was also a director of Destination Loch Ness, the region's destination management organisation, until retiring in May 2012.
One of the foremost authorities on the mystery at Loch Ness. He conceived designed, created and co-founded the Official Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre; was administrative coordinator of Operation Deepscan during 1986/7; was Bursar of Fort Augustus Abbey on Loch Ness where he designed and wrote the highly acclaimed Fort Augustus Abbey Heritage Centre and also the Loch Ness Story Diorama; invented the award-winning board game, Nessie Hunt; scripted the Polygram video Loch Ness Monster Story; wrote Mysterious Monsters of Loch Ness and Loch Ness, The Monster, the latter being reprinted on eight occasions. After some 25 years' writing, he has just completed Loch Ness, Nessie & Me, a 360 page book on Loch Ness with more than 200 illustrations and photographs.
Although born and brought up in England, his mother was from Scotland and lived in Drumnadrochit for many years. Both his parents had a love of the Highlands and he has now lived overlooking Loch Ness for more than half his life.
His mixed heritage has resulted in him being a rather strange combination of Tottenham Hotspur and Scotland supporter. Neither team seem to ever win anything! Although, perhaps, this year? As the last statement demonstrates, he is also a great optimist!
Tony has a background in sales and industry holding down management posts with Loyds, Top Rank, Granada, Wella and Lenthéric Morny (BAC). These posts were in Manchester, Basingstoke and Camberley. He moved to Drumnadrochit in 1978 to follow up several years' interest in Loch Ness. In 1980 it was his idea to set up the Loch Ness Exhibition with a local hotelier who stole his intellectual property, leaving him with nothing from the exhibition he had created.
In the mid eighties, while still Managing Director at the Loch Ness Centre which had grown into the most successful tourist attraction in the Highlands, he produced his Loch Ness game, Nessie Hunt which had been in the planning since 1975.
In 1990, after yet another disagreement with the owner of the Loch Ness Centre who had been making his life unbearable, he left to concentrate on a manufacturing company for which he had been consulting.
Genesis Creations Ltd of Fife was a great success initially, growing to nearly fifty employees making fantasy figurines, but the recession in the early nineties caused many of its customers to go bankrupt. The resulting uncollectible debts caused Genesis to fold and almost cost the loss of his home. Bankruptcy was avoided by a whisker.
Returning to his knowledge of Loch Ness, he had to quickly establish a new business with positive cashflow. He chose to obtain a Public Service Vehicle driving and operating licence and ran very specialised half-day Loch Ness tours for small groups. Although extremely successful he still had a desire to return to visitor centre design and management.
In 1993 the opportunity arose with a contract to come up with a theme for the Perthshire Visitor Centre just north of Perth. With Dunkeld and Birnam being nearby he chose to take the much maligned Scottish king, Macbeth, and produce a presentation which contrasted the Shakespearean character with the real person who was, in fact, one of Scotland's better monarchs.
Also in 1993 he was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to come up with a rescue package for Fort Augustus Abbey whose boarding school had recently closed owing to falling numbers. He was then appointed by the monks to manage the creation of the visitor centre he had designed and the doors opened in May 1994.
The Benedictine monks were so pleased with the results that they offered him the role of Bursar (a sort of monastic financial director), which was the first time this position had been held by a lay person in any Scottish monastery. The business grew extremely rapidly but the demands of the Victorian buildings meant that the profits were all swallowed in escalating repairs and maintenance.
When Abbot Mark Dilworth retired, a monk called Francis Davidson, who had always taken a hostile stance towards the venture, was appointed to take control of the Abbey and, within five months of his appointment in March 1998, he shut the entire place. He refused to allow any attempts to keep it open and disbursed all of the monks to other monasteries. The abbey has now being converted into luxury apartments. For a decade it was in a shocking state of repair, but finally appears to be taking shape.
The demise of the abbey, as well as a personal blow, was also a serious financial blow to Tony who had had to give up all of his business interests when he took on the Bursar role. Starting from scratch in 1998 he developed an Internet and Marketing Consultancy business which can be viewed in a separate window. Harmsworth Consultancy.
Early in 2002 his wife, Wendy, joined him in this venture after retiring from a career in local government. In addition he set up an on line shop which went on to amalgamate with Chanonry Point Ltd. where Tony joined forces with Keith and Carola Martin-Smith in an Internet shopping project which was ahead of its time.
The bus tour he created in 2003 became the first in Scotland to be awarded five stars by the Scottish Tourist Board. Many have five stars today, but traveller beware ... the increase in the number of five star tours operating from Edinburgh has nothing to do with improving standards in the industry and everything to do with the tourist board being less discerning. His tour was also voted "Best Tourist Attraction 2004" beating multi-million pound attractions such as Urquhart Castle.
At the end of 2006 he sold the coach tour business to another operator and was concentrating on exclusive tours or guiding educational groups.
In 2007, at the age of only 59, he suffered a stroke which prevented him from guide/driving for a year. Fully recovered, he now continues to run his Inverness Tours company and he now has two excellent guides and keeps his own guiding services at a premium. He is a great believer in delivering world class quality in any enterprise he undertakes.
Owing to the enforced leisure time in 2008, he decided to put more time and effort into developing the consultancy business and is working on his Nessie Hunt game which he wishes to put on line. Its home will be at Nessie Hunt.
His main business today is a return to guiding and speaking on Scotland's history, natural history and Loch Ness. This has become very successful and today he guides not just tourists, but groups of university students too. If you come to the Highlands you should be able to attend either one of his talks or join his tour. See Inverness Exclusive Tours.
The book has been a major project for him and is now published with LuLu in the UK and Amazon in the USA. Other publishers have expressed an interest, but he will not compromise the honesty exhibited in the book by taming down any of its contents.