David on track to conquer Ben Nevis in wheelchair

David MacPherson Jnr, right, with his father, David Snr, who will join him on the Ben Nevis challenge.
David MacPherson junior, right, with his father, David senior, who will join him on the Ben Nevis challenge.

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A Kintyre man’s bid to be the first person to reach the summit of the UK’s highest mountain in a specialised wheelchair is back on track.

Last year, David MacPherson, aged 45, from The Moy, announced plans to reach the summit of Ben Nevis in a wheelchair designed by social inclusion charity JAPES: Joelette And People Experiences.

David, who survived a life-changing car accident more than 20 years ago which affected his mobility, was set to take on the challenge on June 5 this year, joined by his dad, David senior, volunteers from JAPES, members of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue team and some Kintyre friends, who would help to power the Joelette wheelchair.

While lockdown measures preventing travel between local authority areas remained in place, David feared it might not be possible to travel to Fort William for the challenge.

However, the announcement this week that restrictions will be further eased on April 26, allowing travel throughout Scotland for any purpose, means it is now full steam ahead for David and the team.

David senior is planning to travel to Lochaber in May to tackle some of the mountain’s steepest sections in preparation for the challenge.

He hopes they will be joined on June 5 by some of his friends from the traditional Scottish bands Trail West, Skipinnish, Tide Lines and Skerryvore who could provide some musical motivation on the day.

David senior, who has got to know the musicians while travelling to their gigs over the years, said: ‘Hopefully some of them will be able to take their accordions and pipes with them – we’re hoping, if everything goes well, Seonaidh MacIntyre from Trail West will be able to play MacPherson’s Rant on his pipes at the summit.’

On Saturday May 1, David junior will test-run the Joelette wheelchair in which he plans to reach the summit of Ben Nevis. He will leave the head of the Old Quay at midday before touring the town centre to get accustomed to the chair.

Although the climb can go ahead, restrictions prevented David senior from organising a range of fundraising activities ahead of the event.

He had hoped to give the money raised to local key workers, including hospital staff and carers, to reward their hard work throughout the pandemic, with a portion also being donated to Lochaber Mountain Rescue.

He said: ‘I’m sorry I can’t raise the funds for the community – under the circumstances, with Covid restrictions in place, I wasn’t able to organise any events.

‘I’m really looking forward to the challenge though – David will be the first to go up Ben Nevis in a wheelchair – there was supposed to be another boy going up at the same time as David, but he can’t make it anymore unfortunately.’