Strength and resilience gets David up Ben Nevis in wheelchair

David MacPherson senior and junior, centre front, with some of the volunteers who helped during the Ben Nevis ascent. Photograph: JAPES.
David MacPherson senior and junior, centre front, with some of the volunteers who helped during the Ben Nevis ascent. Photograph: JAPES.

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An amazing display of strength and resilience helped Kintyre man David MacPherson get within 100 metres of the summit of the UK’s highest mountain in a specialised wheelchair.

Last Saturday, 45-year-old David, who suffered life-changing injuries in a car accident more than 20 years ago, took on the Ben Nevis challenge in the Joëlette wheelchair.

The special wheelchair was created by social inclusion charity JAPES: Joëlette and People Experiences.

He was joined by his dad, David senior, volunteers from JAPES, members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue team and friends from Kintyre and as far afield as Nottingham and Essex, who all helped to lift and pull the wheelchair.

A team of volunteers helped to lift and pull the wheelchair.
A team of volunteers helped to lift and pull the wheelchair. Photograph: JAPES.

All was going well until disaster struck about half-way up when a crucial hinge sheared under the strain of the climb and the terrain.

A quick assessment and a repair – using cable ties, a piece of threaded rod and a walking pole – meant the team was able to continue the climb.

But about 1,245 metres up, the decision was made that it would not be safe to continue to the summit and, after 13 hours on the mountain, the team returned to the bottom.

David senior told the Courier he ‘can’t put into words’ how grateful he is to the volunteers who overcame such adversity to help his son achieve his dream.

He said: ‘What a challenge it was! The work the volunteers did… you can’t put it into words. You could never repay them.

‘The amount of people who stopped and clapped and took photos too, it was incredible.’

The team was treated to some spectacular views. Photograph: JAPES.
The team was treated to some spectacular views. Photograph: JAPES.

Some climbers who encountered the team offered to help while others were moved to tears by David junior’s story.

JAPES founder Nelson Liddle said: ‘It was a fantastic event and the most difficult and extreme challenge JAPES has undertaken.

‘To see David senior and David junior approaching the top of Ben Nevis was a proud moment for everyone involved and great reward for the hard work everyone put in on the day.

‘We owe a great deal of thanks to those who have already supported us on this challenge – those who have sponsored and donated to the cause, and those who gave their time, energy and great physical effort to meet the challenge.’

See David senior and David junior approaching the top of Ben Nevis was a proud moment for everyone involved. Photograph: JAPES.
See David senior and David junior approaching the top of Ben Nevis was a proud moment for everyone involved. Photograph: JAPES.

The repaired Joëlette will now only be used for low-level walks and running events.

‘We are raising funds to purchase a new Joëlette to allow us to continue to take on the more demanding challenges like the one we faced last weekend,’ Nelson added.

‘We greatly appreciate any support individuals or organisations can give us. Every contribution takes us nearer our goal of continuing to promote inclusion through participation.’

The online crowdfunding page is available at: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/japes