THREE Bo’ness men helped to save a stricken mountain climber from possible death - after they had scaled Ben Nevis to fundraise for a young boy recovering from brain surgery.
Kitchen fitter Derek Morgan, and posties Gordon Snedden, Craig Doudie and Craig Yeadon, along with Craig’s brother Graham from England, have raised about £1000 from the sponsored climb a week past Sunday.
This will send Craig Yeadon’s son Corey (10), now back home after seven weeks in hospital, to Blackpool in November to defend his British freestyle wheelchair dancing crown.
As well as rising to that challenge, Derek, Graham and Craig Yeadon also proved to be heroes for one solo walker, Wendy (44) from Essex, who was struggling with what appeared to be hypothermia.
The group had met her at the icy summit, where Derek’s kilt was a talking point.
She was ahead of them on the rocky, misty descent when the trio - Gordon and Craig Dowdie were further on - encountered her again.
“It was freezing, absolutely Baltic at the top,” said Derek. “Her speech was really slurred, she was shaking and could barely stand.
“We sat her down for five minutes, gave her some Lucozade, chocolate and a hat.
“I held her arm and hand going back down. I was in pain myself, my feet were badly blistered.
“When we finally got her to the bottom she was basically back to normal and thanked us.”
With hugs Wendy was on her way and there was much relief from Gordon and Craig Doudie, who had been panicking at the unexplained delay in their friends’ return.
“Only one of us had a phone,” said Derek “and I think his phone was dead as we had taken so many photographs.”
Reflecting on the experience, Derek said: “It was going to end in two ways. Either she was going to get airlifted off - and it was very misty - or, she said it herself, she was never going to get down.”
Busy rescue helicopters could be heard but visibility was poor. He said: “Your chances of surviving are slim to none.”
The woman, a seasoned walker, was in waterproofs and boots.
It was her sixth day on Ben Nevis, gradually climbing higher each day until reaching the summit on Sunday.
“The difference in her, from where we met her to the bottom was 100 times better,” said Derek.
“She’s not the first person that’s kind of struggled up there, you hear about deaths and rescues.
“Every step is basically a potential ankle breaker because it’s not a straight path.”
Back in Bo’ness, Derek was delighted at the great fundraising response for young Corey, who got home to Livingston Drive last week, just in time for Fair Day.
The brave Deanburn Prim-ary pupil had been in Yorkhill Children’s Hospital for an operation on his skull.
Surgeons opened his head to access the skull and raise a panel of it up, to allow the brain more room to move and to help fluid drain.
Mum Michelle said: “That’s the focus, by the end of the summer holidays, to be back to wheelchair dancing and back at school.
“It should be a realistic goal.”
Corey dances with the Funky Fifers. Grateful for all the fundraising support, Michelle said: “It’s made him more determined to get better to go.”