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Army of volunteers refuse to give up on helping father-son duo scale Ben Nevis in special wheelchair

Quick-thinking campaigners attempting to lift a man in a wheelchair to the summit of Ben Nevis were forced to react quickly to ensure his dreams were not shattered.

David MacPherson’s life changed forever after he sustained major injuries in a car accident more than 20 years ago.

The 45-year-old has been left with life-changing injuries that has limited his opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

However, his dad David set the ambitious target of getting him to the UK’s highest peak as part of his own 70th birthday celebrations.

And it took a monumental effort by those on the expedition to ensure the father and son duo could realise their dreams.

Make-shift wheelchair repairs kept dream alive

A group of 30 spearheaded the efforts to lift, carry and pull David towards the summit of Ben Nevis in the joelette, which is a specialist wheelchair.

The event was meticulously planned with friends, family and supporters from across the UK joining the efforts to help.

However, the summit attempt was thrown into turmoil almost as quickly as it began when part of the wheelchair snapped.

Only the quick-thinking of the crew to use a walking pole and cable ties to do makeshift repairs kept the dreams on track.

Mr MacPherson senior said: “We were probably about halfway up when it broke.

“I thought we would have to head back down again but everyone was amazing, they fixed it up and carried on.

An army of 30 friends, family and supporters helped David MacPherson scale Ben Nevis. Photo: Japes.

“We got to about 100 metres from the summit and then they said they would have to stop for health and safety, but I’m amazed they got as far as they did.

“The whole thing was unbelievable. I can’t really put words to it, what everyone did for me and David was absolutely amazing.”

Ben Nevis ascent was ‘brutal physical and mental challenge’

The wheelchair ascent of Ben Nevis was organised by charity Japes (Joelette and People Experiences).

The cause was created by teacher Nelson Liddle after he was inspired by seeing people helping a young boy take part in a marathon by using one of the specialist aids.

Since then, the charity has helped take part in events including the Inverness Half Marathon and scale peaks including Ben Lomond and Snowdon.

Mr Liddle said: “We use a sort-of modified wheelchair that is powered by a small team of volunteer runners and walkers to allow anyone with mobility challenges to inspire the thrill, atmosphere and camaraderie of being a participant in a range of physical activities.

David MacPherson senior and junior carried out meticulous planning ahead of the Ben Nevis ascent.

“The feedback is always glowing from parents and carers alike. We’ve helped more than a dozen people to enjoy inclusion through participation.”

Mr MacPherson’s climb up Ben Nevis in the joelette wheelchair raised money for Japes as well as key workers in his hometown Campbelltown.

Family friend Kevin Fuller, from Essex, travelled to Lochaber especially to help the father and son realise their ambitions.

He said: “I’ve never done anything like it. It was an absolutely brutal challenge, physically and mentally, but worth every step.

“There were about 10 people on the chair at any one time and it was a phenomenal effort from everyone.

“The terrain was incredibly challenging. We had to lift the chair over streams and boulders, across grassland, as well as up the slope.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Donations to help Japes run more expeditions can be made here

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