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Tributes paid to well known Highland hill runner found dead in the mountains

Alexander Brett
Alexander Brett

The family of a Highland hill runner who died while tackling four of the north’s biggest mountains last night described him as “an amazingly kind-hearted gentleman”.

The body of Alexander Brett was found after a two day search of the Torridon mountains.

The 65-year-old, who was known as Alex, was an experienced hill runner and set out to run across four Munros – Ben Eighe, Beinn Dearg, Ben Alligin and Liathach – all in one day.

His body was found in the Liathach area, where it is understood that he fell from the main path.

Last night, his family spoke of their anguish and thanked rescuers for their efforts to find him.

Mr Brett was a member of Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team, which helped in the search operation after he was reported missing.

Torridon and Kintail rescue teams were also involved, as well as the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter and the Search and Rescue Dog Association Scotland.

Stornoway Coastguard recovered his body on Saturday after a sighting of Mr Brett reported by a member of the public helped narrow down the search area.

Mr Brett had competed in countless hill races and other challenges, and raised thousands of pounds for charity.

Alexander Brett
Alexander Brett

He is survived by his partner Lynda Johnston, his daughter Kirsty and his sister Alicia MacKay.

Yesterday, Kirsty Brett posted a message of thanks on Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team’s social networking page, describing her father as an “amazingly kind-hearted gentleman”.

His partner Ms Johnston was abroad when he went missing and only returned home to Dingwall at the weekend.

Yesterday she said: “He inspired many people with his passion for whatever he got involved in. He loved the outdoors and the hills and loved life, but he also cared a lot about his friends and family and the local area.

“He was passionate about Dingwall and its history. I have had people phoning me saying they felt like he was a brother to them. People loved his passion for life and so many people were inspired by him. He was just extremely public spirited.”

Mr Brett trained as a builder on the City and Guilds course at Inverness College and ran his own business in Dingwall, specialising in stonemasonry.

Ms Johnston said: “He cared about his work and doing a good job because he knew that he was creating something that would last.

“He also loved his labrador dogs. His best friend latterly around the mountains was Struie, his yellow Labrador, who has been a constant companion to him.”

Ms Johnston added: “I would like to give a big thank you from friends and family for the effort from all of the rescue teams that were involved. A lot of these guys knew him.”

Mr Brett took up hill running in his 30s and completed a number of charity events, raising thousands of pounds.

Yesterday, Mick Holmes, leader of Dundonnell MRT, said Mr Brett had been in the team for more than three years, adding that while it had been a “difficult” job for them, they were determined to help.

He added: “It was a vital piece of information that came in on Saturday from a member of the public that reduced our search area. That contributed to us finding him. I don’t know who that was, but I would thank them.

“Alex was a really sociable guy and I never came across anyone with a bad word to say about him.”

Mr Brett had set out to run the four Munros last Sunday. He was reported missing on Thursday and his body was found on Saturday.

“Dingwall is in shock”

Alex Brett was a founding member of Highland Hill Runners, which organises event all over the north.

He competed in 28 Highland Cross events, latterly winning the over-60s title twice in a row.

He also completed in 27 Great Wilderness marathons, which run from Dundonnell to Poolewe, and the John O’Groats to Land’s End cycle.

The lifelong Ross County fan also raised money by completing the Mount Everest Marathon with his close friend Iain MacDonald.

Latterly Mr Brett also became chairman of the Dingwall Historical Society.

Highland Hill Runners president, Russell McKechnie, said: “We are all in shock about it.

“He was a great man for the banter. If you were going out on a run, when the weather was bad, you would want Alex around.

“He turned a grey day into a sunny one.”

Mr McKechnie added: “He was a real adventurer and is going to be missed.”

Mr McKechnie said that as well as running, Mr Brett was a keen climber and cyclist, who had peddled from Land’s End to John O’Groats twice.

Dingwall and Seaforth councillor Margaret Paterson said: “Alex was tremendously community-spirited and did so much for the area.

“He was very well known and well loved.

“Dingwall is in shock. This is an absolute tragedy.”

She added: “Alex was a real Highland gentleman and always had a good word for everyone.”