THE parents of a mountaineer and talented scientist who fell to his death in Canada have raised money for charity by completing sponsored cycle rides in the spectacular landscape their son loved.
Neil Mackenzie, who grew up in Farr, died in 2015 in a tragic accident with two friends while climbing Joffre Peak in British Columbia where he worked at the university.
Angus and Margaret Mackenzie, who stressed they are not serious cyclists, visited the region where they took part in two cycle rides in the Cowichan Valley, raising over 2500 dollars (£1555) for multiple sclerosis research in Canada.
For every 100 dollars they raised, they also donated £10 to the Neil Mackenzie Trust, a small charitable organisation which helps people to enjoy the outdoors.
The couple cycled 50 miles on two consecutive days passing vineyards, lakes, farms and a lavender farm which was of particular interest to Mrs Mackenzie who ran Brin Herb Nursery, near Farr, for nearly 30 years.
"We are not cyclists and we had to train hard to get fit for the ride," Mrs Mackenzie said.
"The training was not without incident – I threatened to give up and Angus fell off his bike and seriously skinned his nose about two weeks before we left. The distances may not seem much to hardened cyclists but the route on the first day was quite hilly. We are in our mid sixties and have never seriously cycled before.
"Until recently we have been using our electric bikes to help us up even gentle hills! "
Mr Mackenzie said they had never intended to sign up for the event but a friend they were staying with on Vancouver Island was taking part.
"When Neil died, everyone in Canada was so kind to us – from his friends, colleagues and housemates to the officials," he said.
"We wanted to give something back to Canada. This seemed to be an ideal opportunity."
Following their son’s death, donations poured in from friends and family and so the couple, along with their daughter Caroline, set up the Neil Mackenzie Trust.
It has given money to the Mountain Bothies Association to kit out the new Bell’s Bothy on Skye – so-called as he was nicknamed Bell by his friends.
The family also decided to use the surplus to help other people to learn outdoor skills and carry out adventures and expeditions as Mr Mackenzie was so passionate about mountain sports.
It contributes to the Neil Mackenzie Adventure Grant, an expedition adventure award for members of the Varsity Outdoor Club at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where Mr Mackenzie had worked since 2013.
The university has also set up a mentorship award in his memory.
"Neil was a fun loving, outgoing character who was loved by all who met him," Mrs Mackenzie said.
"He introduced, inspired and mentored friends and colleagues at work and in the mountains."
This year, the couple decided to launch the 2017 Bell’s Bothy Challenge for people to challenge themselves anywhere in the world, meet people, promote and raise money for the trust by donation or sponsorship, and help the environment.
They undertook their epic cycle ride for their own challenge.
"It has paid off," Mrs Mackenzie said.
"We have pushed ourselves beyond our comfort zone and are fitter as a result.
"We have met new friends as well as old ones along the way, raised money and promoted the trust and helped the environment by taking to our bikes."
For further information about grants, or to donate visit www.theneilmackenzietrust.wordpress.com.