Father planning to climb height of Everest for charity…

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A father is setting out to climb the height of Mount Everest to raise funds to build a bothy in memory of his outdoors-loving son.

Olly Jones, 12, was knocked down and killed in Innellan, near Dunoon, Argyll and Bute, in 2016 while returning home from school.

His parents Martin and Sam were helped through their grief by friends and family offering them the chance to get away for a break and they now want to create a dedicated retreat for people facing similar circumstances.

They formed a charity named Olly’s Wee Bothy and plan to build accommodation somewhere near Dunoon with more than £20,000 already raised for the project.

In the latest fundraising drive, Mr Jones, a law lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, now aims to climb Mount Everest – but without leaving Argyll and Bute.

Starting on Tuesday, he will hike local landmark the Bishop’s Seat 18 times over six days, covering a little more than the 8,848 metre height of Everest.

The event has been well supported by the community and Mr Jones is using local bunkhouse Pucks Rest as his “basecamp” for the hike rather than returning home each day.

He said: “The idea of the charity is for parents like us who suffer the death of a child to provide some support in the sense that they have somewhere to escape to.

“Our inspiration for this was that after Olly died in August 2016 we had a lot of people offering us a stay in their holiday home.

“We had quite a lot of offers to get away and did eventually take up an offer and spent Christmas in Ireland. It was somewhere we had never been as a family and I think that is one of the important things about the idea of having somewhere that you can create new memories.”

He added: “Olly was a fun-loving energetic outdoors sort of boy – he loved camping, sailing and being in the hills.

“The charity is rooted in the community and Olly’s classmates have helped raise money, and locals have organised their own fundraising events for us.

“One real plus for locating this challenge near the town is that it allows locals to join me for a leg. One of the legs on Friday August 17 is being thrown open to anyone – we are doing a star walk going up by torchlight.”

Although named Olly’s Wee Bothy, the building will be more of a holiday home to “offer shelter from emotional storms”.

Mr Jones said: “You want to just find that place, maybe where you haven’t been before, and somewhere you can begin to think about re-framing your life.

“We were lucky in that we had people in our networks able to offer us this, other people might not be so lucky.

“When you lose a child there’s big expenses that come with that that are unexpected, your finances can take a real hit, so offering this free of charge is something we are really keen to be central to what the charity does.”

The charity’s initial aim is to raise about £50,000 before looking at land to build and pursuing wider sources of funding.

Mr Jones said: “Olly loved the outdoors and whereas a mountain bothy provides free accommodation to shelter from the elements, our bothy will be a freely accessible refuge from the emotional storms that come with losing a child.

“It will be a tough challenge but people will be joining me on the way and hopefully we can raise plenty of funds through the donate button at ollysweebothy.org.”

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