Tributes to Edinburgh woman who died in Argentina

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AN adventurous woman died “doing what she loved” when she collapsed on a 21-day trek in South America.

Experienced mountaineer Annie Johnston was hiking from Ushaia in southernmost Argentina to Chilean capital Santiago when she fell ill and died last month.

The 41-year-old was with friends on the trek through Patagonia, which she had been planning for more than two years.

Her parents, Bill and Jean Johnston, of Murrayfield, paid tribute yesterday to their beloved daughter who was “always smiling”.

In a heartbreaking twist, Annie’s death comes just two weeks before the 20th anniversary of the death of her brother, Ian, who was killed in a car accident in England when he was 24 years old.

Bill, 75, said: “She was a really adventurous woman. She would have died happy and doing what she loved – that is the most important thing.

“I don’t know if she had a smile on her face when she died, but I like to think so as she was always smiling.”

Her love of the great outdoors began while she was at Rannoch School in Perthshire, where she excelled at mountaineering and joined the Officer Training Corps.

After graduating from Oxford Brookes University in 1995, Annie worked for

InterContinental Hotels all over the world including

Berlin, Singapore and Vienna, as well as a short spell at the George Hotel in Edinburgh.

She had returned to Singapore before her death and spent much of her free time visiting Cambodia where she was involved with the Tabitha Foundation, an organisation which helps deprived children.

Her family has lent support to the charity for a project in her name which will build homes for the poor in Cambodia.

Project Annie has already raised more than £1700 since her death on January 9.

A family statement said: “After family, friends and an adventurous outdoor life, helping others was very important to Annie. Part of her dream was to continue raising money and working with the foundation after she had moved back to Singapore and we are immensely proud of what she has achieved in her short successful and happy life.

“Everyone remembers her smiling face and we know that it would have meant a lot to her to have this project in her name.”

Family and friends will gather for her funeral service at Warriston Crematorium tomorrow where a collection will be held for Project Annie.

Annie also leaves behind brother John and sister-in-law Gillian, who live in Fife.

To find out about Project Annie, visit www.tabitha.org.au/cms/project-annie.

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