Heartbroken dad donates son's uni fees to mountain heroes

THE dad of a young man who died after falling on Ben Nevis with his partner is donating his son's university fees to a Scottish mountain rescue team.

Tim Newton and Rachel Slater on Ben Nevis. Picture: Police Scotland/PA

Tim Newton was studying physics at Leed University and was due to return this autumn, but until the tragedy.

The 27-year-old and his partner Rachel Slater died on the UK’s highest mountain earlier this year during a Valentine’s weekend climbing trip.

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Tim’s father Chris Newton has given the money he would have spent on his son’s university fees to Lochaber mountain rescue team.

He said there was “no more deserving cause” than the volunteers who spent hundreds of hours searching the mountain for the couple earlier this year.

Experienced climbers Tim and Rachel went missing on Valentine’s Day.

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Air and land searches were mounted in difficult conditions for more than five weeks, before their bodies were discovered in deep snow at the base of Observatory Gully.

It was believed that they had been hit by an avalanche near where they had pitched their tent.

Mr Newton was originally from Leicestershire, but had lived in Bradford and studied physics at Manchester University, before enrolling last year to study the same subject at Leeds University.

Donating £9,000 plus £2,250 in gift aid to the mountain rescue team, his father Chris wrote: “‘For the heroes that are Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, Tim’s university fees for 2016/17.

“I can think of no more deserving cause. With a father’s love to my Tim and dearest Rachel, forever with me.”

The couple were buried together in April near the slopes of Ben Nevis.

Twenty members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were among the mourners at a private service in Fort William.

Two of the team – who are pipers – played laments in tribute, with the service taking place at Duncansburgh MacIntosh Parish Church.

Lochaber mountain rescue team leader John Stevenson thanked Mr Newton and his family for the donation.

He said: “I know he did donate the money. It’s really sad that we’re getting money from people because of sad circumstances, losing family members.

“We would much rather not get it and have the people still with us, but it was very good of him.

“Donations are what keeps us ticking over, like all mountain rescue teams. We’re very grateful to these people for doing that in these circumstances.”

Mr Newton had been climbing for around 10 years and logged more than 1,400 climbs on a climbing and mountaineering website.

Ms Slater had logged more than 2,300 climbs and described some of them in her online blog, including her first winter climb on Ben Nevis in March of last year.

The 24-year-old was originally from Sheffield, but had moved to Calgary in Canada with her family in 2005 and joined a youth climbing team in 2007, progressing to the competitive youth team the following year.

She had also lived in Bradford and attended Manchester University, graduating with a BSc (Hons) in environmental science.

In June, the mountain rescue team discovered the couple’s camera near the spot where they were hit by an avalanche.

The camera was still working and contained the picture of the couple together on Ben Nevis on a previous trip that was issued during police appeals for information about the pair while they were missing.