Two landmark English mountaineers including the joint first Briton to climb Everest are going to join an effort to show their respect for Scotland – by helping to build a cairn.
In 1975 Englishman Doug Scott became the joint first Briton to climb Everest, reaching the summit of the mountain by its previously unclimbed south west face. Topping out alongside him was Dougal Haston, a Scotsman.
Nearly fourty years later, Doug is taking part in a project designed to highlight the power of Anglo – Scottish unity as the country decides how to vote in September’s independence referendum.
On 28 July he will join adventurer Ranulph Fiennes and Alan Hinkes, the first Briton to climb the world's 14 8,000 metre-plus peaks, to help build the ‘Auld Acquaintance’ cairn in Gretna.
The trio will be joined by volunteers and members of the public from both sides of the border who support Scotland staying in the union as part of a symbolic ‘Hands Across the Border’ project, coordinated by Conservative Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart.
A spokesperson for the group said: “Everyone of any age or nationality is invited to join them working on the structure. Sir Ranulph will be bringing his stone from Exmoor. There will also be stone from around the United Kingdom on site for volunteers without stone.
“Volunteers will be gathering from two in the afternoon. All the climbers and explorers will be making a brief speech shortly after 4pm and would be delighted to chat to any volunteers on site.
He added: “Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ father was killed commanding the Scots Greys during the Second World War. Sir Ranulph Fiennes himself served in the Scots Greys, before joining the SAS. The experience of serving alongside Scottish soldiers has left him with a deep respect and affection for Scotland and its place in the United Kingdom.”
The project to build the cairn started on 20 July and will continue through August and to the referendum on September 18.
Describing the project’s aims, the Hands Across the Border website says: “We want to show how much we respect and care for the different nations of the United Kingdom. We will show this by constructing something which we hope will be a lasting symbol of our relationship.”
Rory Stewart attracted headlines earlier this year when he called for a mass hand-holding across Hadrian's Wall to "show the love that exists between the four nations of the union." The plans appear to have been scrapped.
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