Our very own Natalie Berry has been announced as this year's Scottish Youth Ambassador for Mountain Culture by the Fort William Mountain Festival. Now in its second year, the award is part of a project jointly run by the Festival and the Nevis Landscape Partnership to celebrate adventurous young people, the outdoor pursuits at which they excel and the landscapes in which they do them.
Dave MacLeod, who sits on the Festival Committee, said:
'In my view Natalie represents an exemplar in influencing other young people by showing it is possible to achieve high levels of personal sporting success at the same time as making many other types of contribution, through media, charity and club involvement related to her expertise.'
Natalie, 24, joined UKC as Assistant Editor in October 2014, and though she's not one to blow her own trumpet we think she's been a great success.
A 'Scousewegian' who grew up in Glasgow and is now based in Edinburgh, she started climbing at the age of eight and joined the British Junior Climbing Team when she was eleven. Over subsequent years she had considerable competition success, winning eight British climbing championship titles and many European youth podium places including a first place at the European Youth Series in Slovenia in 2007. Since then she has proved herself as a talented sport climber (8b redpoints).
More recently Natalie has moved into trad and winter climbing, a progression charted in the recent Hot Aches film Transition (see this UKC Interview).
The national press even picked up the Transition story, fired up by some impressive photos of her headpoint ascent of the classic E7 Dalriada on the Cobbler.
Natalie also serves as an ambassador for two different charities, helping to spread word of their work - Urban Uprising, who help deprived youngsters to discover climbing, and Climbers Against Cancer, who raise funds for cancer research around the world.
'I’m honoured to be a recipient of the Youth Award for Mountain Culture' she told us.
'Climbing is a huge part of my life and to be able to work and volunteer within the industry is a great privilege. If what I do has helped others and influenced our climbing culture and community, then that is a great bonus! I had many influential figures in my climbing from a young age - volunteers, instructors or friendly faces down the wall, so I understand how support and encouragement can benefit young people.'
Natalie will join legends of mountaineering in the Mountain Culture Hall of Fame when she is presented with her award on Saturday 20 February at the Festival.
Well done Natalie!
Also to be recognised with an award at the festival will be Mick Tighe, who becomes the ninth recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.
Peers and members of the public who nominated Mick for the award described him as embodying the spirit of Scottish mountaineering through his work as a guide, rescuer, trainer, pioneer of many new routes and latterly with his writings, film work and setting up of the Scottish Mountaineering Heritage Collection.
Mike Pescod, Chairman of the Highland Mountain Culture Association, organisers of the Festival, said:
'Mick embodies the spirit of mountaineering perfectly, from its slightly rebellious side to its social and cultural side. Mick has dedicated his life to mountaineering and has helped countless others do so as well. It was Mick who first came to rescue me after an accident eleven years ago so it is on a very personal level that I say I am delighted that Mick is the recipient of this year’s Mountain Culture Award.'
For the best part of thirty years, alongside running his own business as a mountain guide, Mick has given selfless service to Mountain Rescue as both a member of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and as National Training Officer for Mountain Rescue in Scotland.
He has contributed numerous articles and photographs to various climbing and walking publications and for many years he did his annual round of Winter Mountain Safety Lectures throughout the UK for the charity Boots Across Scotland.
As an inveterate collector, Mick has amassed perhaps the largest collection of mountain artefacts, equipment, literature, photographs and other memorabilia in the UK which he donated to create the Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection, of which he is a Trustee. The collection is catalogued and photographed on a website, allowing access to anyone in the world, although it is a long held ambition of Mick’s to house the physical collection in its own museum, rather than his barn!
Born in Derbyshire, Mick Tighe joined the Royal Marines at the age of seventeen. During his ten years’ service, he qualified as a Mountain and Arctic Warfare Instructor, and spent seven winters in Arctic Norway. After leaving the service, he qualified as a British and International Mountain Guide and worked as an instructor with The Joint Services Mountain Training Centre at Tulloch before starting his own guiding business, Nevis Guides. As well as a member of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team for nearly thirty years, Mick was the National Training Officer to all of Scotland’s Mountain Rescue Teams for ten years. Having moved to Glen Roy, just north of Fort William, when he left the Marines in 1977, Mick is still there, happily married to his wife Kathy.
Mick joins previous winners such as Hamish MacInnes, Jimmy Marshall and Andy Nisbet in the Excellence in Mountain Culture Hall of Fame.
- The Fort William Mountain Festival runs from 17 to 21 February 2016: for details see the website