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Skye MSP Kate Forbes is urging well-wishers to get behind a community heritage group’s final fundraising push to mark mountaineering history and create a new tourism attraction on the island.
Having raised £93,500 thus far, the Collie Mackenzie Heritage Group is just £23,500 short of its final stage target – which would build a bronze sculpture at Sligachan, against the backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains, paying tribute to two renowned mountaineering figures – Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie.
The pair are credited with creating many of the routes across the Cuillin range, and are held locally as pioneers.
John Mackenzie was from the crofting village of Sconser and began climbing the Cuillin range at the age of 10. He went onto become the first native Scot to become a professional mountain guide.
Mackenzie met Professor Collie, an internationally renowned scientist and mountain expert, on Skye and the pair formed a climbing partnership and friendship that spanned more than half a century.
The heritage group has already successfully raised £200,000 to complete the first stage of the project, which included the formation of a car park, information panels, stone seating and the removal of an unsightly overhead power system.
They now hope to meet their final target by 2020, and are already planning a Skye celebration of the Cuillin to mark the historic occasion of the unveiling.
Ms Forbes commented: ‘I’ve met with the Collie Mackenzie Heritage Group several times about their exciting plans to commemorate John Mackenzie and Professor Norman Collie.
‘I know they have put in a lot of hard work, and have made significant progress over that time. There is still a way to go, but I know there is a lot of goodwill and hope that the heritage group will reach their goals.
‘The most pressing issue right now is, of course, funding and I’d like to commend all of the individuals and groups who have backed this project.’
Morag Nicolson, chairwoman of the Collie Mackenzie Heritage Group, added: ‘The lengthy climb from base camp to summit sees us now on the final ascent thanks to supporters from all over the world.
‘We are now so close to placing this iconic sculpture in the landscape at Sligachan.’