Former St Marychurch mountaineering GP Mike Mason dies aged 86
BAY GP and intrepid walker Dr Mike Mason has died, aged 86.
The St Marychurch doctor (pictured right) had battled cancer for five years, but he continued to remain active and earlier this year was named the Herald Express loveLIFE champion for his exercise regime.
Until last year he was undertaking arduous, twice-weekly, 10-mile hikes across Dartmoor.
The oldest by more than a decade in the South Devon Ramblers Association, he joined them in his wheelchair on their summer trip to France this year.
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The funeral is being held at St Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road, Torquay, on Friday, November 16, at 11.30am.
The St Marychurch GP developed a love of mountaineering as a young medical student at Guys Hospital, London, in the 1940s.
He went on to lead 16 treks through the Himalayas, 14 times in Nepal and twice on the Pakistan-Indian side.
During holidays from medical school he would hitchhike to Europe and go mountaineering in the Alps.
In 1948 his climbing experience came in useful when he rescued two stranded men on cliffs near Daddyhole Plain. He was awarded a Royal Humane Society bronze medal for his heroism.
In 1950, he left medical college as a qualified doctor and took a post at Ipswich Hospital. Within a few months he was called up to the RAF and posted to North Wales.
Appalled at the naivety of servicemen in the face of harsh weather conditions, Flying Officer Mason instigated a programme to train airmen as effective climbers, capable of rescuing each other and members of the public.
He practiced in Scotland before moving with his wife Pat, a radiographer, to Torquay to take a partnership role in 1955.
He worked in obstetrics and delivered many babies.
Dr Mason's practice became popular and, as it expanded, moved around Torquay before ending up in the Old Vicarage at St Marychurch.
He become a founding governor of Rowcroft Hospice and started an early version of the Friends of Rowcroft at his practice. He is a former vice-president of the hospice and president of the friends.
For more than a decade he organised the annual sponsored walk at Stover Park, Newton Abbot, to fundraise for the charity.
Dr Mason was also chairman of the Wessex Ski Club at Barton.
Dr Mason described climbing as being 'intermeshed' with his love of medicine.
His travels took him all over the globe, to Nepal, Borneo, the Hindu Kush range of the Indian sub-continent, Canada, America, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and New Zealand.
He helped establish a school for children in Ghorepani in Nepal and in 1990 met climber Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Everest.
When interviewed five years ago, Dr Mason said he was happy to have done so much.
He said: "It's been a good life, one which has given me many great memories. Life's for the living."