A record-breaking cyclist from the city has spoken of his pride after his pal Prince Harry attended a ball held in his honour.
Former special forces soldier Dean Stott grabbed headlines around the world in May when he became the fastest man to cycle the length of the Americas – the equivalent of cycling from Aberdeen to Bangkok and back in just 99 days.
Dean, 41, of Peterculter, was the guest of honour at the glitzy Wheels Down Ball at St James’s Place.
Before the black-tie dinner, world record breaker Dean had raised more than £500,000 for eight mental health charities – and the success of the ball has taken the total past the £700,000 mark.
The showpiece of the ball was a round table chat hosted by TV presenter Martin Bayfield, in which Dean and the Duke of Sussex – pals from when they were in the Armed Forces – chatted about their friendship and Dean’s achievement.
#WheelsDownBall The Duke of Sussex @KensingtonRoyal MC @MartinBayfield & @Dean_deanstott who’s🚲14000miles @pah_2018 #99Days&smashed2x @OWorldRecord raise awareness @heads_together & funds for charity partners incl @bestbeginnings @MindCharity @Place2Be @theCALMzone #mentalhealth pic.twitter.com/CynuPslBay
— Alison Baum OBE (@AlisonBaum) July 4, 2018
Dean said: “It was a very proud moment for me, to have the support of so many people.
“I’ve known Harry for 11 years and we speak often – the last time I’d seen him was his wedding and he had other things to be preoccupied with on that day.”
Father-of-two Dean said the Duke of Sussex had commented on the amount of weight he had lost during the 13,670-mile cycle ride along the Pan American Highway from Argentina to Alaska.
He added: “It was a fun night and all the better because the setting was so intimate. It was also a pleasure to have Martin there.
“It’s important that we keep the conversations about mental health going, and I am pleased with how the evening went.”
Among the guests were representatives of NXg Drilling Services and asset management firm Infinity Partners, both of which are based in Aberdeen.
Dean, who met Prince Harry when they were partnered during military training, had to leave the military when a parachuting injury left him unable to run.
Afterwards, Dean took up cycling and it was a chat with Harry that inspired him to take on the Pan American Highway challenge.
The quest began in February at the southern tip of South America, in Ushuaia, Argentina, and took in 13 countries. Along the way, Dean battled harsh winds, multiple collisions, bouts of food poisoning and even a run-in with a polar bear.
Dean’s wife, Alana, said: “It was a fitting night at the Wheels Down Ball in many ways because the challenge was two years in the making and we’ve been in it as a family.
“Our youngest child, Tommy, is now two and when we began planning the challenge he was still in my belly, and he got the chance to go up on the stage on the night.
“We are both pleased that people are feeling more comfortable having conversations about mental health and the superb work the eight charities do in supporting that is to be commended.”
The eight charities, which come under the Heads Together umbrella, are: Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Best Beginnings, Calm, Contact, Mind, Place2Be, the Mix and Young Minds.