A fundraising page set up in support of a mountaineer who faces “the biggest climb of his life” after a skiing accident left him paralysed has raised more than £40,000.
Dave Hollinger was out with his family when he suffered the devastating fall at the Lecht Ski Centre in Aberdeenshire, leaving him trapped in his own body.
The 43-year-old father-of-two, a professional British Mountain Guide, was on his final ski run when he tripped and caught the back of his neck on a snow fence post on March 11 2018, Mother’s Day.
Mr Hollinger, who moved to Carrbridge in the Scottish Highlands from Sheffield in 2016, had been able to get back on to his feet, and initial hospital scans revealed that he had a fractured vertebrae in his neck.
But, just hours later, he suffered a severe brain stem stroke caused by whiplash from the initial trauma to his neck, leaving him unable to move any part of his body or speak – despite maintaining full cognitive function.
Mr Hollinger has since been moved to the specialist STEPS neuro-rehabilitation facility in Sheffield, and is now free of a ventilator and capable of turning his head and slowly raising his hand.
A GoFundMe page has since been launched in a bid to raise funds for specialist equipment and ongoing physio, and has so far attracted donations totalling more than £40,000 in under a month.
By typing using a “simple but slow” eye-tracking system, Mr Hollinger said: “To say our world has been turned on its head would be a mild understatement.
“It is a huge mountain to climb and I am still at the bottom but climbing mountains is what I do and with the progress so far I am at least over the bergschrund.”
Mr Hollinger has been supported by his wife, Hannah, a qualified nurse who was able to recognise the signs of his brain stem stroke and raise the alarm.
She, Toby, four, and Finley, eight, had been in Sheffield to be near the climber, but are set to return to Carrbridge later this month.
Mrs Hollinger added: “As you can imagine, for someone who was always so active to be so immobilised is incredibly frustrating for him but compared to where Dave was last March, where he only had eye movement, he has made huge amounts of progress.
“It’s going to be a long haul, and this is certainly the biggest climb of his life so far but if anyone can do this, it’s my husband.”
Donations to the fundraiser can be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/inspired-by-dave