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25 years on...still going strong

In November 1992 we were working hard to get our shop in Peebles opened. We were living in a draughty old shepherd's cottage in the Moorfoot Hills at the time and one day, our landlady remarked that there was a famous mountaineer coming to give a fundraising talk in aid of the village hall. It seemed unlikely but yes, Chris Bonington was coming to Carrington.
It proved to be a memorable evening that people still occasionally mention to us today. Standing room only with an eclectic audience of school children, Women's Institute stalwarts, elders of the kirk and a smattering of outdoor enthusiasts. It probably wasn't the kind of gathering Bonington was used to speaking to but his professionalism and communication skills ensured that his stories came alive for everyone in the room.
At the end of the presentation we joined the scrum of autograph hunters and got his signature on a poster which we hung in our new shop on the day it opened. It stayed on the wall for quite a few years and, even after we took it down, we never got rid of it.

Chris Bonington's mountaineering exploits are, of course, thoroughly documented in his many expedition books and his volumes of autobiography. But around about 2014, while chatting to adventure film cameraman Keith Partridge, we realised that there was also a film in the pipeline. It's been a protracted labour of love for Keith and his fellow film-maker, Brian Hall, and we were really pleased to hear that it would be premiered at this year's Kendal Mountain Festival and delighted at the lovely coincidence of it being almost exactly 25 years since we'd first heard Bonington speak.
Bonington:Mountaineer will be available for purchase from 20th November and we'd recommend seeing it if you can. If, like me, you grew up in the era of his big Himalayan climbs the film will put a poignant, more humane face on the tales of derring-do that were frequently broadcast from the Blue Peter studios. (The book of the Annapurna South Face Expedition is the first book I remember borrowing from the library, a possibly eccentric choice for a 7 year old girl). A younger viewer might be surprised at the quantity of beer and fags it took to fuel the expeditions! For Out & About the trip to see the premiere in Kendal was an enjoyable celebration of our 25th anniversary of business in Peebles. We had a brief opportunity to speak to Chris before the film began and he kindly re-signed our poster from all those years ago. His infectious enthusiasm for life's adventures is still potent and it was good to see that 25 years on he, like us, is still going strong.

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