LEGENDARY mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington is to use a landmark birthday this year to highlight the condition which claimed the life of his wife Wendy.

The Cumbrian climber turned 80 last Wednesday and is planning to use the coming year to improve awareness of motor neurone disease (MND), for which there is no cure and about which there is very little known.

He and his family are also raising funds online for three groups, including the Motor Neurone Disease Association, which funds research into MND and provides support, along with Hospice at Home and Cumbria Crossroads, which both helped the family during Wendy’s illness.

Sir Chris started climbing in 1951, at the age of 16, and it has been his passion ever since.

During more than 60 years of adventure, he has undertaken and led 19 Himalayan expeditions, including four to Everest.