It is with great sadness that we have to share the news that our inspirational founder, Doug Scott, passed away peacefully on the morning of December 7th, 2020.
As many of you will know Doug had been diagnosed with an inoperable cerebral lymphoma in March, and had spent the last nine months of his life at home with his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife, Trish, and his extended family. We know that many of you will be upset by this news as Doug touched the lives of so many people. He will leave a huge void.
Doug’s climbing achievements are legendary. He was the first Briton to climb Everest by the notoriously challenging South West Face, with fellow mountaineer Dougal Haston. He also made notable ascents of Changabang, Kangchenjunga, Nuptse, Shishapangma, and the Ogre where he broke both legs abseiling from the summit.
In over forty five expeditions to the high mountains of Asia he made forty first ascents. After the siege tactics on the great mountains in the 1970s, Doug was a leading advocate of the lightweight alpine-style expeditions which followed. In 2011 Doug was awarded one of mountaineering’s highest honours, the Piolet D’Or Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to his well-known climbing achievements, Doug set up the charity Community Action Nepal (CAN) in 1994 to improve the standard of living in remote Himalayan communities and give something back to the mountain people who had helped him to achieve his mountaineering goals. Doug and other mountaineers identified the need to improve the economic working practices of expedition porters, and this led them to realise that the communities they came from also faced major challenges including lack of health facilities, educational opportunities, and clean water. Over the years CAN has supported tens of thousands of people in Nepal through constructing over fifty schools, health posts, Porter Rescue Shelters and implementing many other community development projects.
Sir Chris Bonington, who led the 1975 South West Face Everest expedition and is one of CAN’s Patrons, has said of Doug that “his mountaineering achievements pale alongside his creation of Community Action Nepal and the schools, hostels, health clinics and Porter Rescue Shelters it has built and sustained over 25 years for the people of the high Himalayas. It is an outstanding charity. Well run and widely respected.”
In the earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015 the majority of the communities CAN supported were devastated, but Doug went immediately into action. He was up at 3am every morning liaising with CAN staff in Nepal, coordinating emergency relief and planning post-crisis recovery. With CAN Trustees, he spearheaded an earthquake fundraising campaign which raised over £2.5 million to rebuild earthquake resistant schools and health posts in line with ‘Building Back Better’ principles. This was an incredible achievement for a charity of CAN’s modest size, and a testament to Doug’s energy and heart.
For nearly fifty years Doug’s passion for and commitment to the mountain people of Nepal has remained a constant, even in his final days. In spite of his illness, Doug pushed himself to the limits this past summer of 2020 during the CAN Virtual Everest Stairs Challenge by putting on the iconic blue snow suit that he used on Everest 45 years ago and climbing his flight of stairs to raise funds for CAN’s Covid-19 response.
As a mountaineer and humanitarian Doug touched the lives of many in the UK and internationally and was an inspiration to the very end. It was Doug’s wish that the great work of CAN continues.
In honour of Doug’s legacy, the Trustees are totally committed to ensure that Community Action Nepal’s important work continues and maintains the values and ethos Doug so carefully developed. Doug created a network of committed supporters and volunteers across the globe, and it is with your ongoing support that we will help to sustain the health, education and livelihoods of the mountain people of Nepal. If you would like to join us in preserving Doug’s legacy and supporting healthier, better lives for Nepal’s most deserving mountain communities please consider making a gift to CAN today.
Doug’s incredible energy, enthusiasm, and compassion truly changed the world. He is truly irreplaceable. We are grateful for the time that we shared together, are inspired to continue the important work he began, and committed to emulating the example he set of how to live with bravery, integrity, and love. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.
With best wishes,
The CAN Trustees
DOUG SCOTT CBE
1941 - 2020