LEGACY: Fund in memory of Esther Dingley who died hiking solo in mountains between Spain and France helps the blind

A FUND launched in memory of British hiker Esther Dingley who died in a fall while walking in the Pyrenees last November and lay undiscovered until August, has raised thousands of pounds to help the blind.

Donations have flooded in to a cause set up by grieving partner Dan Colegate, who was the one that found Esther’s body after police searches proved fruitless.

He discovered the remains of her body and belongings in early August close to where her skull had been found by hikers two weeks earlier.

Authorities believe Dingley, who was an experienced hiker, slipped and fell down a sheer slope close to the 2,300ft peak of the Port de la Glère.

On Friday, Colegate announced that her loved ones had scattered her ashes “among the places that she loved the most” and said donations made in her memory were enough to help 300 blind people regain their sight.

Colegate said the charity Sightsavers had been chosen because “Esther enjoyed sharing the beauty of the world through her photography and it upset her that some people cannot see it for preventable reasons”.

The fundraising had so far raised £9,165 to help cure preventable blindness.

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Dan and Esther. Photo by Dan colegate

In a Facebook post, Colegate said: “I wanted to let you know that a while ago now, Esther was laid to rest, according to her wishes, among the places that she loved the most.

“Prior to her cremation, so many messages arrived from all over the world, all of which I read to Esther and which also gave comfort to myself and other members of the family.

“At the same time, the response to Esther’s fundraiser has been deeply touching, with enough money raised to give over 300 adults or 100 children back their sight (as confirmed in a thank you message from the charity’s fundraising director).

“Thank you all so much for your kindness and generosity of spirit, which I see as a humbling reflection of Esther’s own beauty and gift for connecting with people.

“While the pain of her absence haunts me constantly, I try to remain grateful that Esther, for reasons I’ll never understand, chose to share so much of that gift with me.

“I don’t know if I will ever post here again, however, this page, along with the other social pages, will remain online just as they are now, as part of Esther’s legacy.

“With love and best wishes to everyone who has supported us through this difficult time.

“Live life bravely, and gently, and kindly. And smile at strangers. It’s the best memorial Esther could have wished for.”

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Esther dingley. Photo by Dan colegate

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