John O


My nickname was inevitable, thanks to a shared surname with a certain 1970s heavy metal vocalist.

My first experience of hillwalking came at the age of 10 on a family holiday to Wales. Summiting a peak in the Black Mountains (sadly I can’t remember the name), set in me a love of the hills that remains to this day.

Growing up in Surrey, then moving to London in my mid-20’s, meant that at that time geography was the major obstacle to getting into the mountains. Now, running my own business, the major challenge is time! Despite this, every year I have ensured I get out into the hills, both in the UK and further afield.

In recent years I have been drawn to longer or higher mountain ‘challenges’. These have taken me to some amazing places, meeting some fantastic people, and given me memories that will last a lifetime. These include:

  • Kala Patthar & Everest Base Camp (Nepal Himalaya)
  • Ausangate Circuit (Peruvian Andes)
  • Salkantay Trek (Peruvian Andes)
  • Mera Peak (Nepal Himalaya)

Stu was not only my brother-in-law, he was one of my best friends. 19 years ago we went on our first ‘boys holiday’, to the Picos De Europa in northern Spain. We had such an amazing time that we went on a walking trip every year until 2019. That trip to the Picos remains one of my best holidays ever, and we were reminiscing about it via WhatsApp, in the days before Stu was taken from us, far too young, from prostate cancer.

There is therefore no more fitting way to remember Stu, and hopefully raise a lot of money for Prostate Cancer UK than by walking the West Highland Way, as a Band Of Brothers.

Ed: Unfortunately John was forced to withdraw from the Hike. He was diagnosed with mouth cancer and in mid-May 2022 completed a course of radiotherapy which prevented him from participating. We wish him all the best, trust that his treatment is successful, and hope to see him out on the hills again soon.

You’were with us in spirit, John, and we won’t forget your contribution – financial and spiritual!