FIVE Winchester bus drivers successfully climbed the highest mountain in Wales to raise £1,600 for a Hampshire hospice in tribute to one of their colleagues.

The staff of Stagecoach South tackled Mount Snowdon in aid of Countess Mountbatten.

Gareth Corps, Trevor Kimber, Christ Guttridge, Santa Thapa and Haydon Hebb all work out of the Winchester depot.

They took part in this climb in memory of their former driver colleague Brian Bell, who passed away recently after being cared for by the Countess Mountbatten Hospice.

Mr Corps said: “We’re very proud of our achievement and so glad we can show our support for our much respected colleague Brian in this way. Countess Mountbatten Hospice is a great cause and the money we’ve raised from this climb will really make a difference to the people and families they help at a time when they really need support.”

The drivers were aided in their challenge by volunteer, Ken Vance, a brother of the Jesuit Order, who gave them free accommodation in the Welsh coastal town of Barmouth before their climb.

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales standing at an elevation of 1,085 metres above sea level. It is the busiest mountain in the United Kingdom and was first climbed in 1639 by botanist Thomas Johnson.

Countess Mountbatten Hospice supports people with life-limiting illnesses and their families, with priorities of providing care and compassion. It has been running for over 40 years and supports a community of over 720,000 people across Southampton and south central Hampshire.

Edward Hodgson, managing director of Stagecoach South, said: “I’ve got great admiration for the way our drivers have committed to honouring their colleague and committing to a physical challenge that’s a long way from their day-to-day role behind the wheel for us.

"What they have achieved is fantastic and I know everyone across the company is very proud of their efforts. The company has pledged to donate £250 to the funds they have raised for Countess Mountbatten Hospice, which is a great local charity doing vital work for the community across the south.”