AN intrepid couple have honoured the memory of a tragic youngster by taking his handprint across Alaska and to the highest mountain in western Europe.
Danny Barber died of severe head injuries, aged 24, following a fight in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2009 – a week before he was due to go backpacking.
A Scots couple, Luke and Hazel Robertson, this summer took Danny’s handprint on a 2,000-mile trek across Alaska and then to the 4,808m (15,774ft) peak of Mont Blanc.
Danny’s heartbroken mother, Kathy, took a copy of his handprint before his life support machine was turned off and asked explorers to fulfil his dream by taking their own copies of the handprint with them.
Danny’s family, friends and even strangers have taken Danny’s handprint with them to a third of the world’s countries.
The trip by Luke, 32, and Hazel, 31, who live in Edinburgh, is one of the most extreme so far.
Their 75-day trip between the northernmost and southernmost points of Alaska involved kayaking, cycling, and running as well as close encounters with bears and wolves.
They are believed to be the first to complete the trek, which began in May and finished in July this year.
Just weeks later, Danny’s handprint kept them company as they reached the top of Mont Blanc in the French Alps.
Writing on their Facebook page, Everyday Exploring, they said: “Just before we set off for Alaska, we were contacted by Kathy, the mum of Danny Barber, who asked us to help with a little something.
“After hearing her incredibly touching story we didn’t hesitate.
“On 27th of May 2009, Danny and his friend were attacked in his home town of Irlam in Salford. He received such severe head injuries that he went into coma.
“Danny died surrounded by family and friends on the the 1st of June 2009.
“His organs went on to save the lives of four people.
“Danny was planning to go backpacking just the week after he died and was really looking forward to setting off on his adventure.
“In the intensive care unit, his family were allowed to take his hand print before they said their final goodbyes.
“A friend of Danny’s suggested that from then on others might take him on a symbolic trip of the journeys he wanted to take – by carrying a picture of Danny’s handprint on their own trips.
“Thanks to this, Danny is now travelling all over the world and we were so proud and honoured to play a small part in this.
“Danny’s print was with us on every single mile of our journey across Alaska. Every paddle, peddle and step. And his print kept us company to the roof of Europe.
“Thank you, Kathy, and Danny’s family for letting us be part of this.”
Both Luke and Hazel are both Explorers in Residence for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
Speaking today, Luke said: “Danny’s mother, Kathy had got in touch with us after hearing about our plans for Alaska. It’s a very inspiring and touching story so it was the least we could do.
“We weren’t aware of the story before this so Alaska was the first opportunity to take his handprint with us and then we took it up Mont Blanc.
“It was a real honour to be able to take a part of Danny with us.
“We carried the laminate in our bags the whole time so when we were kayaking, cycling, running.
“Kathy was delighted and very proud when she saw the pictures. She’s just so happy that a small part of Danny is going to all these places.
“We’ve got a lot of ideas where to go next and we will be taking Danny with us wherever we go.”
Following his death, Danny went on to save four people’s lives through organ donation.
His friends set up a Facebook page, Barber’s Travels, to share images of their beloved friends handprint travelling the world.
So far, his handprint has been to 67 countries including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan and Nepal, and to the South Pole, the Sahara and even up Mount Everest.
In 2016, Luke Robertson became the youngest Briton, the first Scot and the second youngest in history and one of less than 20 people in history to ski solo unsupported, unassisted to the South Pole, in Antarctica.
He did this after undergoing lifesaving brain surgery in 2014 which removed a large mass from his brain.
Anyone can print of a copy of Danny’s handprint and view where it has been by visiting the Danny Barber Legend website at: