AN 86-YEAR-OLD blind veteran was surprised by his soldier granddaughter minutes before his ambitious attempt at climbing Ben Nevis.

Peter Burbery, who lives in Mile Oak, took on the challenge of climbing the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom with fellow veteran and walking partner Chris Cheeseman, 50, from Portslade.

Peter served in the Royal Sussex Regiment in the 1950s for two years, while Chris was in the Royal Navy for seven years from 1990 and now volunteers with Blind Veterans in Ovingdean.

Ahead of his ambitious attempt at climbing the 1,345 metre mountain in Scotland, Peter was surprised by his granddaughter Sallyanne Burberymayes, 24, who serves in the Royal Artillery.

The Argus: Peter Burbery and Sallyanne Burbery-MayesPeter Burbery and Sallyanne Burbery-Mayes

Chris told The Argus: “There was a little confusion because she sounds so much like her mum, it took him a minute to realise.

“She just said ‘hello Grandad, it’s Sally. Can I climb the mountain with you?’.

“She did the lion’s share of the guiding, she was absolutely thrilled to be a part of it.”

Unfortunately, around halfway up the party realised they would not have time to make the summit and come back down again at their current pace.

The Argus: From left, Sallyanne, Peter and Richard Cruice who is another blind veteranFrom left, Sallyanne, Peter and Richard Cruice who is another blind veteran

They made the tough decision to turn back but Chris said they were still proud of their achievement.

He said: “We were feeling confident, we got to the half height point. It took us another 40 minutes to get to our planned stop point as the trail got so rough.

“We asked Pete what he fancied doing, we described the situation he was in. We were just below a point where the trail was going to deteriorate quite significantly.

The Argus: The group approaching the half way pointThe group approaching the half way point

“We just wanted him to know it was his call, his first question without even asking was ‘how is everybody else feeling? Will they be disappointed if we turn back?’.

“Of course the answer was no. That speaks to what sort of man he is.

“We have still done an amazing thing, leaving it behind knowing we couldn’t have done any more is much as an achievement as having that photo at the summit. Let’s get home safely.

The Argus: Peter and ChrisPeter and Chris

“There was never any doubt on the level of fitness, there wasn’t any question of the commitment of getting it done, we purely weren’t able to navigate the obstacles any faster.

“We couldn’t afford to be on the mountain for that amount of time.”

Also in the party was Sallyanne's father Alan Mayes, who was in the Catering Corps attach to the Scots Guards, blind veteran Richard Cruice, who served in the Grenadier Guards, and Richard’s partner Julie Ault.

Asked whether there was any disappointment in having to turn back, Chris said “absolutely not”.

The Argus: Sallyanne holding her Royal Artillery flag along with Peter and ChrisSallyanne holding her Royal Artillery flag along with Peter and Chris

He added: “We were very focused because of course we were feeling quite tired.

“The mood was good, we were all in good spirits. Obviously we were moving slower than everybody else, we saw people coming up and down. Almost everyone stopped and asked how far we made it and congratulating Peter.

“He was glad he gave it a go and was grateful for the opportunity to try it.

“There was one beautiful moment at the bottom of the mountain when we met a local chap with his five-month-old daughter strapped to him taking her out for some mountain air.

“So we saw the oldest person and youngest person on the mountain shake hands.”

Peter and Chris want to raise more than £4,000 for Blind Veterans and have so far got just over £1,000.

For more information or to donate, visit their JustGiving page.