AN inspirational CalMac worker is set to honour a much-missed colleague by scaling Mongolia’s highest peak in a gruelling charity challenge.

Gary Ferguson is jetting off to the east Asian nation in July to climb three colossal peaks in the Altai range in memory of local ferry skipper Matt Ashwood, who tragically died of cancer during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

The 57-year-old’s fundraising trek will see him complete three demanding climbs as he raises cash for Ardgowan Hospice.

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Gary told the Telegraph that he hoped to pay tribute to his colleague and bring in plenty of money for the worthy cause in the process.

Greenock Telegraph: Matt Ashwood

He said: “I spoke to Matt’s son and his widow Lesley and said I would like to do something in his memory.

“Ardgowan Hospice was suggested as I believe he spent some time here before he passed away.

“This is a charity who helps people that are coping with life limiting illnesses and living with that stress in their lives and in their families’ lives.

“I worked on-shore while Matt was a skipper for quite a number of years and then the first year I went onto the boats Matt was my first skipper.

“He was very supportive and helpful.

“Quite often people who were transferring onto the small ferry fleet would be put on that shift to work with Matt and another skipper who were very good at training people up.

“When he passed away I described him like a very good chocolate – crispy on the outside but with a soft centre.

“He was a lovely guy who would do anything for you and he’s much-missed.”

This will not be the first time Gary has gone the extra mile for a good cause – the ferry firm employee has also embarked on fundraising treks across Peru, Borneo and Ecuador for other causes.

He has been to Machu Pichu in Peru, then Borneo, then the Crocker Mountains before climbing volcanoes in Ecuador.

His latest adventure will see him scale Malchin at 13,240 feet and the 13,720ft Nairandal, before reaching the country’s highest point, Khuiten, at 14,350ft.

Greenock Telegraph: Inspirational CalMac worker is set to honour a much-missed colleague by scaling Mongolia’s

Gary added: “It’s always quite emotional doing these charity challenges.

“Everybody on these things has a reason for doing it and when you get there and reach that goal the emotion always hits you like a tonne of bricks.

“It’s important to support causes like this in the current economic climate because charities like this aren’t often recognised by local government.

“Ardgowan is able to support people on a local basis in their home area rather than them having to travel elsewhere.”

An hospice spokesperson said: "Taking on overseas challenges is not only essential in raising funds for Ardgowan Hospice, but it also plays a vital role in raising the profile of our charity.

“These incredible adventures allow individuals to push their limits, promote our cause on a global scale, and create lasting impact for the patients and families we support.

“If you would like to find out more about the opportunities we can help put you in contact with, please email"

Those wishing to donate to Gary's fundraiser should visit