Chris Nelson's death inspires mum to embark on charity ride

A GRIEVING mother whose hunt for her missing son ended in heartbreak is to cycle across Scotland in an emotional tribute in his memory.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 18th January 2016, 12:54 pm
Updated Monday, 18th January 2016, 1:06 pm
Chris Nelson with his mum Donna. Picture: supplied
Chris Nelson with his mum Donna. Picture: supplied

Donna Nelson, from Eskbank, spent two weeks scouring Amsterdam after her 24-year-old son went missing in November.

Sadly, Chris’ body was recovered from a canal in the Dutch capital early last month. It is believed he lost his footing on the slippery pavement and plunged into the swirling water.

Now just weeks after the tragedy, Donna, 45, has revealed she is to embark on a challenging bike ride from Edinburgh to Iona in tribute to her son.

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“I know he’ll be behind me the whole way,” she said. “I’ll hear him saying ‘I believe in you, you can do it’.

“But I also know that the tears will be flowing. It will be such an emotional journey.”

Chris had been staying with girlfriend Stephanie Kollross in Dortmund when they decided to visit friends in Amsterdam in mid-November.

He left the flat early one morning for a short stroll. But he failed to return, sparking concern that he may have lost his way or had an accident.

Donna, who is chief executive for Lothian-based charity Pasda, which works with families of adults with autism, dashed to Amsterdam with husband Scott, also 45, to join the search, while appeals for help finding him were launched on social media.

Eventually Dutch navy experts using sonar equipment found Chris lodged between rocks and a canal houseboat, not far from the flat where he had been staying.

Donna will take on the Celtic Challenge, a 200-mile cycle ride organised by St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh, in May. She is hoping her son’s old bike can be adapted to suit her, adding extra poignancy to her challenge.

“I really don’t like cycling,” added Donna. “But there was something about this challenge that ‘spoke’ to me. I have to do it. He would have found it really funny. The idea of me cycling anywhere would have had him in stitches.”

She will cycle from Edinburgh to Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Inveraray, Oban and over to Mull before ending in Iona, where the family spent holidays camping together.

“We’re absolutely broken,” said Donna. “Chris had everything ahead of him. Some days are harder than others. But I’m determined to do this. I know that Chris will be there, encouraging me, the whole way.”

To support Donna in her cycle ride, go to

To find out more about the Celtic Challenge, visit