THE family and friends of a mountain bike enthusiast who died suddenly last year are hoping to build a new forest trail in his memory.

Neil Polson, 37, died in September after suffering a heart attack.

But instead of installing a traditional bench, his family are determined to give the engineer a lasting legacy by constructing a mountain bike trail in Hamsterley Forest, County Durham.

Mr Polson’s work colleague and friend, Conrad Guyatt, is leading the fundraising campaign and said the forest was a favourite of Mr Polson, who lived in West Yorkshire but was from Darlington, and particularly appropriate as it was where his ashes were scattered.

Talking about the plans, he added: “Neil's family chose Hamsterley forest to scatter his ashes.

“This is a place where they spent a lot of happy family time together while growing up.

“In more recent years it's where Neil enjoyed many a happy and muddy mountain bike rides with both his family and his many friends.

“Neil will never be forgotten but we believe it would be a fitting tribute to him if we could play a part in developing a new and permanent mountain bike trail in his memory to give something back to the Hamsterley community and to help develop the next generation of mountain bikers.”

Mr Guyatt praised the generosity of the public who have so far donated more than half of their £5,000 target.

Several fundraising events are also being planned throughout the year including a coast to coast challenge and completing the Great North Run.

He added: “We have had a phenomenal response in just one week with over £2,770 donated to date without us having done any fundraising yet, testament to the effect Neil had on people’s lives in his 37 years.”

Mr Guyatt, 39, said planning permission had already been granted for the trail and had the full support of the Hamsterley Trailblazers, a charity of mountain bike enthusiasts who will be helping create the route which will lead to where Mr Polson’s ashes are scattered.

It is hoped the work on the new trail will begin in May but the group are also appealing for volunteers to help build it.

Hamsterley Trailblazers chairman, Neil Gander said: “We were really pleased to hear about this idea.

“Hopefully when the people who knew him ride down the new trail they will have a thought for him.”

To donate visit or to volunteer visit or search for Hamsterley Trailblazers on Facebook.