A FARMER and councillor who conquered Everest four years ago is returning to the world's highest mountain to lead an expedition celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first ascent.

When Councillor Chris Brown takes part in a 19,000ft-high base camp celebration, he will mark the occasion by sticking a flag into the icecapped landscape which proclaims "Keep Britain Farming".

The same miniature silk flag fluttered from the top of Everest after Coun Brown, a farmer in Baldersby, North Yorkshire, and a Harrogate Borough councillor, completed his climb of the 29,000ft mountain in 1999.

Coun Brown, a former leader of the council's Conservative group who represents Wathvale, near Ripon, conquered Everest at his third attempt.

His return to the base camp from which he achieved his lifetime's climbing ambition will be an emotional moment.

With him will be his 25-year-old son, Matthew, on his first major climb.

Also joining the landmark trek wll be Matthew's back-packing colleague from Ripon, 24-year-old Phil Brogden, and Chris I'Anson, boss of the Masham animal feeds manufacturers.

As a six-year-old, Coun Brown recalled the Queen's Coronation celebrations being marked by the triumphant British-led expedition of Everest half a century ago.

The successful expedition in 1953 was led by Sir John Hunt and saw New Zealander Edmund Hilary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay reach the peak just prior to the Queen's Coronation.

But because of communication delays, news did not reach Britain until Coronation celebrations were getting under way.

Coun Brown said: "Returning to Everest to mark the 50th anniversary will be a very emotive time for me."

Meanwhile, Coun Brown's slide-shows of how he finally conquered Everest have proved a charity fundraising success.

He has raised more than £120,000 in sponsorship and lectures for the Claro Enterprises Workshops, of which he is chairman.

He established them to provide work for the mentally ill in Starbeck, Harrogate.