TWO charities have benefited from donations of £2,000 given at a service to celebrate the life of a popular and well-respected Malton man.

Stephen Major – Steve to those who knew him – died at the age of 55 while riding his mountain bike in his beloved Dalby Forest just two weeks before Christmas.

Members of Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team, who happened to be fundraising at the visitor centre at the time, joined paramedics to try to save Steve, sadly to no avail.

A post mortem examinsation showed that Mr Major had been suffering from heart problems and that led to his wife, Jackie, urging people to get a check-up by their local doctor. It is understood that many people have heeded her call.

Now the collection given by hundreds of family and friends at the funeral service has been handed over to the mountain rescue team and the British Heart Foundation by Steve’s widow, Jackie, and his two daughters, Nicole and Olivia.

In the months before his death, Mr Major, who was an electrician and ran his own firm, Major Electricals, had often said he felt cold and experts attribute this to slow circulation arising from his heart problems.

Last week, Ann Barron, chairman of the Malton branch of the BHF, and Andrew Priestley, treasurer of Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team, were presented with the cheques at the Majors’ home in Malton.

Mrs Barron said: “It is an amazing amount of money. I know the family and the money will be going to pioneering research taking place at the moment.”

Mr Priestley, whose organisation is involved in dozens of call-outs each year, said: “We rely entirely on donations and so we are extremely grateful for this generous sum of money.”

Mr Major was keen on outdoor pursuits, such as mountain biking, and had also been involved with paragliding and hangliding.

Mrs Major said: “We are extremely grateful for all the support we have received and for the donations which have enabled us to help these two charities and the work they do.

“Steve died doing something he was passionate about and we want to say thank you again to all those who tried to help him.”