Mountain climber Sion Jair has been left broken-hearted following the death of a dog that accompanied him on more than 2,000 ascents of Coniston Old Man.

Sion, of Ulverston, who is living with dementia, says spending time with the Jack Russell, called Patch, was ‘therapeutic’ and helped him though some difficult times.

The 68-year-old won national acclaim after newspapers and broadcasters, including BBC’s the One Show, told of how he climbs Coniston Old Man every day in a bid to keep his dementia at bay.

But Sion insisted: “Patch was far more famous than me. He was owned by my friend Alec Robinson , of Coniston Stonecraft, and everybody in the area knew him.

“He was 16 when he died last week, which is a good age for a Jack Russell, but I was still devastated to learn of his passing. I cried all night.

“He was such a special little dog. One day he followed me up the mountain and I was so concerned that I rang Alec, but he told me it was fine.

“From then on it became a regular thing and I have calculated that I’ve made the ascent almost 6,000 times, more than 2,000 of which have been with Patch over a five year period. He’d accompany me in all sorts of conditions and loved the snow.

“He was such a mischievous little dog – a real character – and I have so many funny stories about him. But, on a more serious note, he was good for my mental well-being too. Sometimes I struggle with my dementia because the condition can affect my mood, but Patch always lifted my spirits.”