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First Scot in space lands back in his home village 

Astronaut Dave Mackay was given a hero's welcome when he came home to Helmsdale.

A hero has returned from space to his home village in the Highlands with a special gift.

Scotland's first astronaut entranced a capacity crowd at a public gathering this week with stories of his adventures - and he's left them a lasting legacy.

Thurso-born Dave Mackay, 61, who was raised at Helmsdale in Sutherland, drew a huge crowd of fans young and old on his return to the village on Monday.

Many of the well-wishers were dressed in astronaut costumes.

The village's choir sang a range of space-related songs including David Bowie's 'Space Oddity', Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer's 'Moon River'.

In the 1960s, as a Helmsdale school pupil inspired by the Apollo missions, Mackay dreamed of becoming a spaceman.

Fast forward 50-odd years and he realised a dream, as chief pilot of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic venture that aims to make commercial spaceflight a reality.

Scotland's first astronaut was bearing a gift for his fellow villagers in the form of a stone picked from local remains of The Clearances - that he took into space.

Dreamer: Dave MacKay at school in Helmsdale in the 1960s.
Dreamer: Dave MacKay at school in Helmsdale in the 1960s. Timespan

It now has pride of place in a display at Helmsdale's Timespan museum.

While Mackay now lives in California, the Highlands remain close to his heart.

Speaking in the village where he was raised, he told STV News: "I feel Helmsdale shaped me in many ways and it's great to have that tie with the community.

"There was much help along the way, many significant people and significant places and this is definitely one of those significant places."

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