Sir Edmund Hillary was raised in a quiet country town at the bottom of the world in New Zealand. This unremarkable schoolboy discovered early a love of mountaineering, which ultimately led to his becoming an international legend, as the first man to climb Mt. Everest in May 1953 with Tenzing Norgay, Sherpa.
For the last 50 years he has not only continued to lead expeditions to the most remote corners of the earth, but perhaps most tellingly, devoted himself to environmental and humanitarian efforts that have made a profound difference to the Sherpa communities where his famous summiting was achieved.
In 2003 Sir Edmund and Lady June Hillary celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the ascent of Everest in Nepal, with Sherpa friends and Tenzing family, and in 2004 he formally re-embraced leadership development, both in New Zealand as the patron of the Excelerator: New Zealand Leadership Institute, and internationally by lending his name to the development of the Hillary Institute and its associated Awards programme.
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, Sir Edmund was the recipient of numerous international citations including The Order of New Zealand, the country’s highest honour. He has also been awarded nine honorary doctorates and is the author of eight books. In January 2007 Sir Edmund returned to Antarctica for the final time for the 50 years celebration of his establishment of Scott Base, and to launch the Hillary Institute.
New Zealanders take great pride in this extraordinary, ordinary man, a worldwide symbol of courage, determination, leadership and humanitarian service. Sir Edmund passed peacefully in Auckland, on the morning of Jan 11, 2008, and was accorded the rare honour of a state funeral on Jan 22nd.
He will forever be an inspiration to us all.
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