Sir Edmund Hillary died on Friday 11 January 2008, aged 88. WIth him goes another piece of Everest history. Yet his name will live on for generations - not so much for being one of the first to climb Mount Everest - but for the legacy he has built in the villages that sit in Everest's shadow. Sir Ed's achievement is remarkable because he used his fame to enrich others, not himself. He dedicated 50 years of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal. Setting up the Himalayan Trust, he has worked tirelessly to raise funds to build 26 schools, 2 hospitals, 30 clinics, an airport and many bridges. Scholarships support children and funds assist monks' educations as well as monastery repairs/improvements. The Trust was instrumental in helping rebuild Tengboche Monastery after it was destroyed by fire in 1989.
Trek in the Everest region and it's easy to understand Sir Ed's love affair with the people and the mountains. Most of us leave Nepal with a similar love and admiration for these tough but generous people. Not many of us devote our lives to making theirs better. Sir Edmund Hillary was one of the few that did. In my book, that makes him a real hero.
Standing in front of the statue of Sir Ed at the Sir Edmund Hillary High School in Khumjung, Nepal