Belfast Telegraph

Honour for Everest climber

Freedom of Newry and a trekkers' pole

By Michael McHugh

NEWRY'S Everest conquerer will be given the Freedom of the City at the Mayor's Ball next spring, it emerged today.

Terence 'Banjo' Bannon (35) will be honoured after Newry's city status has been confirmed by Westminster statute.

The climber, who topped the world's loftiest peak on May 31, will also have a pole erected to mark his achievement outside the Town Hall.

Wording will be inscribed on it, complete with a distance sign marking the way for prospective trekkers.

The matter was discussed at a special Newry and Mourne District Council committee meeting in Newry on July 11.

A civic reception will be held for Banjo in late September and he said he was overwhelmed by the plaudits he had received.

"It is a great honour to be treated like this. I am just an ordinary fella and this is the biggest thing the council could have done for me," he said.

"It is a real privilege and I am still in shock over it. The pole will be there for all to see.

"I want it to have something about the places where we climbed and to highlight the area. It is good for young people here and it gives them admiration and inspiration."

Banjo and his team climbed the mountain on the 50th anniversary of New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary's inaugural trek in 1953.

He is the second Ulster man to reach the summit.

His team mate was from New Zealand. The two man team, aided by four others, took nearly two months to complete their epic journey and arrived back in the province to a reception of local dignitaries.

Banjo was paraded through the streets. City mayor Jack Patterson said he was pleased to recognise the local man's feat.

"This has really put the city on the map and we are delighted to be able to pay this tribute to him," he said.

"They are in the process of putting the pole up. We will be putting something on like a signpost to Everest with the mileage written on it."

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