In brief

6th December 2002 at 00:00
INSPIRING ACHIEVEMENT: The life and work of John Hunt. Edited by Ingrid Cranfield. The Institute for Outdoor Learning with The Foundation for Outdoor Adventure. pound;17.95 plus pound;3.50 postage. The Institute for Outdoor Learning, Plumpton Old Hall, Plumpton, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 9NP.

We all know that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first people to climb Everest and return. They were members of a team, though, and it was John Hunt, the leader, who made their achievement possible. After that success, of which the nation learned on the morning of the present Queen's coronation, Hunt gave himself unstintingly to convincing politicians, industrialists, educators - anyone who mattered - that to be challenged by terrain, distance and weather was an essential ingredient in growing up.

He was among the originators of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme (the Duke provides the foreword to this book) and lent his name and energies to a long list of youth projects, predominantly those directed at the underprivileged and disaffected. And, of course, he did his own share of working directly with young people themselves.

A forceful, charismatic yet spiritual man, Lord Hunt, as he became, embodied values that some might see as dated - and, indeed, "outdoor work" has faded in importance as schools have turned to other priorities. Our children are the poorer for that, not least because corralling energetic youngsters and turning their eyes always to their books risks causing another sort of deprivation.

This is a lively and affectionate collection of memories from about 90 of Lord Hunt's endless list of friends and contacts, and has quotations from the man himself, who died three years ago.

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