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Hillary Scholars Follow In Sir Ed’s Footsteps On Virtual Trek To Nepal

Courtney Richmond

23-year-old Courtney Richmond and a group of her fellow Waikato University Hillary Scholars have launched Trek to Nepal, a campaign to trek the distance from New Zealand to Nepal to raise funds for Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust.

The inspiration for the 11,965-kilometre virtual trek came to the Master of Arts student in a dream. “I had a dream that I was hiking on a mountain in Nepal with Sir Ed,” said Courtney. “I was struggling, and he said ‘come on, get up!’”

After a stressful year of study due to COVID-19 disruptions, the dream encounter with Sir Ed motivated Courtney to set up Trek to Nepal with the help of fellow Hillary Scholars David Simes, Hannah Jensen, Jana Kivell and Kaydi O'Connor.

“If we’re all having a hard time in 2020, what is the rest of the world like? I thought about people in Nepal, and that we need to do something to help,” said Courtney.

Participants can walk, pedal, climb, crawl, push, or do a combination of activities to add their distance to the 11,965-kilometre goal. The funds raised will go towards quality education, safe water and better healthcare in the Everest region, as well as COVID-19 prevention and humanitarian support.

For the organisers, Trek to Nepal is an important part of giving back. “It’s a privilege to be a scholar,” said David Simes. “That’s why we’re really passionate about honouring Sir Ed’s legacy and supporting the people of Nepal. The least I can do for having a world-class education is walk!”

The virtual trek will begin on 9 November 2020. In the meantime, Courtney, David and their fellow Hillary Scholars are welcoming anyone who wants to help reach the collective 11,965-kilometre goal and fundraise for the Himalayan Trust to sign up at

Background information – Himalayan Trust

The Himalayan Trust was founded by Sir Edmund Hillary in the 1960s when he built the first schools and hospitals in the foothills of Everest in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal. Since then, the Himalayan Trust has been working with local communities to bring quality education, safe water and better healthcare to the region.

The Himalayan Trust provided immediate humanitarian support after the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and helped to rebuild earthquake-strengthened infrastructure. The Trust is now also funding hygiene and medical supplies and PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Solukhumbu District.

For more information visit

Background information – Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme

The Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship is the University of Waikato's most prestigious student scholarship programme.

Named in honour of New Zealand's greatest adventurer, the programme educates scholars within the values of Sir Ed and supports their growth and excellence in sport, creative and performing arts, academia, and leadership.

Hillary Scholars are supported to pursue their passion while completing their qualification at the University of Waikato and receive tailored personal development and leadership training throughout their studies.

For more information visit

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