Henry Cecil John Hunt, Lord Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine, KG, CBE, DSO
Leader of the 1953 expedition, John Hunt had climbed in the Himalayas since the 1930s, applying to join the 1936 expedition, for which he was turned down on medical grounds. He was chosen at short notice to replace Eric Shipton on the 1953 expedition, and quickly won round his skeptical team mates with his warmth, dedication, and impressive organizational skills.
Educated at Marlborough College, John Hunt passed first in his year to the Royal Military College, was awarded the Anson Sword on passing out, and had a distinguished army career. He was twice decorated in World War II, reaching the rank of brigadier. He climbed his first alpine summit at the age of 14 and afterward climbed throughout the world whenever he could, in particular taking advantage of service in India to make several adventurous forays into the Himalayas. A very gifted linguist, he volunteered in India for anti-terrorist work with the police and was also much engaged with young people, diverting the energies and enthusiasm of young Bengalis to sporting and other activities.
Three years after the Everest success, he retired early from the army, and spent the rest of his life in public service, mainly concerned with young people and with mountaineering, but also with the rehabilitation of prisoners and their early release on proof of good conduct. He undertook difficult government assignments in Nigeria and in Northern Ireland. His lifetime of service was recognized by his appointment as a life peer and by the Order of the Garter.