Memorial service for renowned Hastings mountaineer

Friday 31 May 2013, 4:02PM

By Hastings District Council


George Lowe
George Lowe Credit: Hastings District Council


A memorial service is to be held which will remember the life of famed mountaineer, George Lowe.

Mr Lowe was born and educated in Hastings and then left for Wellington where he trained as a teacher. He returned to Hawke’s Bay as a teacher at Parkvale School in the late 1940s’. His passion for mountaineering was developed in the Southern Alps and in 1953 he was an integral part of the successful British expedition to the summit of Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary.

George Lowe’s stamina and determination was vital in the push to the summit. While some others in the party were struck down by illness or fatigue, he led the push to create the final camp 1000 feet below the summit. The next day, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the peak of Everest.

Mr Lowe was in Hastings in 2004 to officially open the centenary celebrations at Hastings Boys High. Mayor Lawrence Yule says “I have fond memories of George from the short time I spent with him during that visit to Hastings. I was very honoured to officiate at the ceremony where he received the “Freedom of Hastings City” in recognition of his magnificent climb with Sir Edmund Hillary.”

“He was a humble man and this is best remembered by his reply to Sir Edmunds first comment after returning from the summit. To the immortal words, "Well, George, we knocked the bastard off." George Lowe replied “Thought you must have," and then offered Hillary, who disliked tea, a cup of soup from a flask.”

Lawrence Yule says “George’s widow Mary will be in Hastings to attend the memorial service along with four Nepalese Sherpa’s and many other representatives from the mountaineering and teaching world. A fitting memorial service is being planned for a man who is remembered as being among Hastings finest.”

George Lowe died in England on March 20th 2013.

The memorial service is to be held at St Mathews Church in Hastings at 10am on Sunday 30th June 2013 and will be open to the public.

Editor’s note: The only other people to be awarded the “Freedom of the City” in Hastings are Olympic rowing gold medalists, Caroline and Georgina Evers Swindell.