Young mountaineer’s achievements recognised with Spirit of NI Award
by Diarmúid Pepper
Local hero Conor Bannon had his stellar achievements formally recognised at the recent Spirit of NI Awards.
This year’s Spirit of NI Awards boasted a star-studded line up which included TV presenter Eamonn Holmes, X Factor judge Louis Walsh, Derry Girls stars Ian McElhinney and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, boxing champs Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett, and many more besides.
Eleven year-old Conor suffers from an immune deficiency, for which he required fortnightly blood infusions at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
However, after a visit to the NI Children’s Hospice, Conor was struck by the even bigger battles that other children his age had to face.
As Conor himself says on his JustGiving page: “Every single day in Ireland, children with life limiting and terminal illnesses, and their loving families, climb their own mountains, face their own seemingly insurmountable challenges, and face up to incredible adversity.”
It was then that he resolved to help. Conor is the son of the legendry Terence ‘Banjo’ Bannon, the second Irishman to conquer Mount Everest, reaching the summit in 2003.
Inspired by his own dad’s mountaineering achievements, Conor undertook the huge challenge of scaling all 19,340 feet of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last October.
Despite the many obstacles, such as heavy rain and snow, temperatures of minus 15 degrees and altitude sickness, Conor preserved and completed his climb, raising over £12,000 pounds for the NI Children’s Hospice in the process.
Following his successful climb, Conor became the youngest person in Northern Ireland to complete the mammoth feat of conquering Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as becoming the youngest person worldwide to complete it via the arduous Lemosho Route.
NI Children’s Hospice provides much needed care to over 300 children and their families each year. It costs £35 for one hour of specialist nursing in a child’s home, right up to £1,030 for one full day of specialist care in the Hospice’s ‘Horizon House’.
Conor’s family generously paid for all the airfare and accommodation required for the gruelling climb, which allowed all the money raised to go directly to the NI Children’s Hospice where it will be greatly received by all concerned.