Tom's achievement should not be taken lightly. Of the 200 people who attempt to climb the 8,848 metre high Mount Everest each year, only 30 per cent reach the summit. Since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first climbed Mount Everest in 1953, only about 3,700 people have achieved this amazing feat. Achieving this goal was not a simple endeavour for Tom. There were many weeks, months and indeed years of long, tedious preparation. There were setbacks, frustrations, disappointments and of course temptations to change course—to do something easier.
Over the past three years Tom has worked three jobs to fund his climb. He also undertook a gruelling training regimen in preparation for reaching the summit, which included a daily 4.00 a.m. run through Ku-ring-gai National Park wearing a 40 kilogram vest, glacial ice training in New Zealand and climbing the 7,000 metre high Mount Aconcagua in Argentina in 2010. Tom did this all while studying for a master's degree, which he completed successfully in 2010. Tom's feats were impressive not only because of his extraordinary physical and mental endurance but because he used the climb to raise much-needed awareness and funds for the Stroke Foundation.
Despite countless challenges and hardships along the way, including freezing temperatures and fatigue, Tom's determination and strong will enabled him to fulfil his dream. As a result of Tom's achievement, he joins a small and exclusive club of about 70 Australians who have climbed Mount Everest. The degree of dedication, organisation, discipline and courage required to perform this remarkable feat can only be described as extraordinary. Tom is a role model not just to those in my community of Hornsby but to all citizens of New South Wales and Australia, particularly young people. Throughout their lives young people are taught to set themselves goals and to approach life with hope and optimism. Tom is testament to the success that results from goal setting and optimism. His attitude towards life and his values—hard work, integrity, determination and compassion—are ones that all individuals should aspire to embody.
Of course, none of this would have been possible for Tom without the tremendous love and support he received from his family. His parents, Margaret and Michael, his brother, Nicholas, and his girlfriend, Lauren, are justifiably proud of these wonderful achievements. The love of his late grandmother also served as a source of inspiration and constant support throughout the journey. Tom did not climb Everest because it was easy; he did it because it was hard—because it was a goal that brought out the best in him and inspired him to greatness. He