Award for Services to Mountaineering

Towards the end of 2007 an odd-looking letter arrived at the ISM office. It purported to be from 10 Downing Street and bore the Royal Crest of Arms. At first we thought it was a scam or a wind-up but after the third or fourth reading it sunk in that it was the genuine article.

Basically it said that the ‘Honours Committee’ had recommended Pat for an award and that if acceptable this would be submitted to the Queen. Nothing happened then until just before New Year when the honours list for 2008 was published, then various newspapers began calling the ISM office and it transpired that Pat had indeed received an OBE for Services to Mountaineering.

To say this was unexpected would be putting it mildly. Till now the only honours given to mountaineers have been associated with Everest. Pat gave an interview to Mick Ryan of UK Climbing which is published below. To see the full news item (plus a very lively debate in the Forums) please visit:

When did you find out you were getting an OBE and how did you find out?

You get a letter a few weeks before saying you're being considered for an award and asking whether you would accept

How does it feel?

Slightly mixed feelings - I'm very much a grass roots climber and not at all the public figure I've always associated with these 'honours'. However it is nice to get some broader recognition for our sport and if it proves to be of some benefit to mountaineering, in my BMC work for example, I'll be happy.

What specifically did you get it for?

I've not been told anything beyond 'Services to Mountaineering' and wouldn't want to speculate. A positive thing about these awards is that they come out of the blue; you can't do specific things to get them.

Did you know that you had been nominated?

No - I know nothing about the process or who is involved, and it’s probably better that way.

There are some that may say that you should refuse the OBE, in fact they have said that. What do you have to say about those who are against the honours? Did you consider declining?

Not seriously, it would have been churlish and pointless and could have damaged other climber's chances of being offered awards in future. I think it is important that the value of non-competitive, non-Olympic sports is recognised, particularly by this government which has drastically cut funding to mountaineering and to other non-Olympic sports.

Finally congratulations, personally I think it is a great honour and wholly deserved. When do you go down to see the Queen?

Thanks Mick, and to all the others who have sent congratulations. No idea yet when I collect the award, but I hope it’s the same day as Kylie Minogue!