The Everest Lecture
The second annual Everest lecture in honour of mountaineer OM Lord John Hunt (C2 1924-28) and other Old Marlburians on the successful expedition of 1953 was given by Adele Eastman, fiancée of OM Tom ap Rhys Pryce (B1 1988-93). Tom was tragically robbed and killed, aged 31, as he walked home from a London Tube station on 12 January 2006 and Adele made the subject of her lecture a metaphorical moral Everest on her subsequent fight for social justice.
Adele and Tom had successful law careers and were due to marry shortly before he was murdered. His senseless death brought about an ‘Everest of grief’ for Adele and the realisation that she must channel her anger and bitterness into something positive to avoid being consumed by it. Tom’s parents, fiancée and Linklaters LLP (the law firm at which Tom worked) established the charity, Tom’s Trust as a lasting memorial to Tom.
Adele’s talk outlined that the goals of Tom’s Trust were to provide educational and vocational training opportunities for children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and also to help tackle the root causes of violent gang culture and street crime. So far the Trust has raised £1.5 million through donations and fund-raising, which has helped to fund a diverse range of projects including bursaries at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge where Tom studied. The Trust will last for 25 years, the length of life Tom should have enjoyed.
As a result of the success of the Trust’s work she was invited to work for the Centre for Social Justice, a Westminster think-tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith which addresses the root causes of poverty and social breakdown in society. Adele produced the “No Excuses Report”, a review of Educational Exclusion about which she went on to explain.
It examines the heavy price society is now paying for not addressing the underlying causes behind persistent disruptive behaviour at school that leads to the cycle of exclusion, and then to criminal activity. She cited statistics that over half of children born today will experience family breakdown before the age of 16, that fatherless families, parents abusing drugs and alcohol, and street gangs, all now provide schools with serious challenges. The tragic fact that schools can exclude children, sometimes below the age of eight, on a permanent basis, can seal their fate from an early age. The key recommendations made as a result were for early intervention, parental engagement, inclusion in mainstream schools and teacher training.
Tom’s Trust has also helped to fund Kids Company, a charity which helps 17,000 vulnerable inner city children ‘survive their childhood’. Two years ago a group of Marlburians visited this charity with Mr Lamont to see the work of the charity at first hand.
Adele Eastman’s ‘Moral Everest’ has brought about an inspiring personal journey and if the social conscience of just one young Marlburian in the audience today was pricked she has achieved another victory in Tom’s name.