Everest mountaineer John Burke has returned home to a rousing reception in county Clare, dedicated his achievements to his wife Aoibhín.
Just six days after he became the first Co. Clare man to reach the summit, the 38 year-old said that he would never have achieved his goal without his wife Aoibhín’s encouragement and support. The couple’s motivation for John taking on the challenge was the hope that it would act an example to young people to chase their dreams.
The proprietor of one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s best known hotels, the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point, and his wife Aoibhín have established a charity, Elevate, to promote wellbeing among young people and provide encouragement to them to reach their potential and follow their dreams in life.
And on his return at Shannon Airport, he said that the mental health of young people and the challenges posed by blunt end of social media are amongst the greatest issues facing Ireland today.
“I owe everything to my wife Aoibhín for supporting me on this as it was a huge sacrifice for her to make and suffice to say that her gift of golf clubs is a hint that’s not lost on me,” he quipped.
“I clearly wanted to prove something personally in making it to the top but the big reason for this, and it’s not unrelated, is that I wanted to send a message to young people that they all have the potential to achieve in life. There will be hills to climb along the way but they just have to hang in there and their day will come for sure.
“As a family we had our own tragedy with a mental health issue and that has spurred Aoibhín and I to establish Elevate. We’re not going to change the world with it but it’s our contribution and climbing Everest has given us a platform to raise awareness in Clare about this issue.”
With the charity the couple hope to raise funds for different wellbeing promotional initiatives, including workshops in Clare secondary schools – the first one starting in September – that will target raising self-esteem of young people through different medium, including song and dance.
Looking ahead to the week, John said: “I was asked what I was really looking forward to eating when I got back home and the bacon and cabbage is in the pot for tonight, along with a lot of rest. There’s a party arranged for the Armada on Friday night and the local GAA club in Milltown Malbay, which we sponsor, are putting on a reception before that. But in the meantime it’s spending time with Aoibhín and the family.”