Edward James Buckingham was born in the County of Cornwall in 1972. The early years were spent enjoying the rural countryside and beaches of Cornwall, with parents and grandparents. It soon became apparent that I preferred to be outdoors, as opposed to being inside. As long as you kept me regularly fed, I was content to go along with anything. Never particularly good at anything, I was happy to get stuck in. Going along to the local primary school of St Stephens in Saltash, I mixed in and got along with the other children, particularly enjoying the sports activities and play productions put on each year. However, I did not always do as I was told, and regularly for not drinking my milk, did I find myself standing outside of class as punishment. From primary school, I then moved to Wearde Comprehensive and secondary education. Unlike some of the other children, I could not see what all the fuss and furore was surrounding the move. To me, it just seemed more individual subjects with a structured timetable. For three years I was quite happy learning, and playing sport, particularly rugby as I was big, bordering obese. Outside of education, I was enjoying the rural life and particularly working on farms with the animals and bringing in the harvests.
Earning a Living
Obtaining my GCSE’s, I started work for the Royal Mail in the summer of 1989 on the then Youth Training Schemes (YTS). It gave me a reasonably stable future, with the predominately working outdoors environment. I had strongly considered going into agriculture in some way, but the changing times in the industry put me off. Nevertheless, I still had the rural link with working on farms during the busy times. For ten years, I happily worked earning my own wage and doing many things young men do, like partying and going on lads holidays. I was also a member of Landrake Young Farmers, and enjoyed that immensely socialising, going away on weekends and taking part in competitions such as; public speaking. In that time, I took on the roles of club secretary and treasurer, giving me a strong sense of responsibility. The competition ending age of Young Farmers was 26, and I saw this as about the time to leave the club. Most people were settling down and getting married, but with nothing on the horizon for me, a new period was about to dawn.
Lying on the sofa watching the “Wish You Were Here” programme, recovering from a fractured foot Martin Roberts was following a group of people up Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It would be the catalyst for me of a long journey in a new found sport covering many continents. I had all ways been active and enjoyed walking but this would involve so much more. The altitude, the sheer physical and mental stress it puts on the body, the experience of camping for several weeks at times, visiting third world countries and meeting a wide variety of people. The thrill of climbing Kilimanjaro in 1999 would spur me on to greater challenges and demands on the body. Culminating on the 4th of January 2014 standing on top of Vinson in Antarctica completing the Seven Summits challenge. Some might say that standing on top of Everest in May 2011 was my greatest achievement but I would beg to differ. I have taken something from every trip but four mountains stand out for me. Aconcagua in 2001, Denali in 2003, Cho Oyu in 2005 and Everest in 2011. These presented my greatest challenges and pushed me to the limits in certainly the body but mentally also. It is this that I have gained most from mountaineering; my mental strength.
There have been a few along the way, but rather than turning my back and walking away, I have re-grouped and come back again. It took me three attempts in climbing Mont Blanc, the first two occasions being weather conditions. When I was successful, there was no stopping me and the phrase,”like a dog pulling on a leash” springs to mind. Glissading down the mountain on Cho Oyu was life threatening for a time. Minor frostbite on some of my toes grew concern for about five days, until reaching a clinic in Kathmandu. Recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury in 2007, to go on and then climb Everest. Also, start running with the Tamar Trotters of Saltash since 2012. Finally, don’t forget the recessions and threat of privatisation to the Royal Mail for many years.
Obviously the certificates proudly on my wall of the seven summits on each continent, remind me every time I come down the stairs or walk in the house. In September 2013, I was presented the Gorsedh award of Exceptional Endeavour by the Grand Bard. This recognises an outstanding Cornish achievement meriting international recognition for climbing Everest. My own shield, alongside the names of Pete Goss and Tassy Swallow. I am the first Cornisman to do so and now am the first Cornishman to complete the seven summits. To get through all this, I have remarkably come through unscathed. Mountaineering is an extremely dangerous life, and death is not uncommon, which I have witnessed firsthand. The minor injuries I have suffered, I have fully recovered from and live a full, healthy and active life. Lets not forget this has been a hobby to me. In 1989, Royal Mail was my chosen career and remains to this day. I have achieved all this with no funding at all. Roughly calculating spending around £80000. I have a debt to pay, but what I have taken from the experience pales into insignificance. Alongside that I have done all the training, fitness, and preparation myself, and never used any dieticians, just increase intake of food from normal diet. The motivation has all come from within Edward James Buckingham.
Climbing Everest and Vinson, I managed to raise £6000 for the British Heart Foundation. Spending time on the stand at the Royal Cornwall Show in June 1989, you meet people in a much worse quality of life than you have. Seeing their eyes light up, showing pictures and talking about what you have just achieved, quite literally brings a lump to your throat. In 2011, one week after standing on top of the world, I was at the Royal Cornwall Show on the British Heart Foundation stand. Hopefully, some of the people that I met would benefit from the money I had raised.