Edward Norton

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The Hindu

Edward Norton was on Mallory’s team to the Everest. Norton was accompanied on that 28,000 feet climb by a would-be medical missionary, Dr. Theodore Howard Somervell, later an FRCS. It is related that, after the 1922 Everest expedition, Somervell decided to explore India from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, and the poverty he saw on the trip got to him. He decided to help out at the Southern Travancore Medical Mission Hospital in Neyyoor, now in Kanniyakumari District, that had only one missionary doctor and a minimal nursing staff but a large number of patients turning up every day. For the next 24 years (1925-49) he stayed there, making it one of the largest missionary hospitals in the country. Over the years, the Mission has grown and expanded its activities. A hospital and medical college named Dr. Somervell Memorial CSI Medical College and Hospital was established in 2002 in Karakonam, 30 km south of Trivandrum and on the road to Kanniyakumari. Meanwhile, in 1949, Somervell moved to Vellore Christian Medical College as Associate Professor of Surgery and worked there till he retired in 1961. Besides medicine, painting was a passion and he painted hundreds of Himalayan scenes as well as scenes in other parts of India. Many of his paintings were done during his two Everest climbs and featured the mountain in all its glory. Some of these paintings now hang in the Royal Geographical Society’s premises. He was also a good arranger of music. By the time he died in 1975, he was a much-honoured doctor but what he would have felt that honored him most was the mourning in Neyyoor.

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