Barely a month after Pete and Joe disappeared, a small group meeting in Manchester agreed to progress an as yet undefined Boardman Tasker Memorial. The Award itself has its origins in a meeting of friends and relatives in Dorothy Boardman’s sitting room in December 1982. All those gathered there shared a desire both to preserve the memory of Joe and Pete, but also to do so in a way which would be inspirational for those who would follow. They also felt a duty to respond to people’s wish to donate to a “fitting memorial”. It was agreed that a prize for mountain literature would meet all of these objectives. A Trust was formed and over £20,000 raised through an appeal.
The first judging took place the following year in 1983. The judges, Lord Hunt, David Cox and Ronald Faux, set a high standard using the books of Joe and Pete as benchmarks. Somewhat bravely, this led them to decide not to award the prize to any of the books entered that first year as in their view the quality did not meet the level set by Pete and Joe’s works. The following year was different and there were two joint winners, Linda Gill’s Living High, and The Shishapangma Expedition by Doug Scott and the late Alex MacIntyre - the quality standard had been reached!
Over the following years, the high standards were maintained and entries challenged our judges not least through the sheer variety of literary types - novels, poetry, expeditions, biography, history, reminiscences, and mountain travel and so on. The annual award event was first held at the Alpine Club in South Audley Street until 1989 and then returned to the Alpine Club’s new premises in Charlotte Road until 2006 with the year of the actual move seeing us temporarily in a Barclays West End Management suite! In 2007, the Award event moved to Kendal with the Kendal Mountain Festival as hosts and there it remains to the benefits of both parties.
Over the first thirty years through special appeals, events and gifts the Trust has received around £60,000 in donations to support the memory of Pete and Joe through the prize. In that period, there were 526 entries, assessed by 46 different judges who selected 30 winners, enabling the Trust to distribute over £50,000 in prize money. Yet careful financial management and a steady trickle of continuing donations lead the Trustees to anticipate that we can look forward to another 30 years if the support of friends continues.
As can be seen from the website, the pace has continued to increase since the 30th anniversary and in the most recent year, 2015, there were over 30 entries. In addition, 2013 saw the launch of a Young Writers Award which produced worthy winners in 2013 and 2014. The Trust is continuing to explore how to develop this aspect of commemorating Pete and Joe and their lives and achievements.