Bonita Norris is the youngest British woman at just 22 years of age to climb Mount Everest. Remarkably Bonita had never climbed before this challenge! She had to raise her own sponsorship, learn how to climb and entered the record books all within the space of two years. “I started sponsorship raising whilst still writing my dissertation, training down in Devon co-incided with my finals and my first expedition to the Alps was a week after my dissertation.” She is now training for her next expedition which will be a three woman expedition to the South Pole in 2012. Action girl, Bonita is keen to experience as many different adventures as she possibly can. “Never, ever stop believing in yourself. You never know where you might end up”.
“I couldn't sleep one night and the idea hit me like a bolt of lightening. Everything I imagined it to be like- the training, the climb, raising the sponsorship. It was like a vision and all of it has come true down to a T. I still find it hard to believe.”
Born in Reading, Bonita grew up and went to school in Hampshire and Berkshire. She studied Media Arts at the University of London. As a school girl she enjoyed athletics (long distance track), horse riding, walking in the countryside and cycling. Bonita loved climbing trees, riding her bike and exploring the woods at the back of the family home. But it was a school trip to Wales, when she was ten years old that was a real turning point in her life- she discovered trekking, climbing, abseiling and going down mines! She really loved the adventure and physical demands; they filled her with a new found confidence.
When she hit her teens, she suddenly dropped all her hobbies and decided she was not into sport at all. By the time she was fifteen years old she was suffering from severe Bulimia. At its worst she was making herself sick 7-8 times a day for up to a week at a time. She had suffered from childhood obesity and an obsession with computer games had not helped. To her dismay she found that she could not get professional help for her disorder so she took things into her own hands, and started running. She vowed that one day she would talk about her experiences and hope to inspire other young people to recover from their own disorders through exercise and positive thinking. As her running went to strength to strength she felt more confident and happier. She went on to run her first half marathon at 17 (Reading) and first full marathon at 19 (London).
As a result, Bonita is passionate about adopting a healthy attitude to your body shape and to food. “I refuse to diet and believe wholeheartedly in using exercise, the outdoors and a passion for activities such as climbing, running and tennis to keep fit and happy. Love being in your own skin”. She is staunchly against air brushing to make the subject thinner in all forms of media and will not allow any of her own photographs to be re-touched like this.
She has ‘A’ grade passes at A-level in Geography, Media Studies and Business Studies. Geography A level was her first contact with Everest- her teacher's brother was climbing it and she eagerly read his daily blog. She has a degree in script writing.
Bonita says, “I am all for a little pressure and competition, I think it’s healthy to make kids realise that it takes hard work to be a winner, not everyone is the same- the ones that work the hardest will be the best.”