THE first Singapore-born Indian to scale Mount Everest was honoured yesterday by former president SR Nathan.

Dr Kumaran Rasappan, 28, became the first person to receive the Abdeali Tayebali Award for Courage. It was presented by Mr Nathan at a ceremony in Ang Mo Kio.

'All youths should aim to succeed in life and dream big,' said the former president.

Dr Kumaran took a year of unpaid leave from Tan Tock Seng Hospital to prepare for the Everest expedition. He described his journey as fraught with danger and uncertainty.

At times he felt like giving up, but he persisted - eventually reaching the summit on May 26. Yesterday, he encouraged others to pursue their dreams, saying: 'Everyone should have the courage to climb their own Everests.'

The new annual award is named after the family of Mr Ameerali Abdeali, a retired civil servant. Recipients will receive $5,000, which they will be encouraged to donate to a charity of their choice.

Yesterday's event was organised by self-help group Sinda, the Singapore Indian Association, and Narpani Pearavai, the Indian wing of the People's Association.

The organisations hope to encourage bravery, endurance and a spirit of adventure in the young.

Ms P. Premalatha, deputy director of Sinda's youth division, said: 'We want to tell youths that it is important to persevere and hold onto their dreams.'