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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
British man scores polar success
The explorers
The intrepid explorer has three more poles to go
A British man has completed the first leg of his quest to reach all four North Poles.

Jim McNeill, a Windsor Castle fireman, was accompanied by five novices recruited by a newspaper advert.

They planted the St George flag at the Geomagnetic pole on Tuesday morning and will do the Geographic, Arctic and Magnetic poles over the next two years.

Speaking to BBC News Online from their Arctic base camp, Mr McNeill said he hoped to inspire children.

Mr McNeill, who had to cancel a solo trek last year because of illness, said: "It is getting back to the old-fashioned notion of enthusing children into adventure and getting them off their bottoms.

It is absolutely stunning, awe-inspiring, and at the same time deadly dangerous and treacherous
Jim McNeill
"The newspaper advert harks back to the golden age of exploration and is a nod to Ernest Shackleton, who did the same.

"We had over 200 applications from the tiny advert and we put them through a selection process, 10 months of training and three months of Arctic training."

He said his team, comprising of Berkshire firefighter Mark Wood, nurse Fizzy Lillingston, from Suffolk, lifestyle consultant Julia Stacey, from Oxfordshire, and outdoor adventure instructors Dave Hughes and Matt O'Brien, both from Pembrokeshire, was the best he had worked with.

Mr McNeill, 43, who also planted a flag for Cancer Research UK in memory of his father-in-law said there was not one cross word during their 28-day trek across the ice, before being picked up by an aircraft and whisked back to base camp.

"You spend a lot of your time just surviving, just to walk around in the Arctic environment is very painful.

"But it is absolutely stunning, awe-inspiring, and at the same time deadly dangerous and treacherous."

The Geographic pole is the top of the axis on which the earth spins, the Magnetic pole is where the compass points to, and the Arctic pole is the point on the Arctic Ocean furthest from any land.

The Geomagnetic pole is the north end of the axis of the geomagnetic field which surrounds the Earth and extends into space as the magnetosphere.

They are all hundreds of miles apart.

Flesh-eating bug ends Arctic trek
24 Mar 03  |  England
Fireman starts epic polar trek
03 Mar 03  |  England

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