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Fiona Thornewell talks to the BBC
"We can't put it into words - it's phenomenal"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 January, 2000, 23:58 GMT
Heroes' welcome for Pole record trio

Record breakers: Fiona and Catharine


A trio of explorers have returned home to a heroes' welcome after making history on a trek to the South Pole.

Fiona and Mike Thornewill and Catharine Hartley flew into Heathrow Airport where they were met by members of their families amid emotional scenes.


I have had this dream for 30 years. If you have got a dream be bold and make it come true
Mike Thornewill
Mr and Mrs Thornewill became the first husband and wife team to walk to the South Pole last week, while Miss Hartley and Mrs Thornewill became the first British women to do so.

Looking tired but elated after their long flight home from Chile via Madrid, the adventurers said they were delighted to be back in Britain at last.

Dozens of their friends and members of their families waving banners and flying Union Jack balloons cheered as the explorers arrived back at Terminal One.

Corks popped

Champagne corks popped and tears were shed as the adventurers were reunited with their loved ones.

And Mr Thornewill urged other "ordinary people" to chase their dreams as he and his wife had done.

He said: "It is just such a privilege that ordinary people, if they have a dream and are serious about it, can do something about it in this country.


Fiona and Mike: Pole's first married couple
"I have had this dream for 30 years. If you have got a dream be bold and make it come true."

He said their adventure had been a great start to the millennium and that renewing their marriage vows at the South Pole had meant a lot to the couple.

"It was a fitting end to being the first husband and wife team to trek to the pole," Mrs Thornewill added.

Mr Thornewill, a 37-year-old policeman, and his wife, 33, who is a recruitment consultant, were returning to their home in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.

The couple, who battled against 40 knot winds and temperatures of -35 Celsius to reach their goal, were forced to overcome a series of mishaps which plagued their 966-mile trek during which they pulled 200lb sleds loaded with equipment and food.

Adventure of a lifetime

Mr Thornewill badly damaged his right knee and both suffered from severe frostbite as well as debilitating weight loss.

Mrs Thornewill has been told she might be permanently scarred from frostbite on her legs and face.

Mr Thornewill said he had dreamed of reaching the South Pole since his father told him the story of Scott of the Antarctic's ill-fated expedition in 1911.

Television sales manager Miss Hartley, 34, originally from Chichester, West Sussex but now living in Clapham, south London, said the trek had been incredibly tough.

She said: "The whole thing was an immense struggle for myself but I got through it by the skin of my teeth. It has not really sunk in yet."

The three had all paid 27,600 each to go on the adventure of a lifetime and were part of a nine-member team put together by two adventure companies which specialise in getting ordinary members of the public to extraordinary destinations.

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See also:
04 Jan 00 |  UK
Tyre training puts women in Pole position
31 Dec 99 |  Sci/Tech
South Pole is moved
06 Sep 99 |  Sci/Tech
Explorer's relics unfrozen
04 Jan 00 |  UK
Double Pole record set

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