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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 08:20 GMT
Pole walker home at last
Andrew Cooney and mother Marilyn
Andrew Cooney: Looking forward to resting at home
A 23-year-old scout leader is relaxing at home after becoming the youngest person to have walked to the South Pole.

Andrew Cooney endured altitude sickness, the pain of an injured shoulder, snow storms and freezing temperatures to complete the gruelling 730-mile trek on 2 January.

An exhausted Mr Cooney flew in to Heathrow Airport on Thursday night to end his five-week expedition.

He said: "I am just looking forward to a couple of weeks of relaxation and recovery.

"If you think of walking 730 miles dragging your own bodyweight and equipment and to crown it all it was 30 degrees below zero, it was very tough, incredibly tough.

"I'm ready for a break."

Reflecting on reaching the pole, Mr Cooney said: "Words cannot describe it - it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, just fantastic - it was an incredible feeling."

Mr Cooney, from Thurgarton, near Nottingham, was hugged by his tearful mother and father, Marilyn and Terry, both 53, as he walked into the airport's arrival lounge.

Mission accomplished
Andrew Cooney
Words cannot describe it - it was a once in a lifetime moment

Andrew Cooney

Mrs Cooney said: "It's brilliant that he is home safe and sound.

"We are just so thrilled with what he has achieved.

"We are amazed at his stubbornness and his perseverance to get through all the ups and downs."

The polar hero, a lieutenant in the Territorial Army, was also met at the airport by several members of his Lincolnshire-based regiment.

His commanding officer, Lt Col Alex Barnes, from the 168 Pioneer Regiment based at Grantham, said everyone was very proud of what Mr Cooney had achieved.

He said: "I think he's set a brilliant example.

"It is the sort of thing where people sit at home and say 'I could have done that', but not many of us could."

All the money raised from his trip will be donated to the Oesophageal Patient Support Group and Research Charity based in Birmingham.

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  ON THIS STORY
  Andrew Cooney
"It is just a fantastic experience to be here"

Click here to go to Nottingham

Click here to go to Lincolnshire
See also:

03 Jan 03 | England
02 Jan 03 | England
30 Dec 02 | England
28 Dec 02 | England
21 Oct 02 | England
07 Dec 01 | Science/Nature
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