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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December, 2004, 19:55 GMT
School polar venturers back home
Robert Dunn with his parents Margaret and Robert
Robert Dunn, 18, embraces his parents Margaret and Robert
Students and teachers have returned to Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, after making history by completing the first school trip to the South Pole.

The West Notts College ski-trekked the last 70 miles at an altitude of 10,000 feet in temperatures down to -32C.

A four-man team arrived at Heathrow airport on Monday afternoon.

The Polar Challenge team included 18-year-old Robert Dunn, from Sutton in Ashfield, who became the youngest person to complete the trek.

He said: "It was just amazing - I'm speechless really.

"It was such hard work and to get there was so emotional but it was probably the best challenge I will ever get to do in my life.

We are an ordinary college, these are ordinary guys and we have got to the South Pole, so anything is possible.
Steve Bull, West Notts College

"If I had the opportunity to do it all over again I would jump at it."

He said he would never forget the moment when they finally reached the pole after 10 days of trekking.

"We all lined up together and we did a countdown from three to one and we all touched the pole at exactly the same time. It was just amazing."

The trek through the Antarctic wilderness to the pole took 10 days.

But three days before they arrived, they were astonished to find they had company.

Carl Alvey, 21, from Mansfield, said: "We started seeing flashing lights on the horizon.

Students training for polar trek
The team experienced altitude sickness and fatigue

"It took us two hours to get to them and then 12 Chileans piled out of a snow machine and served us with coffee and biscuits."

Mr Alvey said the group suffered from altitude sickness and fatigue in the extreme conditions. They finally reached the pole on Sunday at 1630 GMT.

Mr Alvey said: "It's probably a relief more than anything, It will be great to be back home for Christmas."

Steve Bull, 35, a tutor at the college, said the expedition should serve as an example to other colleges and schools.

"There are so many rules and regulations - people are scared to take children into the outdoors.

"We are an ordinary college, these are ordinary guys and we have got to the South Pole, so anything is possible."

BBC's Karl Cooper
"My feet are cold and I'm freezing"

College team reaches South Pole
14 Dec 04 |  Nottinghamshire
Students head off to South Pole
17 Nov 04 |  Nottinghamshire
Explorer will tackle remote lake
11 Nov 04 |  Nottinghamshire
Making of the Ice Queen
09 Feb 04 |  Nottinghamshire
Polar woman's school message
23 Jan 04 |  Nottinghamshire
'I'm on top of the world'
10 Jan 03 |  England


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