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Tom Avery captivates Haileybury audience

Tom Avery, who three years ago became the youngest Briton at 27 to make the arduous journey to the South Pole, gave an inspiring talk on his life to a group of pupils and teachers last night.

Nearly 50 people turned up to hear Avery describe his journey which he undertook as part of a team of four in 2002. His sense of humour and easy-going manner ensured his slide and video show came to life and he was able to bring the raw beauty of Antarctica into the Attlee Room.

"Undertaking an adventure like this in the frozen continent is 30% physical and 70% mental," said Tom as he described how his team battled the elements, including driving winds and blizzards, during their record-breaking journey.

"We were about 47 miles from the South Pole when our back-up team told us over the radio that if we could do the last leg in one go, we would become the fastest people to do the journey, so we walked solidly for 31 hours," he explained. "We were so tired at the end of it that we could hardly take in our achievements."

The team emulated the journey of Tom’s hero, Captain Scott, who in 1912 became the second person to reach the South Pole. However, it was the use of art kites to power them across the ice that enabled them to walk into the record books.

Following his hour-long talk, Tom answered questions from the pupils and signed copies of his book, Pole Dance.