South Pole Scot is “world’s most southern plumber”

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A SCOT working at research base in Antarctica is thought to be the world’s most southerly plumber.

Jimmy Hendry gave up his plumbing job in Auchterarder, Perthshire to move 13,000 miles away and live on the Halley VI Research Centre near the South Pole.

The 36-year-old endures temperatures as low as -50C during his 15 month stay on the Brunt Ice Shelf to carry out vital maintenance work at the science camp.

Jimmy has been a plumber since he was 17-years-old
Jimmy has been a plumber since he was 17-years-old

 

The Scot said he is living his dream and his new post “proves that even a wee boy from Dundee can get anywhere they want – even the bottom of the world”.

Jimmy, who has worked as a plumber since he was 17-years-old, was told about the Antarctic vacancy by a friend.

He applied in June last year and six months later – on December 24 – eventually clapped eyes on his wintery home.

He said: “I suppose I probably am the most southern plumber – if not then probably the most southern Scot.

“It’s weird to think that people are dependent on you as I’m the only person here – along with a generator mechanic – to do the job.

“It really is a great place to be posted but people don’t realise how isolated you are. The nearest civilisation is Stanley on the Falkland Islands but that’s 2,000 miles away.

“I’m staying here for 15 months with no trips home or off the Antarctic continent as this is such an extreme place to get in and out of.

“The majority of the team left in March and there’s now just about a dozen of us left here for the Antarctic winter until they return in October – but I’ll be here until February 2014.”

 

The Halley VI Research Centre were Jimmy calls home until February 2014
The Halley VI Research Centre where Jimmy calls home until February 2014

 

Jimmy’s duties as a mechanical services technician start at 9am every morning where he checks the £25.8million Halley VI centre to make sure it hasn’t suffered any faults during the night.

He lives alongside 12 other professionals – the science team, a chef, a doctor and an electrician – who are from Germany, Austria, New Zealand and England.

Together they make up the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) team who are dedicated to studying the Earth’s atmosphere.

Jimmy added: “Other than growing a beard I didn’t really prepare as such. I had to go to Cambridge and meet BAS who carried out a 2.5 hour interview and a 1.5 hour medical.

“But it was more of a mental evaluation to see if you could actually stand being isolated for nearly a year and a half.

“They even checked all five references I gave them so they were pretty thorough but after a week of waiting they called me up and offered me the job.”

 

The Antarctic base is 13,000 miles away from his home in Auchterarder, Perth & Kinross
The Antarctic base is 13,000 miles away from his home in Auchterarder, Perth & Kinross

 

Jimmy – who has no wife or children – said it was an “easy decision” to leave for Antarctica but admitted he misses a few home comforts.

With a laugh he said: “I really miss my morning cappuccino at Costa Coffee. But I don’t miss my mobile phone at all – at home it’d be ringing every five minutes so it’s good to be disconnected for a while.

“I haven’t started feeling any cabin fever symptoms – but we’re also not allowed to wander outside without authorisation as there’s crevasses that we could fall down and go missing in.”

The first ever Halley centre was no more than wooden hut built in 1956 but it was abandoned 12 years later.

The new, more plush winter base now includes modern conveniences such as a gym and cinema and it even has internet access.

Jimmy added: “I don’t want to say how much I’m earning being over here but I can tell you it’s worth the effort.

“All my food an accommodation and things are paid for but I have to pay for my own alcohol – but that’s not an issue as I don’t really drink anyway.

“Just being in Antarctica for a winter is major excitement. More people have climbed Everest that have spent a winter at Halley.

“I’m doing things most people only dream of. I often say I’m living the dream – I even have it tattooed on my arm.

“This just proves that with imagination and determination a wee boy or girl from Dundee can get anywhere they want – even if it is the bottom of the world.”

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) were asked if Jimmy’s job made him the world’s most southerly plumber.

A BAS spokesman replied: “Quite possibly – I don’t think there would be anyone else much further south than Jimmy.”

 

Jimmy caught a glimpse of the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis)
Jimmy caught a glimpse of the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis)

 

 

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