Mountaineer is off to meet the Queen

A MOUNTAINEER from Belper is attending a reception at Buckingham Palace to commemorate 100 years since Robert Scott’s ill-fated journey to the South Pole.

Renowned explorer Nigel Vardy has been invited to tomorrow’s event in London by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who are hosting it.

Nigel, who lost all his toes and his fingertips to frostbite in 1999, is expected to be among many distinguished explorers at the two-hour evening reception.

He was thrilled to have been invited and said: “I am very proud that they have recognised me and asked me to go.

“It is recognition of myself as an adventurer, traveller and explorer.

“I had no idea this was coming. I am thoroughly looking forward to it.”

Nigel, 42, said he returned to his home on Far Laund one day to find a letter from Buckingham Palace, inviting him to attend the event.

“It’s not every day you get a letter from Buckingham Palace,” he said.

Nigel said he didn’t know why he had been invited, but put it down to his involvement with presenting Duke of Edinburgh awards in the past.

He added: “It should be an excellent two hours.”

One of the things Nigel admitted he was most looking forward to was viewing an exhibition of photographs taken in the Antarctic, including some featuring Scott.

He said: “I will be going down a bit earlier to have a good look at it. I will thoroughly enjoy that particular bit.”

Nigel said he had no idea who else would be at the event, adding he would enjoy a chat with fellow explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Mike Stroud, the physician who has accompanied Fiennes on many expeditions, if they were there.

“I have met them a few times,” said Nigel. “They are good to talk to.

“The only three people who I know will be there are myself, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh!”

But Nigel said he would most like to meet up with Karen Darke, a climber who was paralysed following a climbing fall in 1993.

Despite this, she has managed to complete the London Marathon and, in 2006, she trekked across the Greenland ice cap on skis, using only her hands and arms to pull herself along.