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Irish iceman picks up Antarctic award

AN Irishman has been awarded the prestigious Fuchs Medal for "outstanding" service to the British Antarctic survey.

Robert Smith, from Tyrone but now living in Scotland, joins the small group of people to have received the honour, named after Sir Vivian Ernest Fuchs, the English explorer who led the first British overland crossing of Antarctica in 1958.

Just one or two people a year are awarded the medal for "outstanding devotion to the British Antarctic Survey's interests, beyond the call of normal duty, by men or women who are or were members of the survey, or closely connected with its work."

Mr Smith, an experienced climber and mountaineer, has spent the past 10 years providing support and guidance to scientists working there.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, he said being awarded the medal was "a very nice gesture, not something you would expect".

Mr Smith is assigned to one or two scientists a year.

"My job is to get the scientists to where they need to be and to keep them safe on the glacier or up on the mountains".

Mr Smith (40) fell in love with the Antarctic when he first visited a decade ago.

"The landscape is very beautiful, very striking, and its untouched,'' he said.

The Irishman and his partner work for a US company, Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, and they spend about three months of the year on the frozen continent.

Irish Independent