PASSED/FAILED: David Hempleman-Adams

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The Independent Online
David Hempleman-Adams, 40, is a chemical company director who sets off on Monday on a 500-mile walk to the North Pole with Norwegian Rune Gjeldnes but without snowmobiles or similar support. If successful, he will be the first person to do the Grand Slam, reaching both Poles unsupported as well as climbing the highest summit on each continent.

Schools? I went to Morden Primary and Morden Junior in Swindon and then to Writhlington Comprehensive near Bath, a mixed, very enjoyable country school.

A family of explorers? No, the only ice I saw as a child was in my dad's gin and tonic. It was the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze Award which got me started when I was 13. It involved first aid, community work and a 50- mile expedition. I did the Silver Award a year later and at 18 the Gold, which included a 75-mile hike.

Glittering prizes? I'm a member of the Institute of Directors and the Institute of Marketing and I received a Gold Star for perseverance from the Star newspaper. But my best qualification is the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

O-levels? About eight, in two sittings; I suppose I was a late starter. Geography and biology were my favourites.

A-levels? Geography, biology and chemistry. I left school and finished them at Bath Tech.

University? Business Studies at Manchester.

Finals Results? I'm not telling. I'm not proud of my degree. I was never there; I was climbing around the world. Each term, I'd go to Manchester two weeks late and leave two weeks early.

Second degree? After graduating and before going on a "recce" to Everest, I went to see a post-graduate tutor at Bristol University. I got on the course not because of my academic qualifications but because the tutor liked the idea of a student being in the Himalayas. I came back with amoebic dysentery.

A year of living dangerously? For the course, the forerunner of the university's MBA, I did a marketing study of outdoor products. I found it very tough - in libraries at 3am and so on. It was a nightmare getting it all in.

A word from our sponsor? I was sponsored by a company which at the end of the year heard my presentation and then said: `Get your fees in - quick.' Two days later, it went bankrupt but I still got the cash.

Arctic ambition? I'd put our chances at 50-50. If I'm successful, we're flying our eldest daughter, who is seven, to the North Pole to meet me.

Following in Father's footsteps? No, I don't like to push her towards exploring. But I have set up the Mitchemp Trust to help disadvantaged children go on a free adventure holiday. I remember, in my school days, there were people who couldn't afford the pounds 20 to go away for a weekend on the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.