A SOUTH Lakeland mountaineer who has spent the last 20 years working at the Arctic and Antarctic has been honoured with a Polar Medal.

Simon Garrod, 50, was presented with the prestigious award – for outstanding achievement and service in the field of polar research – by the Queen at an investiture ceremony, at Windsor Castle.

With his girlfriend and parents in the audience, Mr Garrod said he, and his family, were very proud.

“It is perhaps payback to my parents for all the grief I gave them when I was younger,” he said.

Originally from Durham, Mr Garrod has lived in Cumbria for the last 10 years, based just outside Sedgwick when he is not on expeditions.

“Mountaineering has always been the main industry I wanted to be in, so I built up the experience needed,” he said. “A large chunk of my work has been for the British Antarctic Survey, who I work for now, but I have also worked at the Arctic.

“I started out as a field guide, then worked as a winter base commander, and am currently field operations manager.”

Mr Garrod’s expertise provides a supporting role for scientists on exhibitions as they carry out their research work. He has just returned from a spell of working in Antarctica.

“I have spent the last three years working on a project which will see a major investigation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is potentially one of the biggest threats to rising sea levels.

“My work is finding a way for scientists to carry out their work, and how to run the science project safely in the area.

“I love the challenge of working in another environment, the people that you get to work with and, ultimately, you are helping scientists to answer some of the big questions about the planet.”

When he is not working in the frozen expanses of the polar regions, Mr Garrod said he spent most of his down time taking part in outdoor sports in the Lakes and Scotland.