History-making army officer Preet Chandi returns to UK after solo South Pole trek

ITV News Correspondent Amy Lewis meets the third fastest woman to trek across Antarctica

An army officer who became the first woman of colour to complete a solo expedition across Antarctica has been reunited with her family back in the UK after some two months apart.

Preet Chandi, who is from Derby, completed the gruelling trek at the start of January, having endured temperatures of -50C as she skied 700 miles across Antarctica in 40 days.

The 32-year-old finished just behind the time set by Johanna Davidsson of Sweden, who competed it in 38 days, 23 hours and five minutes in 2016.

Boris Johnson hailed her efforts as an “extraordinary” achievement.

Although finishing the trek on January 3, her anticipated return home was delayed after one of the crew had to isolate due to a Covid outbreak.

But Ms Chandi, also known as Polar Preet, was finally reunited with her family on Friday morning when she touched down at Heathrow airport.

She had last saw her fiancé David two months ago, when he proposed.

The Sikh army officer said she hoped her journey would motivate people to challenge cultural norms and inspire young people, women and those from ethnic backgrounds.

A picture taken on Day 35 of the army officer's expedition. In the post, she describes temperatures dropping. Credit: preetchandi/ Instagram

Ms Chandi, based at a medical regiment in the North West of England, is now the third fastest woman to trek across the continent, and the first person to reach the South Pole on foot in two years.

“It all still feels a little bit surreal, to be honest" she told ITV News from Heathrow.

"People keep asking me if it has sunk in yet. The fact that I have done the expedition has because I spent two years training for it. I think it might take me a little while to catch up with the reactions."

She went on to describe the "super cold" and windy conditions she had to face while hauling a 90kg sleigh carrying 45 days worth of fuel, kit and food around in the freezing conditions.

Ms Chandi is now looking forward to meeting her new nephew and binge-watching some of her favourite shows in the warmth with her partner.