A 79-year-old from New York has become the first African American woman on record to reach both the North Pole and the South Pole.

Retired nurse Barbara Hillary took up skiing in her 70s made it to the North Pole aged 75 and has just returned from a trip to the South Pole.

She said: “I am a lung and breast cancer survivor and when I decided to go to the North Pole I met a tremendous amount of negativity but there was a segment of people who did encourage me.”

She managed to raise over $22,000 for the trip to the North Pole in 2007. But was not satisfied with that achievement so decided to make a bid for the South Pole too. For that trip, she raised more than $40,000. “Every penny of that money I had to raise,” she says.

Ms Hillary is no ordinary pensioner, she said: “I prefer to set my own course as much as I can on the map of life.”

After 18 months of planning and a series of frustrating delays at the end of last month Ms Hillary found herself on the bottom of the earth, at the South Pole.

Ms Hillary takes these journeys to inspire people to live life to the full.

She said: “I see my quest to both the poles as a source of inspiration. I do hope it serves that purpose.”

Now back at home in Arverne, New York, Ms Hillary is inundated with people asking her what her next adventure will be. She is busy with public speaking engagements and says she hasn’t decided yet, but watch her website [url=https://www.barbarahillary.com]www.barbarahillary.com for announcements soon.