9 things you (probably) didn't know about Tom Heap

Tom is the investigations reporter for Countryfile, with a background in news and a great nose for a story...

4th July 2018
Tom Heap

1. Tom grew up in Rutland, with his parents and two sisters. His father was a polar scientist who served with the Polar Regions section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and devoted his life to protecting Antarctica from exploitation.

Normanton Church, at Rutland Water
Normanton Church at Rutland Water. Loop Images, Getty.

2. Tom learnt to abseil at school as part of his CCF cadet training and also got his bronze Duke of Edinburgh award.

3. He began his career as a sound mixer for Sky News, before joining a trainee scheme with BBC News, where he worked on the Today programme, the BBC News 24 channel and Panorama.

4. Over time he developed a special interest in rural affairs, science and the environment and eventually gained a newly created role as the Rural Affairs Correspondent for BBC News. 

5. In 2003 Tom presented live from the Khumbu Icefall on Mount Everest to mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary's successful summit of the mountain.

6. He joined the Countryfile team in 2012 and now presents the investigations segment of the show. In 2014 he interviewed Princess Anne for Countryfile about badger culling. He also reports for environmental show Costing the Earth on BBC Radio 4 and Panorama.

7. In an episode of Countryfile that marked the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, it was revealed that Tom is the great nephew of Olympic medallist rower and soldier, Thomas Gillespie, who was killed in action in France, 1914, aged 21.

8. Thomas Gillespie's brother Alexander, who was also killed in the First World War, wrote to his family about a vision for a 'sacred path' running the length of the front. Tom is now a founding trustee of the Western Front Way, which seeks to realise this dream.

The Western Front Way would be a 470 mile route from Switzerland to Belgium that marks the site of the font during the First World War. The project aims to 'educate, commemorate and be healthy'. Its motto is 'walk with us, remember us'.

9. Tom lives in rural Warwickshire with his wife, who he married in 1992.

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