South Yorkshire miners are a hardy breed and the gene has undoubtedly been inherited by actor Brian Blessed.
Born in Mexborough the son of a collier, he has three times been up Everest, in 1993 reaching 28,000 feet, the highest a man of his age has ever reached without oxygen.
And now outer space, another passion from childhood, is within his grasp. The man whose favourite acting role was in the film Flash Gordon could be heading to the International Space Station next year, he revealed to the YIBC audience.
“I did my training on volcanoes in Reunion Island and I am ready to go, I’m first reserve,” he said.
Blessed will then be almost 79, but that does not daunt him. He inspired delegates by saying: “I am sick to death of ageism in this country. I am 77 and I will not be restricted by that.”
Blessed grew up in Goldthorpe and had to leave school at 14. He worked as an undertaker’s assistant but pursued his dream of becoming an actor and won a drama scholarship.
His career spans Shakespeare to West End musicals and he is credited as having one of the most distinctive voices ever to grace stage and screen.
That voice was at its most powerful at the YIBC when he blasted the Government’s decision to fall behind in the space race.
“We were ahead in the rocket programme. We were the first to put satellites into space. Then we cancelled it. At last, we are going again but it’s not fast enough,” he boomed.
“So many gifted UK scientists are without work. Sheffield’s two universities are producing world class science students – there should be a bigger future for them.”