IT was the culmination of a ten-year dream.

A group of Hampshire mountaineers have become the first ever Scout group to conquer Mount Everest.

The five intrepid climbers put the cap on a decade of planning and fundraising for the once-in-a-lifetime expedition.

Their historic climb of the world's highest peak was a perfect way of marking Scouting's centenary year.

Leader of the Sky High Climb team Nathan Figg, a 32 year-old satellite technician from Alton, said: "This has been the ultimate challenge in Scouting's 100th year. We've spent an amazing ten years to prepare for this immense challenge.

"It has been a lot of hard work and a great challenge and we are thrilled to have made it."

Team member Dave King, a 23-year-old marine engineer from Southampton, told how he had shed a tear of emotion as they reached the summit.

He said: "We have conquered one of the world's toughest challenges in Scouting's Centenary year and what a great way to mark the occasion.

"It's taken a lot of time and hard work to get out here but it has all been worth it."

Actor and Chief Scout Peter Duncan who has been in Nepal filming a documentary about the Everest team said: "This challenge showcases everything that is great about Scouting.

"Not only are these guys attempting to climb Everest, they have given their time and energy to their younger companions by mentoring and showing them how to cope with the altitude as well as passing the skills of mountaineering."

The expedition was led by Russell Parke, 57, a retired police officer from Cadnam, in the New Forest.

He had overseen the raising of about £250,000 to fund the project.

He said: "Hampshire Scouting Expeditions is 21 this year, the same year as the Centenary of Scouting.

"We wanted to mark both these milestones with the ultimate challenge for a mountaineer, while showing what can be achieved by Scouts."

Other members of the Sky High Climb team were: James Fry, 23, a financial actuary from Basingstoke, Tim Clark, 26, a residential care leader, also from Basingstoke, and Andy Smith, a 25 year-old sales executive, formerly of Liphook.