John Heap (geographer)

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John Arnfield Heap, CMG (5 February 1932 – 8 March 2006) was an English polar scientist who helped protect Antarctica from exploitation. His son, Thomas John Gillespie "Tom" Heap, is the BBC's Rural Affairs Correspondent and presenter of BBC One's Countryfile programme and a reporter for the same channel's Panorama programme and BBC Radio 4's Costing the Earth programme.[1][2]


John Heap was born in Manchester, England. He was educated at the Quaker-founded Leighton Park School in Reading and Edinburgh University where he studied geography. He began his career with pioneering research on Antarctic sea ice, for which he was awarded his doctorate at Clare College, Cambridge and the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI).

Dr Heap served with the Polar Regions Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and was head of the section between 1975 and 1992. He was than director of the SPRI in Cambridge from 1992 to 1997. After his retirement in 1997, he was chair of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and treasurer of the International Glaciological Society.

Personal life[edit]

Heap married Margaret (Peggy) Spicer in 1960 and had a son, the aforementioned Thomas John Gillespie "Tom" Heap of the BBC, and two daughters, Sarah and Alice.


  1. ^ "Obituaries: John Heap". The Daily Telegraph (London). 18 March 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Thomas John Gillespie Heap". 28 October 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 

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