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Outdoor miner

Andrew Thomas is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. Jon Young reports.

When 40-year-old Andrew Thomas isn't bungee jumping, mountain climbing, walking, surfing or looking after his 10month-old son, he's busy heading up Sirius Engineering Group's new drilling services division.

After injuring his knee in a rugby accident in 1997 the South Wales-born geologist bought himself a surfboard and he still likes to ride the waves.

But surfing wasn't Thomas's first love.

'Being from South Wales my father worked in mining and used to bring home fossils which got me interested in geology.' Thomas now lives in Shefeld, having remained there since graduating from Shefeld University 20 years ago.

'I dreamt of leaving and finding fame and fortune in Australia but got a job in the UK and then a house.

'And then, of course, you go and marry a Yorkshire lass and your feet are nailed to the floor for good, ' he says.

When Thomas joined Van Elle he started on the technical side but very quickly found himself thrown into a managerial role.

'At Van Elle it was sink or swim: 'this is your job, now get on with it'.' 'I instantly went from the technical side to surviving on the managerial side.

'I owe a lot to my managing director Trevor Collin who helped me a great deal.' At Sirius, Thomas plans to get back into the technical side.

He says most of his work will be in-house but his ambition is to expand it into the open market.

Working in the Leeds office, Thomas says that the opportunities are endless.

'The work is diverse; I could be discussing boreholes on a Monday and then remediation on a Tuesday.' With a good 25 years of his working life still to come, Thomas plans to see it out with Sirius and wants to develop its drilling business.

Q&A - Andrew Thomas

Career Highlight: Helping turn around Van Elle's northern branch from a £2M a year turnover in 2000 to a £7M a year turnover this year.

Favourite food: I like all food but I can't stand horseradish or any kind of radish.

What I would rescue if my house was on fire: My surfboard.

Favourite book: Anything by Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett - anything that makes me laugh out loud.

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