Reaching new heights

Having become the first Manxman to conquer Everest, in 2008, acting Chief Inspector Phil Drowley has recently completed the 'Seven Summits' challenge, scaling the highest peak of each continent. The intrepid Douglas policeman, who is also a father and grandfather, completed the challenge in November after successfully climbing Australasia's Carstenz Pyramid.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a ‘red arrows’ pilot; I went to RAF Biggin Hill aircrew selection centre when I was 16 years old; I passed all the aptitude tests but failed my interview. I recall being asked what paper I read and I told them the answer I thought they wanted to hear, “The Daily Telegraph”, problem is they then asked me to tell them who the editor was and when I couldn’t answer that they asked me to tell them any headline from a Telegraph that week; of course I could not tell them as I didn’t even read a paper at 16. I got invited back a year or two later but by then I had discovered the opposite sex and I had a job and a scooter and thought I had made it in life. What could have been!

phil drowley

What was your first job?

I was an office equipment salesman; only lasted a week, I sold a ‘tippex’ set and a teak desk. I was a ‘mod’ at the time and I remember walking around the various offices of Athol Street in my fish tail parka.

Who taught you, or how did you learn, to handle money?

My Mum was a book keeper, so I remember from an early age having to keep a book and divide up my pocket money in order to save for various things I wished for; I still use a book today only now it’s my wages I try and stretch to meet all the things I desire.

If you weren’t doing your current job, what else might you be doing?

I think I would be somewhere in the developing world, building a school or some other worthwhile project.

What motivates you?

I think there are a whole host of things that are ‘deep down’ but on reflection the main thing comes from my childhood where I remember distinctly being told I would not amount to anything. It does not hurt so much now, but what a motivation it has been.

Where in your job or career do you find most satisfaction?

People! I love helping others achieve, seeing others achieve and knowing I have played a part in their development means a lot to me.

What do you do to relax?

What is relaxation?! My main relaxation comes about when I go off on an expedition to climb a mountain in a remote location somewhere in the world. I am on leave, someone else is watching over my area of responsibility, the phone is switched off, I am close to nature, free to think. Bliss!

(If you studied in the UK) what made you return to the Isle of Man?

I have secondary education qualifications from the Isle of Man.

Who do you / have you looked up to for inspiration?

The Dalai Lama, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and generally anyone who challenges adversity.

What is your favourite quote or motto?

“Follow your dreams”, and also;

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them”. Dalai Lama

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In collaboration with Departments of the Isle of Man Government