We are proud to be supporting Will Greenwood MBE on his #BorneArcticTrek. He is walking to the North Pole to help raise £750,000 for the Borne Charity which will help fund research to prevent premature birth.
The former England rugby player is about to embark on an extreme challenge. We spoke to him about why he’s taking on a trek of a lifetime and what kit he’s taking to protect him from the elements.
Will, why are you walking to the Arctic?
That’s something I’ve been asking myself every night! The answer that keeps coming back to me is I’m doing this for two special people. One is Freddie, my first son and the other is a guy called Professor Mark Johnson.
Freddie was born premature at 22 weeks and only lived for 45 minutes. My wife Caro had no reason to deliver preterm and as a couple, we needed to find answers as to why Freddie had been born too soon. After meeting Mark Johnson, an obstetrician and the founder of Borne charity, we discovered there is often very little explanation as to why preterm birth happens in perfectly healthy women.
Myself and Caro are now Patrons of the charity and I signed up for this crazy adventure because I couldn’t say no to Mark and I want to do it in Freddie’s memory.
What will the challenge involve?
Basically, a lot of walking and skiing on ice. The challenge begins on 14 April in Longyearbyen on the Archipelago of Svalbard, a remote Norwegian village situated above the Arctic Circle.
After a couple of days training in the wilderness with our amazing team leader Alan Chambers MBE, and my eight fellow teammates, we then head to Camp Barneo, a temporary Russian ice base located approximately 60 miles from the North Pole. From there, we’ll be dropped off at the starting point to trek towards the Geographic North Pole.
We’re hoping to reach the Pole in about five days (weather permitting), so we’ll be walking for around eight hours a day and then setting up camp takes about another three hours. It’s going to be tough but we’ve got a really incredible group of people on the team, including ex-Special forces soldier and TV presenter Jason Fox and former Exeter Chiefs rugby player Dean Mumm.
All of us have been affected by preterm birth so there’s going to be a great team spirit and hopefully a lot of laughs along the way!
If it can help one family not have to go through what my family went through, then it’s worth freezing my knackers off for.
I’m literally going to the ends of the world for this.
You previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Borne a few years ago, how do you think this will be different?
The main difference for me is going to be the freezing cold, I absolutely detest the cold weather! Temperatures in the Arctic can drop as low as -45 degrees, so I’m making sure I’m packing the right clothes to help block out the harsh conditions.
Will Greenwood (left) and Jason Fox (right)
Which Berghaus items have made it into your sled?
The list of essential clothing items is as long as your arm but we have to be really selective about what we take. I’ll be pulling all of my kit (including food) in a sled that weighs about 60kg along the frozen ice. The Extrem 8000 Pro waterproof and Ramche 2.0 down jackets are really useful garments as they’re super lightweight but will also keep me warm and dry. The 8000 Pro has the Xpanse™ Faceguard which will protect my mouth and nose and the materials and water resistant Hydrodown insulation used in the Ramche 2.0 jacket will perform really well in the freezing temperatures.
How will the money you and the team raise help to prevent preterm birth?
Borne is a really small medical research charity whose aim is to prevent premature birth and the devastating impact it has on so many families.
Not many people realise that premature birth is the leading cause of childhood death and disability, more significant than infection, trauma or cancer. 15 million babies across the globe are born too soon each year, with 60,000 in the UK. Many children, particularly those born before 32 weeks, will grow up experiencing long term disabilities.
The medical profession still don’t know enough about why it happens. We’re hoping to raise £750,000 which will fund Professor Johnson’s team of scientists to conduct new research into the maternal immune system, which we hope could lead to a new breakthrough.
If it can help one family not have to go through what my family went through, then it’s worth freezing my knackers off for. I’m literally going to the ends of the world for this.