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Woman who skied across Antarctica inspires students

PUBLISHED: 13:14 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:49 23 March 2018

Lance Sgt Sophie Montagne with her sledge which she used as a member of the first all female team, the Ice Maidens, to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone. With her is cadet Poppy Wakefield who has been inspired by Sophie's story. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Lance Sgt Sophie Montagne with her sledge which she used as a member of the first all female team, the Ice Maidens, to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone. With her is cadet Poppy Wakefield who has been inspired by Sophie's story. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

College students received an inspiring visit from a woman who skied across Antarctica.

Students at Wymondham College listen to Lance Sgt Sophie Montagne, a member of the first all female team, the Ice Maidens, to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYStudents at Wymondham College listen to Lance Sgt Sophie Montagne, a member of the first all female team, the Ice Maidens, to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Girls at Wymondham College were encouraged to find a challenge and make it happen by Sophie Montagne, a lance sergeant, at an event organised by the college in co-ordination with the Army.

Ms Montagne is a member of the six-strong British Army Ice Maiden team which recently became the first all-female team to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone.

The Ice Maidens, none of whom had any experience of expeditions, began the two-month, 1,704km journey on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf last November.

Students heard how the team travelled up to 46km a day, navigating crevasse fields 
while pulling sledges weighing more than their body weight 
and facing temperatures as low 
as -56C.

Students at Wymondham College take a look at the sledge  which Lance Sgt Sophie Montagne pulled across Antarctica as a member of the all female team, the Ice Maidens. From left, Alice Tall, 13; Georgina Abell-Plant, 13; Freya Myhill, 13; Emily Byrne, 14; and Chiedza Kunyeda, 15. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYStudents at Wymondham College take a look at the sledge which Lance Sgt Sophie Montagne pulled across Antarctica as a member of the all female team, the Ice Maidens. From left, Alice Tall, 13; Georgina Abell-Plant, 13; Freya Myhill, 13; Emily Byrne, 14; and Chiedza Kunyeda, 15. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ms Montagne. who quit her desk job to go, did not shy away from the less picturesque details of the expedition and her description of going weeks without washing or changing clothes drew audible gaps from the audience.

However what Ms Montagne emphasised most were the benefits of teamwork, saying: “It wasn’t about ego. We wanted to get the entire team across. That was the goal.

“Teamwork was the most positive factor of the expedition.”

Poppy Wakefield, of Wymondham College Combined Cadet Force (CCF), helped to organise and host the visit.

The Ice Maidens in Antarctica. PICTURE: AECOM EMIA Press.The Ice Maidens in Antarctica. PICTURE: AECOM EMIA Press.

She said: “The Ice Maidens have inspired me so much. They have really shown me and other girls how in the Army women are treated as equals, get to fulfil their potential and do the most amazing things.

“It’s 100 years since women got the vote and were allowed to be in the Army, but here we are today with women allowed in tanks and next year in the infantry too.

“For me the Ice Maidens embody all that progress and show what women can do. Me and my generation are so lucky to be able to walk in their footsteps.

“I am so proud of them and having them come to Wymondham is just magic.”

Ms Montagne said: “I hope our achievement will inspire the next generation to seek out new challenges and have the determination to make them a reality. I hope to show that a group of ordinary women can achieve something extraordinary when they work as a team.”

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