From Everest to Hethersett - Polar explorer and adventurer Mark spreads the word of his exciting travels to youngsters

Mark Wood, explorer, with his sled during his visit to Hethersett Junior School. Picture: DENISE BRA

Mark Wood, explorer, with his sled during his visit to Hethersett Junior School. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

He has crossed Everest's sheer crevasses, cycled across America and endured freezing winds while trekking to the North and South Poles.

Mark Wood on his solo journey to the south pole in 2011.

Mark Wood on his solo journey to the south pole in 2011. - Credit: Archant

And on Friday, polar explorer and adventurer Mark Wood regaled youngsters at Hethersett Junior School and Town Close School with tales of his travels.

Mark Wood, explorer, visits Hethersett Junior School. Mark Wood with Gemma Walford, 8, wearing Innui

Mark Wood, explorer, visits Hethersett Junior School. Mark Wood with Gemma Walford, 8, wearing Innuit goggles made from driftwood, and Harry Cheal, 7, wearing Mark's goggles. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Excited Hethersett pupils, wearing red to support a British Heart Foundation fundraiser organised by classmate Lauren Anderton, tried on heavy-duty boots, goggles and coats, touched a polar bear's tooth and learnt about life in Alaska.

Mark Wood, explorer, visits Hethersett Junior School. Mark Wood with George Simmonds, 7, wearing Mar

Mark Wood, explorer, visits Hethersett Junior School. Mark Wood with George Simmonds, 7, wearing Mark's coat and goggles from his travels. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The 48-year-old, from Warwickshire, has led teams on expeditions in areas including the Arctic circle, the Himalayas, Antarctica, Alaska and the Norwegian and Canadian high Arctic.

But educating youngsters through his journeys is as important as the destination – and he regularly video calls schoolchildren using Skype while in some of the world's most extreme locations.


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He said: 'I don't like going on expeditions unless we have got some educational link. On Everest we linked with more than 100,000 children around the globe, it was great.'

During his talks, which he says are intended to help children 'understand their passions', Mr Wood said that he tries to put students in his shoes by giving them a 'life-changing decision' he was forced to make.

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'We were near to the summit of Everest and I had to decide whether to save the life of my friend or whether to carry on. Obviously I chose my friend, and I put that to the children to see what they would do,' he said.

Having started his career in the military, the explorer said it is just his natural instinct to want to 'find out what's round the next corner'.

'It has been difficult, in different ways. On the solo trip [to the North and South Poles] I didn't have an iPod or any photographs, it was just me and my own thoughts. That was pretty tough,' he said.

'But Everest was difficult because it was so completely tiring. I have done a lot of hard things in my life but that completely drained me.'

Matthew Parslow-Williams, head teacher at Hethersett Junior School, said: 'One of the most important jobs as head teacher is to inspire children, to give them some aspirations to succeed and follow their dreams – our school ethos is designed to do this. Having Mark here today, an inspirational explorer, is testament to that.'

And after leaving Norfolk, Mr Wood plans to visit Norway, the Himalayas, Oman and trek across Iceland alone.

And the globetrotter even has another trip to the North Pole in the pipeline – next year he and two explorers will attempt to trek from the Canadian coastline to the northernmost place on Earth in 60 days without a resupply.

For more information on Mr Wood's expeditions, visit www.markwoodexplorer.com

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