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Henham woman to travel to the Arctic for climate change investigation

PUBLISHED: 16:26 26 March 2011 | UPDATED: 10:54 29 March 2011

Lucy Shepherd from Henham, who is going to the Arctic for two months.
Photo: Andy Darnell

Lucy Shepherd from Henham, who is going to the Arctic for two months. Photo: Andy Darnell

Archant © 2011

It is a gruelling landscape with mountains of snow, blistering winds and freezing temperatures.

But for two months one Suffolk woman will call it ‘home’ as she embarks on an Arctic expedition to carry out vital climate change research.

Lucy Shepherd, from Henham, near Beccles, will join a group of 10 other young people as they document the devastating effect global warming has on the island of Svalbard, north of Norway.

The Extreme Arctic Challenge will see the group, aged between 18 and 23, experience frozen rivers and blankets of snow, before seeing temperatures rise allowing research to take place into glaciers and wildlife numbers.

It is an experience which is organised by the British Schools Exploring Society.

Miss Shepherd said: “We will be totally self reliant, carrying all supplies on sledges behind us as we cross country ski.

“We will camp on the ice the whole time and be carrying out a number of different research projects for global warming and how the cold affects the human body.”

The 18-year-old was selected by patrons from The Royal Geographical Society who asked her to make a documentary of the adventure. They had been impressed by her film-making talents, which in the past have seen her appear at The Co-operative Film Festival at the National Media Museum in Bradford.

There are just three weeks to go until Miss Shepherd leaves and she admitted to being very excited.

“The main reason I am doing it is for the adventure – to me it is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.

“But the expedition is going to be a challenge both physically and mentally. I hope I will gain a lot of mountaineering skills when I am there, so if I ever want to climb bigger mountains in the future then I will know what to do.”

The former Woodbridge School student has already completed weeks of physical training for the expedition, including an exercise in the Peak District. During this she was taught how to set up trip wires and fire a rifle in the event of meeting a polar bear.

Expedition leaders have also warned that she is likely to suffer from frostbite and chilblains, despite wearing thermal clothing.

“I am told that in the Arctic you go to bed cold and you wake up cold,” she said.

•Sponsors The Mason Trust, Latitude Festival, and the Old Woodbridgian Society have already donated more than £6,000 to help fund her trip. If you would like to sponsor her trip then email lucysheps@googlemail.com

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