Ice ball provides a warm Norfolk send-off to intrepid Arctic team

There was a chilly theme but an atmosphere of warm generosity as hundreds of people gave a stunning send-off to a true Norfolk hero.

Spectacular ice sculptures and snow-white decorations were an appropriate backdrop for an ice ball at Bayfield Hall, near Holt, to wave goodbye to an intrepid team of wounded servicemen who are set to trek to the North Pole.

The four-strong team features Light Dragoon Captain Guy Disney, based at Swanton Morley barracks, who is the only member of the group to attempt the extraordinary quest with an artificial leg.

He was joined at the ice ball by the expedition's co-founder and fellow Norfolk man Edward Parker, who runs a wine business in Melton Constable.

The event, organised by a team of mums who have children at Gresham's School at Holt, featured 320 guests and was held on Saturday evening.

It included an auction of promises and raised �60,000 for Walking with the Wounded - a charity that re-trains wounded service personnel when they leave the armed forces.

Capt Disney, who lost the lower part of his right leg in July 2009 during the Panther's Claw operation in Afghanistan when his Spartan armoured vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, was touched by the send-off.

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He said: 'This is brilliant. Particularly when times are tough financially, it's great to see so many people supporting this cause.'

Mr Parker, whose son Harry is a double-leg amputee, said: 'I think this is amazing. We have done nothing towards it. It's hugely generous and shows that people care about what we do and what we are raising money for.'

Sinead Merron got together with five other mums to organise the event from scratch.

Mrs Merron said: 'It was just phenomenal. We think we've raised �60,000. The auction alone raised �50,000. There was a bidding frenzy for the four tickets to the Harry Potter premiere. They went for �7,000. And the holiday in Thailand went for �16,000.'

She added: 'The generosity of the people of Norfolk was amazing. It was very much a local event, and it gives you an idea of how people wanted to get behind the team.'

Mrs Merron's daughter Rosie is friends with Mr Parker's daughter Kitty. She said: 'I said to Ed in September that we should give the lads a Norfolk send-off. It has taken a lot of work, but every little bit is totally worth it.'

After the event, the trek team flew to Norway for snow and mountain training.

They will leave the UK at the end of March and will be airlifted onto the ice caps about 345 miles from the North Pole. They hope to complete 12 nautical miles a day and complete their task in 25 days.

? To follow the team's progress or donate to the charity, visit www.walkingwiththewounded.org.uk.