Polar trek for Norfolk duo
A Swanton Morley-based soldier who lost his leg in action will join a Norfolk ex-serviceman on the challenge of a lifetime – and the duo are also hoping to break records on their polar trek.
Trekking to the North Pole is one of the most dangerous, demanding and difficult journeys for anyone to undertake.
But when you have an artificial leg it has to be one of the most incredible feats of human endurance.
That is exactly what wounded Light Dragoon Captain Guy Disney is attempting when he takes part in a record-breaking attempt to trek unaided to the geographical North Pole.
The 28-year-old, based with the regiment at Swanton Morley, is one of two amputees and two other wounded soldiers who aim to be the first to navigate the 300 miles of frozen Arctic Ocean, avoiding polar bears and enduring temperatures as low as -50C (-58F) to reach the remote destination.
He will be joined by the expedition's co-founder and fellow Norfolk man Edward Parker, himself ex-army who now runs a wine business in Melton Constable, and who has spent months selecting the team and preparing them for the arduous task ahead.
Yesterday the pair, along with their team-mates, who include fellow co-founder Simon Dalglish and a support team of a polar guide and a logistics and training expert, met at Trafalgar Square to officially unveil their record attempt and show some of the state-of-the-art equipment they will be using which has been specially adapted to deal with each of their injuries.
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Their cause and expedition has been named Walking with the Wounded and aims to raise funds to help rehabilitate wounded service people back into the workplace. It is supported by Artemis Investment Management and money raised will also be donated to other service charities including Help For Heroes, Blesma, The Warrior Programme and Skill Force.
They will leave the UK at the end of March and will be airlifted onto the ice caps at around 85� to 86�N which is approximately 300 nautical miles (345 miles) from the top of the world, with the exact point being determined by ice conditions. They will travel around 12 nautical miles a day and aim to reach their destination in 25 days.
Capt Disney was selected for the expedition from more than 100 applicants and is the only one of the four injured men to attempt the challenge with an artificial leg.
He 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.
He described the opportunity as 'phenomenal' and said it was his chance to show what was achievable.
'The training is going really well and Christmas was particularly good because of the snow so I could get out on the Nordic skis,' he said. 'We have another training stint coming up in Norway at the end of the month which will be good because the temperatures will be very cold and we will really get an idea what it will be like on the expedition.
'I am just really lucky to be involved. I think anyone given this chance would jump at it. It would be hard to say no if I had both legs, now I have one it is a must.'
Mr Parker said it was a difficult challenge but it would send out an important message.
'The main thing is trying to show that despite their injuries these guys are still capable of living normal lives,' he said. 'Yes, we hope to raise a lot of money but it is just as important that they have become a focus for the whole of the wounded community.'
He said he was very happy with the progress they have made during training and had discovered a lot about how the injuries were performing. 'One of the key things is managing the injuries in the extreme cold and the physical aspects,' he said. 'We had to find new ways of doing things – a guy with one arm can't put up a tent. But it is all going really well, we are a very tight-knit team who get on really well with one another. The fact it is unsupported makes it more tasty. It has never been done before.'
The trek has the support of Prince Harry, who is the charity's patron. He said: 'This polar adventure will exemplify the tenacity and courage of those who serve in uniform. Walking with the Wounded promises to be remarkable. I salute the team and urge the public to get behind them.'
For more information about the trek or to donate to the charity visit www.walkingwiththewounded.org.uk