Borne Patron, Will Greenwood MBE is no stranger to extreme challenges. Having previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for the charity in 2014, he’s now taking on the North Pole, despite his hatred of the cold!
We spoke to him as he prepared his kit for the trek of a lifetime.
Will, why are you walking to the North Pole?
That’s something I’ve been asking myself every night! The answer that keeps coming back to me is I’m doing this for two special people. The first is Freddie, my first son who was born premature at 22 weeks and only lived for 45 minutes. My wife Caro had no reason to deliver preterm, and as a couple we needed to find answers as to why Freddie had been born too soon. Which leads me to the second person, obstetrician and founder of Borne, Professor Mark Johnson. After meeting Mark, we discovered there is often very little explanation as to why preterm birth happens in perfectly healthy women. Myself and Caro are now Patrons of the charity and I signed up for this crazy adventure because I couldn’t say no to Mark and I want to do it in Freddie’s memory.
You previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Borne a few years ago, how do you think this will be different?
The main difference for me is going to be the freezing cold, I absolutely detest the cold weather! Temperatures on the Arctic can drop as low as -45 degrees centigrade, so I’m making sure I’m packing the right clothes to help block out the harsh conditions.
What will the Arctic Challenge involve?
Basically it’s going to involve a lot of walking and skiing on ice! The challenge begins on 14 April in Longyearbyen on the Archipelago of Svalbard, a remote Norwegian village situated above the Arctic Circle. After a couple of days training in the wilderness with our amazing team leader Alan Chambers MBE, and my eight fellow team mates, we then head to Camp Barneo, a temporary Russian ice base located approximately 60 miles from the North Pole. From there, we’ll be dropped off at the starting point to trek towards the Geographic North Pole.
We’re hoping to reach the Pole in about five days (weather permitting), so we’ll be walking for around eight hours a day and then setting up camp takes about another three hours. It’s going to be tough but we’ve got a really incredible group of people on the team, including ex-Special forces soldier and TV presenter Jason Fox and former Exeter Chiefs rugby player Dean Mumm. All of us have been affected by preterm birth so there’s going to be a great team spirit and hopefully a lot of laughs along the way!
What’s going in your Arctic kit bag?
Alan Chambers gave us a list of essential clothing items as long as your arm but we have to be really selective about what we can and can’t take. I’ll be pulling all of my kit (including food) in a sled that weighs about 60kg along the frozen ice, so there’s no room for extra pairs of socks.
We’ve been fortunate to have garments donated from suppliers who specialise in clothing for extreme weather. I’m going to be wearing a Berghaus Extrem 800 Pro and Ramche 2.0 jackets, really useful outer protection as they’re super lightweight but will also keep me warm and dry. Underneath I’ll have some Armadillo Merino® layers which is a natural wool insulator. It keeps you warm without overheating the body but also helps to move moisture away from the skin, which is important in polar conditions. Eyewear is another essential item and Julbo sunglasses will help to block out the wind and cold and protect my eyes from the sun’s rays and glare from the ice.
What are you looking forward to the most about the trek?
We all live in a crazy world with a lot of stress and I think what I’m looking forward to is being in a part of the world where there’s just nothing except for me and my team mates. I think there’ll be some lovely karma up there and it will be an amazing screenshot photo for the rest of my life!
How will the money you and the team raise help to prevent preterm birth?
The aim of the challenge is to raise £750,000 towards funding Borne’s new research into the maternal immune system, which we hope could lead to the first breakthrough in 50 years. If it can help one family not go through the anguish of losing a baby, then it’s worth freezing my socks off for. I’m literally going to the ends of the earth for Borne.
Donate to Will Greenwood’s Borne Arctic Challenge here.
Follow the team’s journey from Saturday 14 April here.
Armadillo are offering Borne supporters 20% discount on their Merino wool clothing products and will donate 20% of the net sale to Borne. Click here to find out more.