Braving -35°c temperatures during an expedition to Arctic Sweden

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I served with The Queen's Royal Hussars and deployed on operational tours to Kosovo and Iraq. Before deploying to Kosovo I was bitten by something, quite possibly a snake, this has caused issues over the years, resulting in a small disability. I also have an eye condition called Keratoconus. I am not blind by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have difficulty with light sensitivity, visual distortion and discomfort. I use 2 contact lenses per eye and this helps me gain vision just good enough to drive. My aim in life is to inspire other with such conditions to be positive and embrace life, I aim to test my eye condition to all kinds of extreme conditions and prove that this can be done. 

We hear you’ve just come back from an expedition in Sweden – what did you get up to there?
I deployed with Fortitude. The expedition was in Arctic Sweden with temperatures around -35°c at night. We traveled by dog sled, living off the land and with the help of the locals, it was an incredible experience and something I shall never forget.

What did you enjoy about your time in Sweden? And what was challenging?
The most enjoyable part was doing something I had never experienced before, seeing the northern lights, making new friends, getting to know how to dog sled effectively and living off the land. The most challenging part was quite simply the cold, everything froze, including my eye medication (things like drops and solution). The pain I felt in my extremities was unbelievable, something I had not prepared for and I suspect I could not have prepared for any better. 

Why do you think other wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women should get involved with events like the one you’ve just been on?
I believe it is very important for us to share these experiences with like-minded individuals, gaining new friends, sharing our stories and getting help. 

How has getting involved with this expedition helped you on your journey to recovery? 
Certainly for me it was a time to realise how far I have come over the last few years. We all have a story to tell, and what better way to share it then at -35°c beneath the northern lights, sitting by a fire I had made with some incredible people. I’d like to thank Fortitude, the Endeavour Fund, the event organiser Ian O’Grady and my wife and kids for allowing this to happen, it has been an amazing experience and something I would never have done if it wasn't for them. I am forever grateful. 

 

Ashley Winter in Arctic Sweden
Ashley Winter in Arctic Sweden