In 2011, Prince Harry joined a team of four wounded servicemen in the Arctic on their way to the North Pole with the charity Walking With The Wounded. Later that same year a new team would stand atop the eighth highest mountain in the world but fell short of their ultimate goal of the summit of Everest the following season. At the close of 2013, Prince Harry joined another team of British service personnel and their comrades from the USA, Canada and Australia as they successfully trekked to the South Pole.
The teams consisted of wounded service personnel who carried the physical and psychological scars of war with them across the frozen continent. When they set off on 1st December 2013, each of them pulled pulks weighing up to 85kg containing provisions and equipment needed for the journey. They trekked 200km across the ice over 13 days gruelling days in average temperatures of -35 degrees centigrade. They battled through some tough conditions in their journey to the Pole, including the effects of the high altitude of the plateau. Although originally conceived as a race, halfway through the voyage, the three teams came together as one, no longer competing but working together to reach their goal. The united team reached the South Pole on 13th December 2013.
“It’s no secret to all the South Pole team members that I made a promise to my teammate and friend Craig who was killed in the same blast. The promise to not waste a single minute of my life and to not waste this gift he had given me. Walking With The Wounded has not only helped me keep this promise, it has helped me surpass it. I no longer awake with fear of disappointing or failing him.…”CHRIS – TEAM COMMONWEALTH
As he stood at the bottom of the world with his team mates Prince Harry said:
“It’s not just for the small minority that are here but hopefully in time to come through the documentary and all the stories back home, this will prove to everybody that there’s so much that can be made possible when you think that nothing is left.”
The Endeavour Fund chose to support this adventure not just because of the inspirational challenge they set for the teams, not just because of the concept of involving comrades from other nations who have fought shoulder to shoulder with each other, but also because of the work conducted as a result of the expedition. The South Pole Challenge raises the profile of issues surrounding wounded, injured and sick (WIS) personnel and amplifies the actions of the courageous participants. This sets the conditions for substantial fundraising; funds that are then used to reskill, retrain and reintegrate WIS veterans into employment following discharge from the Armed Forces. In short, this was an adventure that promised to change the lives of the participants and to capture the imagination of all who followed the race, but also one that will deliver a practical legacy for all wounded, injured and sick service personnel into the future.
Its effects will be felt around the world. This was a united global endeavour that brought together charitable organisations from across the world, it is hoped that such collaboration will forge alliances that will aid communication and spread best practice to increase the effectiveness of welfare support for WIS personnel and veterans around the globe.