I do love a challenge and over the years I have got steadily more adventurous with the Shackleton Epic re-enactment in 2013 being right up there. My next challenge tops even that and it has never been achieved.
Over two Antarctic Summer seasons I will attempt to be the first man to cross the entire Antarctic Continent from Coast to Coast, unsupported, unassissted and Solo.
My first season will be my run out with a 715 mile journey from Hercules inlet to the South Pole. This will be done as quickly as possible and give an opprtunity for the logistics teams and sponsors to understand me and my abilities to take on the bigger crossing 12 months later.
The second season will be the big one, 2019-2020 will see the journey increase to 1800 miles in only 100 days.
Well it is for many reasons and I will try to list them in as succinct a way as I can.
Those who know me well will know that I have spent many years raising as much money and awareness as I can for our forces both serving, veterans and their families alike. I have lost more friends to conflict than I care to mention and I have seen first hand the devastaion it has on all those who were part of their lives, expecially children. So, through my continued work with The Baton www.thebaton.co.uk and supporting the Royal Marines Charity www.theroyalmarinescharity.org.uk I will continue to do that. Issues caused by being involved in forces life due to conflict never go away and while I can, nor will I.
Foundation for Children:
Children of military or service families are exposed to unique experiences, which may include; separation from a parent, frequent moving of house, caring for a sibling or parent, taking responsibility for the household or sudden deployment from a combat zone – all of which may impact on the way children lead their lives both now and in the future. The challenges each child or Service family face are different, however Service children who face regular moves from home and school can suffer high levels of anxiety and stress, also their health and their ability to learn may be disrupted especially when their parents are deployed to armed conflicts overseas. In addition, children with additional or complex health needs may find continuality of care a problem due to regular moves and may feel isolated or find it difficult to cope without the support from the extended family or local community networks.
The last 15 years has seen a rapid increase in the understanding of Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and our ability to recognise it then treat it has become better than ever. It is a serious issue facing all walks of life but in particular the forces community has been hit the hardest.
This is nothing new, it’s just better understood in today’s society. When we understand something and know it is wrong then we need to act.
Challenge Antarctica is acting and doing what it can to by using adventure and expeditions as inspiration to help children who have suffered due to forces life the worst types of stress and anxiety. The foundation will work with all the major forces charities, schools and government organisations to identify children that can utilise the facilities in the form of overseas adventure trips we will be setting up over the next two years. The fresh air and the great remote outdoors has an incredible effect on the human mind and when surrounded by the right people the benefits can be immeasurable to the point of turning a child’s life into a better brighter and clearer future; one of hope, courage and confidence.
I have also for many years used my knowledge and experiences to educate and speak in schools all over the UK and abroad, most recently in Gibraltar and Geneva. The children are our future and having the opportunity to be involed in their lives through what I do is truly humbling. The reaction from children when they learn about adventure and far flung parts of the planet is priceless and if I can be an inspiration to just a few of them it is worth it. A recent quote from one headmaster:
"Baz Gray’s visit to GES was truly inspirational. He enthralled us with stories of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and with the courage and leadership skills of former explorers such as Ernest Shackleton. He was equally at ease speaking with our younger pupils and leading a workshop at GES Secondary. His visit has really captured the imagination of everyone at the school. Both children and staff are keen to embark on a number of interdisciplinary and cross-age projects through which we will discover more about the geography, ecology and wildlife of the fascinating continent of Antarctica. We can’t wait for Barry’s next visit later this term when he will tell us more about his preparation, training and equipment for the exciting expedition that lies ahead. We feel hugely privileged to be part of Challenge Antartica. As Baz said, fewer people have been to the South Pole than have been into Space, so this is a rare and exciting opportunity for us."
Teaching Children in a fun way and not being political is key. Gentle learning, in a way they don't realise they are learning is what it is all about. Learning about our environment and the importance of looking after it is another area I like to touch on regularly which leads me nicely onto
Ever since joining Tim Jarvis's 25Zero team www.25zero.com I have become increasingly aware of the effect global warming is having on the planet. 25Zero is about climbing 25 mountains at Zero lattitude which still have glaciers on them. In 25 years they could all be gone, starting with Carstenz Pyramid in Indonesia which was our first climb. The picture below was taken on the summit of Chimborazo 6300m.
When you are standing on something that actually melts you do not need a degree in glacialogy to point the fact out. Its important we look after the more pristine parts of our planet. We need to understand the past to look at the future and the single most important place to do that is in Antarctica.
Through Challenge Antarctica I will use my extreme expeditions to help discuss and highlight the extreme happenings on our planet.
If you have got this far I am truly humbled and I hope you can go onto support this project however you can, Donation, share, tweet etc.
There are so many people to already thank for supporting this project:
My wife Claire Gray, Mitesh Badiani, Jason Wilcocks, Laura Joint, Chris Lee, Keith Breslauer (Patron Capital), Andries Liebenberg (AmcoGriffen), Dean Burchell, Miles Coleman (China Fleet Country Club), Weslyan, Kevin Kelly, Fiona Brijnath (Arcturus), Ian Holdcroft (The Shackleton Company), The Masonic Lodge, Alex Preston, Jim Searight, Paul White, Ariel Navarro, Carl Day (Toshiba Tec), Trevor Parker (Satcase) and Alan Rowe to name but a few. (There are many more)
Why not join these incredible people that believe in this project, they can't all be wrong. In the long term this project will gove me the abilty to give so much back and to support so many more people.
All funding recieved will immediately go towards pulling this project together which I aim to undertake in the Antarctic Summers of Nov 2018-Jan 2019 and Nov 2019-Feb 2020.
Your good friend
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