Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Wounded troops celebrate Pole glory

The Walking with the Wounded team have reached the North Pole three days ahead of schedule

A team of wounded soldiers were celebrating in the Arctic after they reached the North Pole.

Prince Harry, who took part in the first four days of the expedition, said he was "thrilled" and was first to congratulate them on their "awesome achievement" by satellite phone.

It took the four servicemen just 13 days to complete the 170-mile challenge with the two co-founders of the Walking With The Wounded charity and their expedition leader. The trek is the first time a group of servicemen with such serious injuries, including two with amputated limbs, have reached the North Pole completely unaided.

Leading the tributes to his teammates, Prince Harry, 26, said: "I'm absolutely thrilled that the guys have made it - what an awesome achievement.

"They should be incredibly proud of making this world record, as we are proud of them. I took part in only a small section of the trek, but I know full well how physically demanding it was."

The group had expected their trek to take up to four weeks, so they completed the feat twice as quickly as they had planned. Harry, the patron of Walking With The Wounded, added: "The spirit and determination of these lads is second to none. They are true role models. And to reach the Pole early - well that's just showing off."

All four men sustained their life-changing injuries while fighting in Afghanistan.

Capt Martin Hewitt, 30, from Widnes in Cheshire, was left with a paralysed right arm after being shot and Capt Guy Disney, 29, from Oxford, had his right leg amputated below the knee after he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

Sgt Stephen Young, 28, from Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf, suffered a broken back after his vehicle was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED), and Pte Jaco Van Gass, 24, from South Africa, had his left arm amputated and was left with significant tissue loss to his left leg when he too was hit by an RPG.

Simon Daglish, 45, and Ed Parker, also 45, the co-founders of the charity which aims to raise £2 million for other injured servicemen and women, completed the group led by Inge Solheim, 38, a polar expert.

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