Belfast Telegraph

Richard takes Pole position on mission for sick children

by Natalie Gorman

After a gruelling year-long isolated fitness training schedule, a local man is set to cross a polar ice cap next week in a bid to raise funds for the Belfast children’s hospital.

Next Tuesday, April 5, 21-year-old Richard Franklyn will take the first step on his 342-mile journey along the Arctic circle in Greenland — facing Arctic storms and temperatures of -40° that can freeze exposed skin in seconds.

Taking 30 days, this unsupported expedition will also mean Richard becomes the youngest Irishman ever to complete the challenge. But Richard’s primary goal is raising as much as possible for the Helping Hands charity that supports the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Richard, who is not new to harsh training schedules having taken part in triathalons around world, told the Community Telegraph: “To date all of the events I have taken part in have been one-day events, a few have been four days. I have never done anything that’s anywhere near this type of endurance, so I have been training and preparing for this for well over a year now.

“Unfortunately, my friends aren’t into the same kind of fitness training as me, so it’s been quite lonely and I have had to give up on all the nights out they go on. But this is worth it, and because it’s such a different challenge I’m hoping it will give more people a reason to sponsor the trek. It would terrific if I could raise £15,000 from this challenge.”

Richard was only five when he “first got the bug” for outdoor adventures when his grandfather Alan Nesbitt took him camping on the Mournes.

To succeed in his latest challenge, Richard will have to make a complete east to west coast crossing of Greenland, the world’s second-largest icecap, whilst hauling all his equipment on a sledge which will weigh around 80/90kg.

Other hazards to be faced include hidden crevasses which could swallow both man and sledge, and the very real possibility of meeting polar bears which inhabit the area.

Richard has undertaken a strenuous regime including marathon running and regular tyre-pulling sessions along Murlough Bay.

“I’ve just got back from Norway where my two fellow team members from England and myself did a test run. It was great that the temperatures dropped to -38° as it has helped us prepare and test equipment. We practised putting our tents up in these conditions. It’s so important that we do things like this as quick as we can.”

Finlay Communication is sponsoring all the cost of the trip which ensures every penny Richard raises goes directly to the charity.

To follow Richard’s progress, log on to www.richardfranklyn.com or to contact the charity email helpinghandrbhsc@btconnect.com

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