FWC recently announced that it will be supporting Wendy Searle, a forces wife, on her solo, unsupported and unassisted expedition to the South Pole. We caught up with Wendy this week to see how she’s getting on, now that there is less than 100 days to go before she departs.
“I’m single-minded about this expedition. It has required dedication and sacrifice for years. My poor family are used to it now but training every day is non-negotiable – even if that’s very early in the morning (yuck!), or very late at night.”
Wendy’s commitment has seen her training in the dark, in all types of horrible weather and pulling her beloved tyre around the woods at night. However, as the FWC volcano team will attest, there is more than just physical preparation required if Wendy is going to be in prime position to be the fastest woman across Antarctica.
“The mental preparation has been harder; we’re not alone very often and it’s this that I think is going to be the real challenge – making decisions, navigating, hauling my supplies, getting myself out of the tent every day to get going.” Wendy explained that being the sole carer of her four children while her husband is away on operations has helped her get in the right frame of mind. “It can be extremely tiring juggling it all when my husband is away – especially now I have to fit in training. Recently I was training in Greenland and found myself thinking ‘oh it’s not as bad as looking after the family and working during an op tour – after all I only have myself to worry about out here!” Something which we don’t doubt many of our readers can empathise with!
Talking of what inspired this epic adventure, Wendy said, “I was the expedition manager for a group of soldiers who did an Antarctic traverse. While I was supporting them, I got hooked on the idea of trying to do a Polar journey myself, reading a lot of Polar history and being inspired by the likes of Shackleton and Amundsen. It was through their expedition leader and advisor to the FWC volcano team, Captain Louis Rudd MBE, that I was introduced to FWC.”
So, unsupported and unassisted – ‘what’s this!?’ we hear you cry. Well, Wendy will be carrying her entire kit, equipment, food and fuel for a journey that is expected to last around five to six weeks. In order to keep to the terms of the record attempt, this means she must not drop off or pick up any supplies and receive absolutely no outside assistance. Quite an extraordinary thing to be doing, alone, over the Christmas period - so we were wondering what is driving Wendy to pursue this? “My aims are to inspire women and girls to overcome challenges and barriers to adventure. In addition, I will be undertaking scientific research and raising awareness of the fragility of this otherworldly continent through work with the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.”
Wendy will also be raising money for two charities close to her heart, Youth Adventure Trust, which she volunteers with helping disadvantaged young people access expeditions of their own, and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity where Wendy worked for many years providing vital welfare assistance to soldiers, veterans and their families. “I’ve seen first-hand how it helped so quickly when required. For example, when a veteran couldn’t afford a new boiler, or a family needs their mortgage paying as a veteran had been kidnapped (this is a real example), the charity stepped in. It might be quieter than some military charities, but it does excellent work.”
For anyone who is au fait with the FWC ethos, you’ll know that we share Wendy’s ambition to demonstrate what the power of challenge and adventure can do for us, which is why we are so proud to support her on this expedition.
“FWC just get it. They get what it’s like to juggle a busy family and work life with a partner in the Armed Forces who’s constantly away. Yet amongst all this they get the importance of carving out a place for yourself and maintaining your own identity and independence. Their support is so important – that feeling of FWC having my back, helping me with fundraising when they have their own commitments, that belief in me and what I’m trying to do, it’s more than I could ever have asked for.”
Lastly we asked Wendy what advice she has for anyone seeking their own adventures. “Whatever your dream, start there and work back. Start now – not next week, or after the summer holidays, now, tonight. Whether it is putting your trainers on and going for your first run, or speaking to someone for advice on a challenge you’ve set your heart on. Don’t just start though - keep going. I look back at the last four years and I sometimes pinch myself when I realise just how far I’ve come. Small steps done consistently really add up. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this expedition has changed my life, and that’s before I’ve even got to the start line!”
Wendy leaves for Antarctica in November 2019 and will be updating her news feeds daily. If you’d like to follow her journey then you can find Wendy at the following social media channels:
Twitter / Instagram: @betweensnowandsky