CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Interview with 14-year-old record-breaker Ben Edwards

PUBLISHED: 16:40 30 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:40 30 January 2017

Ben Edwards

Ben Edwards


Ben Edwards, a pupil at St Christopher School in Letchworth, has sailed into the record books as the youngest person to circumnavigate the North Pole

You took on the daunting Polar Ocean Challenge – 20 weeks and 13,500 nautical miles in freezing conditions – at just 14. Why?

On top of simply being attracted to the idea of an adventure, I wanted to raise money for Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust. I spent two weeks in Addenbrooke’s Hopital in Cambridge a couple of years ago with an inflammatory bowel problem. The incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis) is increasing in children and Addenbrooke’s is leading research into the disease in children.

The British crew was led by industrialist and adventurer David Hempleman-Adams. How did you prepare to meet the exacting conditions?

In 2015, I spent a month and a half on the boat Northabout sailing up to Svalbard, Norway, with some of the crew who joined me for the Polar Ocean Challenge. Before and after that, I did a number of Royal Yachting Association courses, including the competent-crew and sea-survival-skills courses.

What were the highlights?

Arriving in Upernavik in Greenland – that was the end of the Northeast and Northwest Passages. I got to see my mother again, spend a night off the boat, and was just relieved that the hardest part was over. I was wrong about that – the Atlantic was horrible.

Were there any times you felt in danger?

Absolutely – when we had to run away from polar bears after anchoring and waiting for the ice to break. We were also trapped in a hurricane in the North-East Passage north of Russia, with winds of up to 76 knots – equivalent to 90mph. Speeding in between icebergs at nine knots in the dark. And having nine-metre waves in the Atlantic at the start. But not enough to make me think I should get off.

You are youth ambassador for Wicked Weather Watch – what’s that?

It’s a charity set up by David Hempleman-Adams to educate young people about climate change. One of the ways it does this is by gathering first-hand evidence from people who have been to the high latitudes and bringing their stories and evidence back to schools.

David has been going to the Arctic for many years and has seen how the ice has decreased over this time. The first time Northabout sailed through the Northwest Passage was the year I was born. The crew saw ice every day and had real difficulty getting through. We saw almost no ice in the Northwest Passage. While it took us four months to circumnavigate the North Pole, 14 years ago they had to go so slowly because of the ice that it took a season to do the Northeast Passage and another to do the Northwest Passage.

Where do you get your sense of adventure and what’s the next one?

My sense of adventure has been definitely cultivated by my parents. Next, I’m hoping to walk to one of the Poles. But at the moment it’s GCSEs.

To support Ben’s fundraising goal of £20,000 for research into inflammatory bowel disease in children, go to


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Fri, 17:09

Escape to the Chateau star Angel Adoree is currently reaping the benefits of her incredible vision and drive to build an overseas wedding and lifestyle business from scratch with husband Dick Strawbridge. Here she tells Essex Life about series five of the hit Channel 4 show and how a strong Essex work ethic helped her dream so big | Words: Denise Marshall

Read more
Fri, 16:28

Spirit Yachts is a Suffolk success story. After 25 years of designing and building luxury vessels sailed all over the world, it has plenty to celebrate | Words: Ross Bentley

Read more
Fri, 13:13

Actor Tom Burke talks to JUDI SPIERS about his production of Don Carlos staged by his own theatre company Ara, in association with Exeter’s Northcott Theatre

Read more
Fri, 13:09

250 years ago this month a baron’s servant smashed down a bedroom door in St Albans’ White Hart Inn to find a prince in bed with his master’s wife. Cue a court case, a delighted press, and much airing of royal underwear

Read more
November 2018

As the Lord Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham James, or Bishop Graham to his flock and many friends, prepares to retire, he bids a fond farewell to Norfolk

Read more
November 2018
Fri, 00:00

Piotr Jajszczyk is a master jeweller who works for a 125-year-old Harrogate firm that has made jewellery for kings and presidents.

Read more
Thu, 16:56

Millennium Care believe in independence and ‘Why not’ when it comes to what helping their residents fulfil dreams.

Read more
Thu, 00:00

Actor and broadcaster Sushil Chudasama explains why a Blackburn park is so special to him

Read more
Wed, 15:32

Graphic artist Chris Gibson is bringing Hampshire’s landmarks in to people’s homes with his nostalgic posters

Read more
Wed, 13:28

Hannah Salisbury from the Essex Record Office tells the story of an exciting project that is taking memories on tour around the county

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search