5 minutes with: Ed Suttie
PUBLISHED: 17:55 30 March 2016 | UPDATED: 18:27 30 March 2016
A St Albans ‘middle-aged husband and dad’ who this month will trek 200km over 21 days to the North Pole to raise £30,000 for charities that have a big impact in Herts
Why the polar trek?
I was inspired when I read about Australian polar guide Eric Philips whose company organises expeditions. Who would not want to stand on top of the world? I was ready for a challenge and felt it was an amazing opportunity to raise £30,000 for charity in a city where I have lived for 20 years – it’s time to give something back. My friends think I’m crazy, brave, odd, inspiring – a real mixture! My family has been incredibly supportive. Clare my wife and ‘polar PA’ has been organising lots of fundraising events for the charities including a Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day – 150 brave people jumped in a freezing outdoor pool, raising over £5,000. I also just gave a talk at my children’s school, Aboyne Lodge Primary, and they were very proud of their polar dad.
What charities are you supporting?
I was keen to connect strongly with my local community. Cancer is a disease that touches us all. My dad died way too young from it, so did my neighbour last year and others I know are battling it now. In 1970 you had a one-in-four chance of surviving cancer, in 2010 it was two-in-four and Cancer Research UK is working towards three. Rennie Grove Hospice Care supports people with life-limiting diseases and their families in Herts and has to raise huge amounts of money each year to deliver existing services let alone new ones. The support they gave to my neighbour was amazing.
Earthworks St Albans is a wonderful charity working with 60 trainees who have learning difficulties or brain injuries on a four-acre allotment growing fruit and veg for sale. The trainees gain horticultural skills but most importantly have a superb social environment to build self-confidence and make friends.
I am also raising money for UK Antarctic Heritage Trust which looks after the fabulous historic polar explorer buildings in Antarctica.
Have you done anything like this before?
My first job out of university was working for the British Antarctic Survey as a glaciologist studying pollution records in ice cores in Antarctica. I completed two summer seasons, travelling around Coats Land collecting samples and recording data. I also spent a month assisting a glaciologist in Svalbard in the high Arctic. This was all a long time ago in the early 1990s, but once you’ve been to the polar regions you can’t seem to shake off the draw of icy places.
How do you prepare?
I started training in June, joining a gym and getting my first personal trainer! It requires whole body fitness and I do something every day including running, strengthening muscles, yoga and cardio work. I’ve also popped into the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead to refresh my ski skills.
I’m most looking forward to getting into the rhythm of the trek. There are five of us including the guide and we work together as a team sharing chores and jobs including navigation. After a couple of days we will get into the rhythm and should be working well.
How can people support the fundraising?
There are so many ways. I am seeking direct sponsorship and donations from individuals and businesses, 100% of which goes to charity as I am self-funding the expedition. Full details are at Ed2NorthPole.org