Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Prince Harry hopes to join disabled troops Pole trek

Prince Harry: "I hope to join the team for five days"

Prince Harry has launched the first unaided trek to the North Pole for disabled servicemen and said he would like to take part in the challenge.

The royal, who is patron of the Walking with the Wounded charity organising the four-week trek, launched the event at The Rifles Club in west London.

The amputees will try to reach the geographic North Pole from Siberia.

They will haul heavy sledges over 300 miles (483km) across the frozen Arctic Ocean in temperatures down to -50C.

Organisers say next year's trek hopes to raise £1m in money to help rehabilitate wounded service personnel back into the workplace.

"These guys have such extraordinary courage and determination... we felt doing something extraordinary like this would show these guys are extraordinary people," said expedition leader Ed Parker.

'Tenacity and courage'

The 25-year-old prince, who has been training to become a pilot with the Army Air Corps for more than a year, said he would like to join the team in the Arctic, possibly for five days.

They are a huge example to us all. What a wonderful inspiration they are to take on this massive challenge

Prince Harry

"You will be glad to know that if my military commitments allow me I would love to join the team," he said.

He said the project exemplified the "tenacity and courage of those who serve[d] our country" and appealed to the public to get behind the project.

"They are a huge example to us all. What a wonderful inspiration they are to take on this massive challenge," he said.

Joking that he hoped he would be able to "keep up" with the team if he was able to take part, Harry, who has served in Afghanistan, finished by saying: "Good luck, and let's get an Army flag on the North Pole before my brother lands a helicopter there."

The team hopes to enter the record books by becoming the first service amputees to reach the remote destination.

Expert guides, including adventurers Henry Cookson and Inge Solheim, will accompany the amputees through tough terrain and hazards, including aggressive polar bears.

Mr Solheim said the 15-hour days and extreme cold would be two of the main challenges.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said candidates are still being whittled down for the record attempt in April next year.

He said those on the final shortlist will undertake their first Arctic ice training in May.

Rob Copsey is one of the four finalists - from whom two will be picked - hoping to participate in the expedition.

The former serviceman, who lost his right leg below the knee in an anti-personnel mine during a humanitarian mission in Rwanda in 1994, has already completed three marathons.

"I set myself a challenge early on after losing my leg, I wanted to prove to my friends and family that I was OK.

"Anybody can do it, half the battle is in your head and the other half is the physical side - you can overcome both, you just need to plan and be determined," he said.

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The soldiers hope to become the first amputees from the forces to reach the North Pole



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