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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 11:09 GMT
Royal firefighter in Arctic challenge
Jim McNeill and expedition back-up team
Mr McNeill will trek alone but with a back-up team
A firefighter from the royal household has set off on a charity quest to become the first solo explorer to reach all four North poles.

Jim McNeill, 42, a fire surveillance officer at Windsor Castle, hopes to smash five records on his ice adventure, including walking to the Arctic, the Magnetic, the Geomagnetic and the Geographic poles.

He will walk a total of 2,200 miles (3,540km) on the expedition, covering distances of up to 900 miles (1,450km) between the poles.

The Ice Warrior project is in aid of Cancer Research UK.

I love being challenged and I don't think life has yet challenged me to my full potential

Jim McNeill
The charity is also encouraging school children to follow news of the trek and do experiments related to it at school.

It hopes the experiments will encourage the next generation of cancer specialists.

Mr McNeill, of Sunninghill in Berkshire, said: "People ask me why I'm doing this and the simple answer is that I love being challenged and I don't think life has yet challenged me to my full potential, even though I've taken part in numerous Arctic projects since 1984."

His expedition back-up team will work in conjunction with 11 universities in the UK, US, Canada and the Netherlands to understand the human survival instinct and test out the latest technologies.

Satellite link

A sled will carry enough food and equipment for the 70-day trek while protecting him from freezing temperatures and polar bears during the night.

His wife Lorraine and their three children will watch his progress by satellite.

McNeill added: "There will inevitably be stresses and strains on my family, friends and colleagues back home but they are firmly behind me and they understand that this is much more than just a personal quest."


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See also:

23 Jan 03 | England
09 Jan 03 | England
09 Dec 02 | Science/Nature
05 Oct 02 | Americas
27 May 02 | Scotland
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