A team of wounded servicemen - accompanied by celebrity patrons Prince Harry, Dominic West and Alexander Skarsgard - did something extraordinary today when they completed a gruelling slog to the South Pole which had been bedevilled by atrocious conditions and had at one stage seemed impossible to complete at all.
However shortly after 3pm GMT, Walking With The Wounded sent the first pictures of a very hairy Prince Harry and the boys celebrating as they made it to the most southerly point on earth.
Prince Harry said today “We’re here! I am about 10 meters away from the Pole. Everyone is sort of scattered now, we’ve been here for about 20 minutes maybe half an hour. It’s an amazing feeling, it really is.
"Every single one of these twelve deserves it. I mean they have dug out blind to get here, Duncan you know, it’s just remarkable the fact that someone with no legs has made it here, and to have done it in record breaking time, no doubt.
"And Ivan as well, when I look across I see him being guided around you know, totally blind, from America, and absolutely hates the cold, and you know he’s not doing it for himself, he’s doing it for his buddies back home, and that goes for everybody, every single one here.
"All 12 of them have different reasons for being here and I don’t think it’s necessarily something that for all of them that it will, either tonight or tomorrow or when they get back home, but what an amazing journey for every single one of them and this charity really does do amazing things. It’s not just for the small minority that are here but hopefully in time to come through the documentary, and all the stories back home. It will just prove to everybody that there’s so much that can be made possible when you think that nothing is left.
"But I’m so proud, I’m so chuffed and I’m so privileged to be here with all these guys and girls, and well done to Ed and Dags and everyone who’s organised this, what an amazing accomplishment. I think we’ll be having a few whiskeys tonight and then everyone’s looking forward to getting home.
The trek - which had started out as a race but saw the competitive element abandonned after team members began to pick up injuries - was sponsored by Virgin Money.
The challenge consisted of three seven-man teams from the UK, Commonwealth and USA – each with four wounded team members.They were nearly snowed in at Novolazarevskaya Station, Antarctica where they arrived in mid-November. The teams of service personnel, all of whom have physical or cognitive injuries, have walked 335km across the Antarctic Plateau.
Trekking around 15km to 20km per day, the teams have endured temperatures as low as -45°C and 50mph winds as they pulled their pulks (custom built arctic sledges), each weighing in excess of 70kg, towards the southernmost point on the globe.As with previous Walking With The Wounded expeditions, the South Pole Allied Challenge aims to highlight the extraordinary courage and determination of the men and women who have been wounded while serving their countries and to draw attention to the need to help in their career transition.