Northern Exposure 2011

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From 19.02.2011 - Status: postponed

The RAF tries the North Pole

The RAF tries the North Pole

© RAF / IPF

Two RAF officers Matt Stowers and Jules Weeks are trying the classical trek Ward Hunt North Pole. They want also to raise money and increase awareness for Combat Stress.

The RAF Regiment 'Northern Exposure 2011' Expedition will set out from Cape Discovery in northern Canada at the end of February 2011 and cross 478 miles (769km) of the vast frozen sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. This adventure is being undertaken by Wing Commander Matt Stowers and Squadron Leader Jules Weekes who were training in Courchevel, France, on pre-expedition training before flying to Resolute.

Wg Cdr Stowers, from Plymouth, joined the Royal Air Force as a Regiment Officer when he was 19. Having completed his training he was posted to Number II Squadron RAF Regiment, the Corps only parachute-capable unit, as a Flight Commander. He has subsequently served on Number II Squadron RAF Regiment as both the Deputy Squadron Commander and the Squadron Commander and has recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said: "I have been very fortunate during my time in the Royal Air Force to have had the opportunity to undertake a number of demanding sporting activities. In my early twenties I skied for the Royal Air Force in both the Nordic and Biathlon British Championships, and have maintained an interest in skiing ever since."

"In 2003, with another Royal Air Force Regiment Officer, I rowed across the Atlantic. The journey was an epic; we expected to complete the crossing in about 55 days - the journey actually took 78 days, 5 hours and 43 minutes. Although the row was both physically and mentally demanding it taught me a lot about 'big trips' and only served to heighten my desire to do even more demanding trips."

Sqn Ldr Weekes also joined the RAF when he was 19 and on completion of his training was posted to Northern Ireland where he served for 18 months as a Flight Commander. After this tour, he was attached to the Army for a number of years, and also served with the Royal Marines in Iraq: "I keep a very active lifestyle which includes both competitive sport and various Adventurous Training activities including mountaineering and scuba diving," he said. "During my time with the Army I undertook a full season of Nordic and biathlon skiing and have since skied regularly both alpine and touring. "Although I have participated in a number of expeditions, none have been as arduous or as demanding as this, but I am looking forward to the challenge."

Combat Stress is the UK's leading military charity specialising in the care of Veterans' mental health. "We've both been at the sharp end of combat operations, and while physical injuries get a lot of publicity, we want to help highlight the mental trauma that can cause so much unseen damage," said Matt Stowers.

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