A once-in-a-lifetime adventure sledding across the Arctic Circle saw two MEA staff raise more than £2,000 for The Children’s Centre.
Human resources administrator Helen Callow and IT technician Rod Kaye were part of a 10-strong team that covered 250km of the Arctic in six days, using huskies to travel from Tromso in Norway into Sweden, through the highlands and deep forests of Lapland, to finish at the famous Ice Hotel in the village of Jukkasjärvi.
Helen and Rod, who funded the trip themselves, each led a team of huskies.
‘It was by far the hardest, most amazing and most emotional thing I have ever attempted,’ said Helen, aged 33. ‘The dogs were outstanding and it was very emotional having to give them back – I would have happily kept and taken home all of my team!
‘I am extremely proud of myself and the rest of the team. It’s hard to put into words how difficult the challenge was, both physically and mentally. We camped in extreme temperatures and it was difficult to get warm in wet tents and sleeping bags. The camp duties each morning and night were physically demanding and there wasn’t a spare minute to relax. We were also responsible for looking after our own team of dogs and trying to get them through knee-high snow in the mornings to the sleds when they are raring to go was a challenge in itself.
‘When we crossed the finish I don’t think there was a dry eye anywhere. The dog sledding itself was fabulous, but it isn’t as easy as it looks and some of the terrain was really challenging.’
Rod, aged 52, said: ‘We knew at the onset that the challenge was going to be hard, and it really proved to be physically demanding. We had up to eight hours of sledding a day without a break, all food and water was consumed on the go, or grabbed if someone needed assistance with the sled.
‘The terrain was difficult and quite technical which led to many falls. The long days were followed by hard graft, tending to the dogs and setting up camp. Even just walking around the camp in knee-deep snow was energy-sapping, and there was no opportunity to put your feet up and relax at the end of the day. By eight o’clock all you wanted to do was get into your sleeping bag, try to get warm and get some sleep.
‘But the rewards were immense. The dogs were brilliant to work with, the wilderness spectacular and the teamwork developed over the expedition was great. The feeling of achievement at the end was tremendous.’
Mark Eastham, fundraising co-ordinator for The Children’s Centre, said: ‘We’d like to say a massive thank you to the whole team. In total the trip raised the amazing amount of £14,115, money that will go directly to supporting children, young people and families across the island.’
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Weather for Isle of Man
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: South