Published 19 April 2013

Meet challenge head-on and overcome it and inspire others to do the same.

The Duke of Sussex

Ivan, thank you very much.

So, here we are again: Inge Solheim, the Norwegian slave-driver - slash - heavy snorer, our leaders Ed Parker and Simon Daglish - they who share a mere follicle between them - and some new friends, the stars of the show: the men and women of the Walking with the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge.

In three short years, Walking with the Wounded has come from a wonderful, faintly mad idea, involving four nutters - Jaco, Martin, Guy and Steve - and the aforementioned trio of dinosaurs, to a multinational challenge, with teams from the UK, the Commonwealth and America, this time racing each other to the bottom of the world. Though, we are not allowed to officially call it a race!

The format may be different.  The scale is certainly different.  But the aim remains the same:  to enable our wounded to do what they and all other Servicemen and women do better than anyone else I know: meet challenge head-on and overcome it and inspire others to do the same. 

Ladies and gentlemen, these men and women have given their all in the cause of freedom, in our cause. That they should once again step into the breach - this time facing down the extreme physical and mental challenges of trekking to the South Pole - just underlines their remarkable qualities.

So, what are these qualities? Courage.to be sure.  Physical strength, endurance, a sense of comradeship.absolutely. But there's something else, something deeper than that. Something that continues to draw me back to this charity and these people time and again - and always will.

It's toughness of mind. An unquenchable spirit that simply refuses to say 'I am beaten'.  In a way it's something that can't be defined.  You've either got it or you haven't.  It's the spirit that lead someone once to say, "When disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton." Ed pretty much never got off his knees on the way to the North Pole, let's hope that doesn't happen again!  

So, it just remains for me to say to 'Soldier On Canada', 'Soldiers to Summits' from the US and 'Soldier On Australia' welcome to the party.  As a member of the British team, I will have a brew on ready for you when you join us at the Pole.