On December 13, 2013, Major Ibrar Ali of the Yorkshire Regiment stood at the SouthPole. With him were eleven other service-men and -women, a handful of guides and organisers, oh – and Prince Harry from the British Royal Family.
The entire team had trekked (although that’s far too mild a word) across 200 kilometres of punishing snow and ice, through brutally low temperatures for thirteen days, dragging their equipment behind them -skiing over the rough terrain for two hours, resting for ten minutes all day, until the evenings when they had to pitch their tents and begin the two hour process of melting snow with which to hydrate their evening meal.
Yet every one of the service-men and women had been severely injured fighting overseas.
There were no snowmobiles – no teams of dogs. A medical team was on alert but otherwise, the three teams (American, British and Commonwealth) had no backup or support.
Ibi Ali had a typical story. One of six children from Rotherham, he was attracted into the army and his patrol vehicle was returning to Basra when it was blown to pieces by a bomb. A colleague died in the attack, several others were badly injured. Ibi himself suffered severe injuries, including the loss of an arm.
Amongst the soldiers who walked to the South Pole were an American who had been blinded, a British double amputee and several men and women who had been severely disabled by their service to their countries.
Why did they undertake this marathon mission? To give hope to others – as Prince Harry says ‘it’s as simple as that’. Heroes indeed. Hear Ibi’s story: