Thursday, 13 March 2008

My daughter on her way to North Pole record

PROUD Watchet mother Julian Burbury spoke yesterday (Wednesday) of the bravery being shown by her daughter, Hannah McKeand, who is attempting to become the first woman to reach the North Pole alone and unaided.
Hannah, aged 34, (pictured, right) who was raised in Watchet but now lives in Newbury, Berkshire, set off on Friday from Canada’s Ward Hunt Island hoping to cover the 478 miles to the pole in just 60 days.
Two years ago, Hannah set a new record - for both men and women - for the fastest solo ski trek to the South Pole in a time of 39 days, nine hours, and 33 minutes.
Now, Hannah will have to negotiate the frozen Arctic Ocean, at time swimming in a suit through waters as cold as minus 60 degrees and where floating ice can crumble and pile up into long ridges as high as a house.
She will ski, walk, and swim, and has to carry all her equipment, including pepper spray and a shotgun to ward off polar bears, and her provisions on a 120 kg pulk.
Hannah expects to burn up to 8000 calories a day - the equivalent of running a marathon every day – and to compensate for the weight loss she has had to put on three-and-a-half stone in preparation for the expedition.
Her provisions include a mixture of freeze dried meals and high calorie snacks such as chocolate, fudge, cheese, butter, salami, nuts, and oil.
Mrs Burbury told The Post how Hannah had spoken to her using an internet telephone just before setting off from the island.
She said: “I am very, very proud of her. I think it is wonderful and I am watching her progress and I think she is definitely going to do it.
“I think if she does not do it, then nobody else will.
“I have the computer on all the time to check her progress and she is going at a rate of knots. If she does it, I think it will be a record nobody else will beat.
“Ward Hunt Island is a piece of glacier which has been undisturbed for 3,000 years, but the aerial view shows the cracking that has started and it is coming apart, so Hannah might be the last person who is able to do this particular journey.”
While Hannah hopes to raise £5,000 for the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, she also still needs funds to help cover the actual cost of the expedition.
Anybody who wants to support her financially can send donations via West Somerset’s local radio station Quaywest FM, in Watchet.
Mrs Burbury said: “There are so many people who remember her, that I hope they will feel able to give something to help with the cost.”
Five years ago, British explorer Pen Hadow, then aged 41, became the first person to reach the North Pole unaided from Canada.

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