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12-year-old Winchcombe boy youngest ever to do Arctic expedition

By EchoMichael  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

Max Keene will trek 130km in temperatures as low as -50 degrees centigrade

Max Keene will trek 130km in temperatures as low as -50 degrees centigrade

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SCHOOLBOY Max Keene is preparing to be the youngest person ever to do an Arctic expedition.

The 12-year-old from Winchcombe will trek 130km in temperatures as low as -50 degrees centigrade in the Canadian Arctic to raise funds for Help4Heroes, which supports injured troops.

Max will put himself at risk of hypothermia, frostbite and even polar bear attacks during the two-week expedition in March.

The year eight pupil at St Edward's School in Cheltenham will be the youngest person ever to do the crossing from Qikiqtarjuaq to Pangnirtung in Baffin Island.

He will be joined on the adventure by his dad Chris, 44, and a trained Arctic explorer who is a family friend.

Max said: "I'm really excited and I didn't have to be persuaded to do it at all – I was really keen.

"But I am a bit nervous because it's really dangerous and there are a lot of risks.

 "There could be polar bears, so we will have two guns with us. During the day, one will fire warning shots and the other will be loaded, but they will both be loaded at night.

"At first my mum did not want us to go, but now she sees that it's a really good thing and will help lots of people."

He added: "I have always been interested in the Arctic and unexplored areas, but I never thought I'd get the chance to go on an expedition."

Max hopes to raise £50,000 for Help4Heroes, and says he was inspired by this summer's Paralympics and the TV show 'Harry's Arctic Heroes', where Prince Harry and a group of injured soldiers trekked to the North Pole.

He said: "I think that the injured servicemen and women of our armed forces are an inspiration, because they risk their lives to keep our country and other nations around the world safe and free.

"When they get a limb blown off in battle they deserve the best support they can get."

Max will have to drag a heavy sledge containing his equipment during the expedition, and to prepare he is pulling lorry tyres with a harness for a mile at a time.

His training also includes hill walks and studying the hazards of the Arctic environment, which includes packs of wolves.

Food on the trip will consist of freeze-dried rations, 'nose bags' containing nuts, chocolate, chewy sweets and cereal bars, and cheese and butter to boost calorie intake.

Their source of water will be melted snow and ice.

Max says his school friends have been very supportive of the expedition.

He said: "They are really interested in the trek. Some of them have joked, asking me if I can write a will and put them in it before I go, but I'm not scared."

St Edward's headteacher Paul Harvey said: "We are very proud of Max and his decision to do this expedition, both in terms of the personal challenge it will be for him but also because he is raising funds for such a worthy cause.

"I think our school motto, Dare to do your Best, is very fitting for Max."

To add to the £2,075 Max has raised so far, go to maxgoestothearctic.co.uk/How-You-Can-Help.html

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  • newsreader1  |  November 09 2012, 6:11PM

    WELL DONE MAX!!! Good Luck with the expedition And the fundraising

    Rate   3
  • spindles12  |  November 08 2012, 8:29PM

    It's all very noble of a 12 year old boy to say he wants to raise money for Help for Heroes by walking in the Arctic but I have my reservations about anyone asking for sponsorship for this kind of thing. Think about it. The person wanting sponsorship is asking people to pay for his "holiday", even if he is doing it for the best of reasons. I have had a look on the website and found that he hopes to go in March 2013 and the fact that he has raised £2,075 and only another £47,025 to go! Any money raised will have the cost of the trip deducted and whatever is left will go to the charity. Quite a few people ask for sponsorship for trips to the North and South Poles but these trips aren't budget holidays, because of the backup etc that is needed so I wonder just how much money will be left for the charity. Back in 2010 Alex Toseland, a man from Gloucester, was asking for sponsorship for the British Antarctic Expedition 2011 where he was going to be the first epileptic to do the trip. He needed £70,000 and was promising to do talks about his experience when he got back. I don't know if he managed it, I would love to find out but having looked on a website about various expeditions there were plenty who intended going but for some reason or another had pulled out. How would anyone feel if they donated money they thought was going to go the Help for Heroes, or any other charity for that matter and were to find that the person didn't go after all. Presumably whatever money was already collected would all be given to the charity? I would much rather give the money AFTER the person had done the trip and not before, after all, would anyone pay for me to go to say Tenerife or Las Vegas to raise money for a charity, I don't think so.

    Rate 0
  • NibNobs  |  November 08 2012, 11:14AM

    Blimey, from the picture Max lives in a massive house - nearly as big as Downton Abbey!!

    Rate   6