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Ed Jackson And His Team To Cross Vatnajokull Glacier

March 28, 2023

    A former rugby player who suffered severe spinal injuries is to cross the largest ice cap in western Europe.

    Ed Jackson, who was BBC’s West’s Unsung Hero in 2021, will join two others to become the first fully disabled team to traverse Iceland’s Vatnajokull Glacier.

    They hope to raise £155,000 – £1,000 for every kilometre of their journey.

    The former Bath and England player said: “Normally I would say I’m just excited. But actually for this one I think I am a little bit nervous.”

    After an accident in 2017, Mr Jackson, who lives near Bath, was told by doctors he might never walk again.

    But he defied his doctors’ predictions by taking on multiple challenges including reaching the top of Snowdon the year after his accident, and climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest by going up and down his parents’ staircase during the pandemic.

    And in 2021, he climbed 12 of the UK’s highest peaks in six days.

    “It’s been a massive part of my own recovery to find that sense of purpose again and to challenge myself,” said Mr Jackson.

    For his next challenge, Mr Jackson, 34, is joined by former-mountaineer and army reservist Darren Edwards, 32 and biologist Dr Niall McCann, 41, who each had an accident which resulted in a spinal cord injury and various disabilities.

    “There’s no roadmap to follow for people with disabilities.

    “Everyone’s disability is different, and spinal cord injuries affect people in different ways, so we have to work out how best to progress and the only way to do that sometimes is to go and do it,” added the former rugby player.

    Mr Jackson and Mr McCann, who have walking difficulties and sensation loss in their lower limbs, will travel across the glacier by ski, while Mr Edwards will use sit ski, propelling himself along using poles.

    The group will travel without guidance or support and will be linked together by a single rope.

    “This is a completely new challenge for me,” explained Mr Jackson, who had never even used skis until their training.

    He added: “Between us we’ve kind of got one working body. But then we’ve also got one body that doesn’t work at all.

    “So (getting) across the ice caps is going to have to be very much a collaborative effort.”

    The team are raising funds for Millimetres 2 Mountains, a charity creating positive change for people facing mental health challenges after encountering adversity in their lives.

    Mr Jackson said adventure challenges were “more often than not, about the psychological side”.

    “Things are a lot more difficult, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a go and find a way round it, or over it, or through it,” he said.

    “Some of the things that I’ve done in the last few years, it proves to myself that a lot of it is willpower, and strength of mind rather than the physical ability.”

    The group start their challenge on 14 April.

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