VIDEO: Polar expedition’s live link-up with Holywell Primary School

A FORMER naval officer who is losing his sight took time out from his bid to trek to the South Pole for a long distance chat with children in Huntingdonshire.

Alan Lock hopes to be the first visually-impaired explorer to reach the South Pole. The 31 year old, from London, suffers from macular degeneration, which has left him with no central vision.

Two weeks ago he set off with sighted companion, endurance athlete Richard Smith and ultra-runner Andrew Jensen, on a 600-mile expedition from the coast of Antarctica for international charity Sightsavers.

On Thursday, Mr Lock talked to pupils from Holywell Primary School via satellite phone about the trip so far, which has seen him battle temperatures of -45C while carrying a 60 kilo sled. And the Hunts Post was there to see how the conversation went.

All 168 pupils have signed a banner which the Polar Vision team intend to unveil at the South Pole.

Pupils asked the adventurers 12 questions, including ‘What do you do with your bodily waste?’ and ‘What type of food are you eating and do you like it?’

According to Mr Lock: “It is very important to us, and to every expedition that has been here, that all we leave are ski marks.

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“We take all our packaging and rubbish, and put it in a big plastic bag, we carry it all the way to the South Pole and back to Chile.

“It is very important to us because we want to keep it beautiful. We want you to see it as beautiful and pristine as we have seen it.”

As all three are burning 7000 calories a day in an effort to keep warm, he said they were eating regular helpings of chocolate and butter.

“You are always hungry, so food is the number one thing in your mind. Most of our food is basically food that is used in the military – you have to add water to eat it. It is not dissimilar to pot noodles.

“At the end of each trekking session, we have a break and we always look forward to eating some chocolate. We also have things like cheese, salami. We have started eating lots of butter.

“We are burning off so much energy, it is the only time in our lives, we can sit and eat lots of chocolate.”

The trio have already covered 230 miles, and expect to complete their journey next month. The one advantage of spending the festive season several thousand of miles away from home is that they are guaranteed a white Christmas, Mr Lock explained.

“We are going to build snowmen and we have even bought Santa hats,” he told pupils.

The live link-up was organised through Mr Smith’s sister Susanne and Holywell Primary School parent Steve Whiteside-Hall.

Mr Whiteside-Hall, whose two children Daisy and Ella attend the school, is a work colleague of Mr Lock’s at BT.

Deputy headteacher Claire MacDonald said the children were inspired to study polar expeditions as part of a school-wide theme on travel, after watching popular BBC documentary Frozen Planet at home.

As well as keeping track of the current expedition, pupils visited the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge to learn how the early explorers travelled.

“They have been so excited. They have learnt so much and it has been fantastic as they have been able to send messages to the Polar Vision team as well.”

For information about the Polar Vision expedition go to

Pictures and video: WWW.IMAGES-UK.COM