Shropshire Star

Shrewsbury school visited by first woman of colour to trek to the South Pole

The first woman of colour to trek to the South Pole has inspired Shropshire pupils in a talk about her epic expedition.

Captain Preet Chandi, with pupils, from left, Eleni Higgins, 18, Lucy Nichols, 14, Margaret Sun, 18, Bella Sussums-Lewis, 17, and headmistress Diane Browne

Captain Preet Chandi, a British Army physiotherapist and medical officer with 3 Medical Regiment, delivered a talk about her epic expedition and brought along her sled to show students at Adcote School for Girls, near Shrewsbury, on Monday.

Adcote School headmistress Diane Browne said: “What an inspirational story. Captain Preet Chandi was engaging and admirable in all that she told the students, who were all glued to their seats.

“Captain Chandi is an impressive role model to young students, delivering a powerful message."

Captain Preet Chandi, at Adcote School, Little Ness, Shrewsbury

Earlier this year, Captain Chandi, trekked 700 miles on skis to reach the South Pole in 40 days, seven hours and three minutes, pulling a 90kg sled, while battling temperatures of -50C and winds of 60mph.

She had planned to make the trip in 45 to 47 days, but pushed herself to finish five days ahead of schedule and narrowly missed out on breaking the record for a woman which stands at 38 days 23 hours and 55 minutes.

Now, nicknamed ‘Polar Preet’, Captain Chandi has planned a second expedition to the South Pole later this year, this time to become the first woman to complete a solo unsupported coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica.

It will be a tougher expedition of more than 1,000 miles and will take her around two months.

The 33-year-old told the students: “You can achieve anything regardless of your background, regardless of your starting point, if you’re prepared to put in a lot of hard work.

“I remember Googling Antarctic explorers and none of them looked like me. I was even told I didn’t look like an Antarctic explorer.

“Now when I Google Antarctic explorers, I see a picture of me."

During her South Pole expedition, from November 24 to January 3, Captain Chandi trekked for 13 hours a day, covering an average daily distance of 17 miles, and fuelled herself eating around 5,000 calories a day.

She spent two-and-half years physically preparing for the expedition, including crevasse training in the Alps and spending 27 days on the ice cap in Greenland.

The trek raised funds for charity, with half the proceeds going towards the launch of an adventure grant for women attempting unique challenges. The other half has gone to a humanitarian aid charity.

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