Non-skiers prepare to brave Arctic challenge

Keen walkers Roger and Jane Hyde are heading to the Arctic Circle for the challenge of a lifetime.

Roger and Jane Hyde finishing Walk the Walks Three Land Challenge in Iceland last year
Roger and Jane Hyde finishing Walk the Walks Three Land Challenge in Iceland last year

Despite being non-skiers, the Easebourne couple will be tackling a marathon on Nordic skis across the snow-covered landscape of Swedish Lapland.

Roger, 59, works as a chauffeur for Lord Cowdray but in his leisure time, he is more likely to be out walking than sitting down.

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He said: “Having done several treks on the Great Wall of China, the Inca Trail Peru and, last year, the Himalayas in Nepal, we have decided to challenge ourselves even further, as we have had only six ski lessons and have never skied before, while helping a worthy cause.

“We have funded the trip ourselves but have to raise funds for the charity through sponsors, quiz nights and other fundraising events.

“The challenge consists of us being taken by snowmobile 26.2 miles into the Arctic Circle from the town of Kiruna, then for us to cross country ski back to the town over two days, with one night staying in huts

“While there, we have one night at the Aurora Sky Station, where we hope to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights, and at the end of the challenge, we stay at the famous Icehotel.”

He and wife Jane, 54, of Dodsley Lane, are big walkers, which will help. They have had six lessons on a dry slope, so they know how to stop and how to turn on skis.

Roger said: “Our paces are the same, so neither one of us is waiting for the other. Out there walking, it’s an opportunity to natter about everything.

“We started doing treks because Jane has a problem with her back, so while she can do it, she wanted to do it. China was on her bucket list and it started from there.”

Now their children, Lawrence and Ashleigh, are grown up, they are free to spend their holidays together and are making the most of their spare time.

They regularly rise at 5.30am and take a seven-mile walk to start the day. Walking helps Jane, who has to wear a back brace, as it keeps her mobile.

Their first fundraising effort was for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity they chose because a friend had died from the disease.

Then one of Jane’s friends had breast cancer and they wanted to do something for a breast cancer charity.

Roger said: “There are some really big breast cancer charities but when we looked into where the money went, we decided we wanted to help a very small charity instead.

“Jane had done the MoonWalk and helped at the head office and Walk the Walk really is a one-woman band.”

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