Inspiring Others Millies 2017 header

Millies 2017: Inspiring Others

The team of British Army reservists became the first British and the first military team to complete a full, unsupported traverse of the...

Inspiring Others Millies 2017 header

The winner of the Military Awards 2017 'Inspiring Others' category are SPEAR 17, a team of British Army reservists who completed a coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica this year.

It is a journey few people have survived - more people have walked on the moon than crossed the freezing desert.

When presenting the award, Penny Lancaster said:

"What the guys have done is truly incredible, and what I love is they never credit themselves, it is always the team."

Upon completing their 1,100-mile expedition, the team of British Army reservists became the first British and the first military team to complete a full, unsupported traverse of the freezing desert continent.

Millies 2017: Inspiring Others

The expedition was led by Army regular, Captain Lou Rudd, who selected his five teammates from around 100 applicants.

The idea was thought up in 2014, with the original goal of the mission to reach the South Pole, and raise money for charity in the process.

Captain Rudd told Forces News:

"To finally be there, stood on the ice with the guys, it was like, 'right, this is it. This is what I've been striving for for two and a half years'."

However, ten months before they were due to begin their expedition, the team were given an added motivation to their cause, when a close friend of Captain Rudd's, SAS officer Lieutenant Colonel Henry Worsley, died following his own Antarctic mission.

"He was attempting a solo, unsupported complete crossing of Antarctica, and sadly lost his life during that attempt.

"I consulted with the team, and decided at that point we'd like to change the aims of our expedition and attempt the route that Henry was doing."

As a result, SPEAR 17 added an extra leg on to their journey so they could finish what Henry did not.


They reached the South Pole on Christmas Day, and it was at this point when the team lost Alun George, who was advised to end his journey on medical advice.

They still had an important job to do during their remaining time on the continent - honour Henry Worsley.

They climbed a peak overlooking route he took and built a temporary memorial in the form of a rock cairn.

A journey across one of the world's most hostile environments came with its dangers, including temperatures that dropped as low as -53 degrees Celsius.

SPEAR 17 frostbite
Frostbite was an inevitable symptom of their mission, with some of SPEAR 17 suffering more than others.

"It is a harsh environment - the harshest place on the planet.

"You've got the mental battle of skiing for ten hours a day, everyday, for three months.

"The risk of cravasses, we were always concerned about falling into cravasses."

SPEAR 17 snow bath
They had to be careful in the extreme conditions, most of the time.

SPEAR 17 completed their mammoth journey in 66 days.

In the process, they raised money for charity, awareness of the Army Reserve -  and honoured one of Lou’s closest friends.