City man heads to the North Pole to hit £100,000 target

12 Dec

On 19 April 2012, Geoff Major will battle temperatures of -35°C, polar bears and thin ice, on his hike to the North Pole to raise money for ten different charities across the UK.

Geoff Major’s training for the Polar Trek

The 50-year-old businessman is planning to embark on an 8-day ski-trek to the Top of the World while pulling his own 30kg sled of supplies.

He hopes to raise up to £100,000 for a string of worthwhile causes, as well as setting himself a once-in-a-lifetime personal challenge.

It all started back in December 2010, four weeks after he returned from a charity cycle across Cuba. Geoff was still eager for adventure so he did not hesitate to browse amongst the latest available challenges offered by City Challenge on its website. He ended up joining a 75-mile ski trek to the North Pole.

This ultimate survival challenge is the second extreme adventure which Mr. Major embarks on so far. In Cuba, he cycled a total of 220 miles in five days.

Since he set up his own company, Geoff has always donated to charities. However, he remembers how his ex-girlfriend’s determination was truly an inspiration to him.

“One day, an ex-girlfriend, who couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath, came home and said she was going to do the Three Peaks Challenge in three months time; and she did.

“I guess that stirred me to stop just writing cheques and start to experience real challenges.”

Mr. Major, founder of BlueDucks Limited, lives in Leeds with his partner Lucia and his two daughters (aged 17 and 20). Despite working as full-time business consultant for his very owned company, he currently defines himself as a “trainee North Pole adventurer”.

As soon as his place was secured within this adventure, he began an intense mental and physical training in order to be properly prepared to face the challenge.

Going to the gym almost on a daily basis is just the base of his preparation. He explained: “I have a Personal Trainer who puts me through strength and cardio routines once a week.

“Also, the organisers have given me a training timetable that states how far I should drag a car tyre, or tyres, every week using a special harness.”

Geoff plans to raise up to £100,000 to be donated to his favourite 10 charities across the UK. In order to do so, he has set up two different Virgin Money Giving fundraising web pages. One of them is dedicated to five different Yorkshire & Humberside-based charities whereas the other page is for UK national charities with local ties.

He chose Virgin’s on-line donations facility because “it takes only 2% of donations for administration costs whereas JustGiving take a 5%.”

There is a £50,000 equal share of donations expected to be raised via respective pages. However, offline contributions made either by cheque or directly donating to the charities are also very welcome by Geoff; as long as they refer to his Polar Trek.

Mr. Major’s aim is “to make a difference to lots of people”, and he added: “it was difficult to keep the number of charities down to 10.”

The five national charities chosen by him are: Samaritans, Macmillan Cancer Support, Help for Heroes (H4H), Multiple Sclerosis Society and Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

The local ones are: Yorkshire Cancer Research, Jane Tomlinson Appeal, Hearth Research, Candlelighters and Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

His choice of charities was influenced by personal experiences primarily. According to Geoff, “90% of ‘giving’ is done so when there is a personal tie to the disease.”

“I’m donating to MacMillan Cancer Support and Yorkshire Cancer Research because my father died a slow painful death from cancer last year” and adds: “he also had a heart attack at home, in-between hospital stays for cancer relief.”

Geoff expressed his gratitude to The Samaritans too: “One of my friends is still alive today thanks to them.”

According to Candlelighters company secretary, Sally Amos, Mr. Major has been a supporter of the charity for some years now. She said: “He first heard about us when a friend’s son was successfully treated here, at the Unit in Leeds, for Leukaemia.

“We were thrilled to have been chosen as one of the charities; it’s incredible.

“We are filled with admiration both for his bravery and level of dedication that it takes to achieve such an extreme challenge.”

Mr Major, has always felt specially close to those suffering from Muscular Dystrophy because his ex-wife is a carrier and so, his daughters may be carriers too.

Gary Kernahan, Head of Volunteer Fundraising at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: “We are delighted to be one of the charities that Geoff will be fundraising for through his North Pole Trek.

“It is only through the support of people like Geoff that the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is able to continue to fund vital research into treatments for muscle-wasting disease.”

Geoff, who is self-funding the entire cost of the trek (£26,000), admits the current economic situation is making it very hard to find people willing to donate for charities. His latest fundraising idea is to get companies to donate £50 to charity in exchange of taking their logos to the North Pole so that they use his adventure for marketing purposes. He said: “I’m hoping for a hundred companies at least and one of them will win the flag when I get back.”

Mr. Geoff’s greatest feelings when thinking of is challenge are ” pride, exhilaration of getting there and the joy of a hot shower when we’ve finished and got back to base camp.”

He added: “There aren’t many things in life that most people couldn’t do, but this is one of them. One of the last great adventures so I guess I’ll do this and then make up some new ones that I’ve never done before.

For more information on how to donate or to sponsor him, see www.northpoletrek.co.uk.

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