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Sunday, 5 July

Searle Searcher - Pioneer Crosses Antarctic With FM Co Help

Wendy Searle reaches the South Pole
Searle in training
On the trek

RSK, a UK-based environmental and engineering consultancy, has helped a pioneering woman achieve her goal of trekking to the South Pole - and raising awareness of the environmental vulnerability of Antarctica.

Wendy Searle has now returned to the UK following her gruelling 42-day adventure - solo, unsupported and unassisted. This is a feat only accomplished by six other women before her.

In addition to raising awareness of the environmental vulnerability of Antarctica, the expedition also secured valuable funds for The Youth Adventure Trust and ABF The Soldiers' Charity – representatives from both charities were there to welcome Searle when she landed at Heathrow.




Searle secured support from a number of sponsors in order to fund the expedition. She fostered relationships with companies working toward extensive corporate social responsibility objectives and possessing a shared sensitivity for ecological best practice. This included RSK. The consultancy shares Searle aim of raising awareness of the environmental vulnerability of Antarctica.

“We’re keenly aware of the importance of protecting Antarctica the world’s last existing great wilderness and a continent twice the size of Australia," said RSK founder Sue Sljivic. "Our company’s ethos is very much to support women in scientific exploration.”


Back to work


Searle is clearly quite a master of work-life balance! She is not a professional polar explorer or endurance athlete – her day-to-day life back in the UK involves working fulltime as a key member of the Communications department at the Ministry of Defence, alongside raising her children. Searle made it to the Pole on Wednesday January 8; flew back to Heathrow for a well-earned weekend break; and then the mother of four was back at her desk on Monday morning.


Mobile working


Determined to prove that the expedition would not be detrimental to her career, Searle continued to progress key projects by conducting meetings over Skype whilst completing her final preparations in Punta Arenas, Chile – just days before she set off on her Antarctic mission.


Carbon offset trip


Searle told reporters at Heathrow: “It’s vital that we study the Antarctic and educate people about why this is such an important part of the Earth’s environment, which means the current prohibition on mining in Antarctica must stay in place.

"I understand what an enormous privilege it will be to go to this special place – I’ve used carbon offset to ensure my journey has minimal impact.”


Transferable skills in sustainability development and beyond


Searle learnt plenty of valuable skills whilst planning her expedition – a benefit that was certainly not lost on her employers. To achieve something of this scale shows exceptional determination and ingenuity, as well as demonstrating a high level of skill in project management, commercial awareness and effective communication – key qualities which can be harnessed in the workplace to drive organisational success. Not to mention the vast array of environmental and sustainability considerations that had to be taken into account – something that should be at the forefront of whole host of facilities decisions.


Employer support


Searle was fortunate that her superiors supported a goal that many would find unfathomable – enabling her to train for and execute her mission with the added confidence of workplace backing and consideration. Encouraging your employees to achieve personal goals can work wonders for team morale and forms an intrinsic part of workplace wellbeing – but these goals don’t have to be quite as ambitious as Searle's to be effective!




Since even moderate exercise is renowned for boosting mood, training for and completing a physical goal could be key in enhancing mental wellbeing. And the achievement of one individual can have a wonderful knock-on effect on your wider team – Searle’s colleagues followed her expedition keenly, frequently sending messages of support to spur her on – proving that an ‘ordinary person’ can achieve something quite out of the ordinary.

Searle has inspired many to set their own challenges and work on personal fitness goals. She said: “I’m just an ordinary person, I’m 42, I have four children and I trained for this trip while working fulltime as a civil servant. Until five years ago, when I started providing logistical support to polar missions, I’d never considering crossing Antarctica - and I didn’t even know how to ski. I’ve never been to Antarctica before. The closest I’ve come to this challenge is skiing 563km across the Greenland ice sheet last year. Really, if I can do this, anybody can.”


What can you do?


There are many inventive ways you can support individuals within your organisation. Look at the resources available within your building and team – or budget permitting, consider investing in new equipment, inspirational speakers or workshops to enable and motivate your workforce.

Could it be worth raising the profile of your onsite gym or even investing in desk treadmills to support employees to improve their personal fitness?

To find out more about desk treadmills - Click Here


Pictures: Wendy Searle in training and at the end of her trek and below (fourth from left), welcomed back by representatives of The Youth Adventure Trust and ABF The Soldiers' Charity.



Expedition Statistics

Wendy Searle has become the 7th solo, unsupported female ever to ski from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, completing it in the 4th fastest time. She suffered no cold weather injuries on her adventure.

42 days, 16hrs, 23mins – official expedition time.

4th fastest solo unsupported female.

7th Female ever to complete Hercules Inlet to South Pole, solo & unsupported.

0 resupplies.

0 rest days taken.

0 cold weather injuries.

2 teeth broken.

720 miles skied.

473 – Hours skied.

12kg in bodyweight lost.

258,000 calories consumed.

0 penguins seen.

46 days without a shower.

Upon reaching the South Pole, Searle was elated and said: “I haven’t broken the speed record but I feel like I’ve won an Olympic gold medal and the lottery all rolled into one. It’s been the most momentous journey and an absolute rollercoaster of emotion.” 

Article written by Daisy Miceli


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