William McNamara's South Pole Expedition

Bluestone's CEO William McNamara took on the challenge of a lifetime in 2012 when he completed a seven-day trek across the South Pole to raise awareness and funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust. An expedition that also commemorated 100 years since Sir Scott’s ill-fated attempt to reach the South Pole.

Here you can find out more about the incredible journey and achievement.


South Pole Charity Trek

While most of us were relaxing after a busy Christmas in January 2012, our CEO William McNamara wasn't one of them. Instead, he was on his way to Antarctica, to attempt one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges on the planet - a seven-day trek to the South Pole.

Never one to take the easy route, William upped the stakes by attempting the journey exactly 100 years after Sir Scott’s own failed expedition and aimed to arrive at the South Pole within days of the 17th January, the date the explorer had reached it before he died on the return journey.


A Continent Of Extremes

Explaining why he chose to take on such a challenge, William spoke beforehand about his motivation, the conditions he expected to face, and what it meant to him to be walking in Scott’s footsteps.

“I have been fascinated by Antarctica for many years. It is a continent of superlatives, the largest, the highest, the coldest, the driest on the planet. It is also the least known and the least visited continent on earth. The route we intend to follow has been trodden by only some 500 human beings in the history of mankind. Scott’s epic expedition which sadly leads to his death and those of his team members on the return journey was undoubtedly a remarkable feat of endurance and heroism. The centenary of that trip has Welsh connections as well as being of national interest.

”My proposed trek is nothing like the journey that he and his colleagues undertook in terms of distance, but the conditions will be the same. We will have the distinct advantage of modern clothing and equipment and the ability to be transported to Antarctica and within Antarctica by air. The centenary of Scott’s journey should be acknowledged by Great Britain, I intend to be part of that acknowledgment.”

A Once in a Lifetime Challenge

The challenge was set: Trek 100 kilometers to the South Pole hauling a sled loaded with personal provisions including a tent, clothing, stove, and fuel. January is the Antarctic summer with 24-hour daylight and very cold and dry atmospheric conditions, to give him a chance to acclimatise to the harsh conditions, William arrived over a week before he was due to set off with just a guide for company.


A Year In The Making

This isn’t the kind of journey you make on a whim, and William underwent rigorous training for a year before the trip. All funds raised by the expedition went directly to the Teenage Cancer Trust, and while this was an important element, William also saw it as a personal challenge.

Speaking at the time, William said, “From a personal perspective I am very lucky at 55 years of age to be fit, healthy and capable of undertaking such a journey: coping with the extremes of weather and having the mental fortitude and physical endurance to undertake the challenge, so this expedition for me is a celebration of that fact. I am fully aware that most people are not as lucky as I am in that respect.

"Health is something we take for granted until it either erodes or is snatched away from us. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness such as cancer in your formative years is something that most of us would never have to endure, but sadly some do and I will genuinely reflect on this during the expedition.”

While it might have been a challenge only 500 people had completed, failing was never an option.

“Because I wanted to raise a lot of money for the Teenage Cancer Trust and increase amongst other things the awareness of Bluestone, this sponsored walk was a high profile one from the word go. I have already done many radio and TV interviews before leaving the UK and was conscious that if I didn’t complete this challenge I would have to come back with my tail between my legs and face the consequences.”


A Unique Adventure

William set off from the UK on New Year’s Day and spent the next three weeks reaching the glacier before embarking on his mammoth task. Just as planned, they commemorated Scott’s first journey, at the official South Pole station where more than 150 people work on scientific and environmental projects.

You can find out more about William’s trek and donate to Teenage Cancer Trust by visiting www.90degreessouth.co.uk.


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