There are a lot of people in this world who inspire me. Members of my wonderful family - past and present - and many of my great friends - old and new - who inspire me all the time with their words and actions. There are also plenty of more famous people who are a constant source of inspiration to myself. Individuals such as Captain Matthew Webb, Paul Newman, Johnny Cash, Sir David Attenborough, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Eric Cantona, Aung San Suu Kyi and Charles Darwin to name but a few. The people who inspire me the most are normally driven and single minded. They often have a huge heart and a strong sense of justice and decency. It also helps if they lead an adventurous life and maybe most importantly, that they do/did things their own way.
That's probably because those are the qualities that I've always aspired towards having myself. I always like things to be fair - unfortunately they rarely are - and although I have a terrible lazy streak, I at least attempt to be dedicated and hardworking. I’ve also always dreamt of being something of an adventurer. Of climbing Mount Everest, trekking to the South Pole, setting foot upon the moon and of course (my longest and biggest dream) to swim the English Channel. But unfortunately for me and fortunately for my mother’s nerves, I spend way more time dreaming and talking about these potential adventures, than actually getting out of the house, stepping away from the norm and going on an adventure myself.
That said, I am currently attempting to travel more (AroundTheWorldIn80Mugs) and I’ve had a couple of fun adventures in recent years. Like when I hitchhiked from Walthamstow to Wales and when I took a show up to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. But all in all, on the scale of how adventurous I currently am, I'd have to admit that I’m probably a lot closer to 1 than I am to 10. Somebody who was a solid 10 however, was the explorer Henry Worsley.
A solo adventurer who had previously completed the two classic routes to the South Pole, Henry Worsley was in the news recently. He had been attempting to make the first ever solo crossing of Antarctica. However, quite tragically, when he was just 30 miles away from completing his unbelievable 900 mile journey, Henry was forced to abandon his quest and was airlifted to safety. Suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and bacterial peritonitis, Henry sadly passed away at a hospital in Punta Aenas, Chile last week (Sunday 24th Jan 2016).
I met Henry once. That's not me claiming to have known him. I didn't. I simply once happened to sit around a table with a group of people including Henry and his wife Joanna. I don’t remember too much about the meal – it was several years ago now – but what I do remember was that despite previous knowledge of his explorations, if not quite a full acknowledgment of his wondrous achievements, I don’t believe that the topic of his adventures ever came up. He certainly wasn't the kind of person to blow their own trumpet.
It is always very sad when someone is taken before his or her time. Especially when they are as inspirational as Henry clearly was. His latest adventure has currently raised over £200,000 for charity (doubling in the days since his death). Many people will no doubt feel his loss but no more so than his family and so my thoughts are of course with his wife and two children at this extremely upsetting time. I can’t and don’t want to imagine what they must be going through. But I hope that they know what an inspiration their husband and father was and will continue to be for people all around the world.