World’s first unsupported crossing of the Greenland ice cap by an amputee

Denali – The Team

Brendan Davies

Brendan joined the Royal Marines at the age of 19. After successfully completing 30 weeks training he then served at 40 Commando where he was deployed on operational duties in Northern Ireland and The Adriatic. Other deployments included desert training in Oman and arctic warfare training in Norway.

Whilst serving in the Royal Marines Brendan suffered serious spinal injuries which resulted in hospitalisation and a lengthy period of rehabilitation. Following his discharge he suffered with periods of depression and anxiety having left a job he loved. These were his dark times and this was to shape his next few years where he was forced to seek help and treatment

Brendan has a passion for the outdoors and spends much of his spare time on the Brecon Beacons. Since leaving the Royal Marines he has worked for the local authority and is a proud dad of two sons.

Brendan successfully summited Mt. Aconcagua in January 2018 with the team of 65 Degrees North. This brutal and demanding endeavour removed Brendan completely from his comfort zone and pushed him to his absolute limits, increasing his confidence and self-belief that he can achieve whatever he sets his mind to.

Al Hewett

Al joined the Royal Marines in 1998 and passed for duty in 2000 after 18 months in training, having broken both legs during the Commando tests and suffering the loss of his father to cancer, which he admits was a very difficult time for him. It took years to fully rehabilitate his leg but Al continued to serve and has completed almost 20 years of service, inclusive of six operational deployments to Afghanistan within a multitude of command roles both within the Royal Marines and Special Forces Support Group, and further deployments to Iraq and Northern Ireland.  

Al deployed to Afghanistan in 2006/2007 for Operation Herrick 5 which was a particularly tough tour where he lost many of his friends, and it was for actions during this deployment that saw him awarded the Military Cross. In 2010, during Operation Herrick 12, Al was injured in an IED blast suffering permanent hearing loss and fragmentation injuries. In 2016 he was knocked off his bike whilst cycling to work which left him traumatised and Al continues to work on his recovery. Having left school with no formal qualifications, whilst serving he has gained 10 GCSE’s, 4 A levels, a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree in leadership and management amongst numerous sporting and adventure training qualifications. He is currently the Unit Logistics Officer at CTCRM.

Al has been a long term fan of 65DN and has supported Rich from the Greenland Expedition to date. He was one of the 5-strong team that climbed Mt. Aconcagua in January 2018.

Sean Gane

Sean first joined the army in 1986, but left due to a training injury. After some years moving around different jobs, he rejoined in 2002 to what was then the RGBW, later becoming the Rifles.

In 2003 Sean went on his first operational tour to Afghanistan where he had to deal with IDF and suicide bombers. In 2009 Sean deployed to Helmand, Afghanistan, a tour which left both a physical and psychological mark him. Being an infantryman and medic he was involved in a large number of incidents. Sean was in close proximity to a blast when several Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) exploded and he sustained damage to his hearing, neck, shoulder and back. Sean was clinically diagnosed with PTSD and medically discharged from the army in 2014.

Following his discharge Sean struggled to come to terms with his life, but with the support from family and friends he attended The Warrior Programme in 2011 which gave him the confidence to get involved in an ex-forces scuba diving charity, and then the Endeavour Fund, which pushed him both mentally and physically. Following this last expedition Sean was nominated for the ‘Henry Worsley Award’, which he was very honoured to win.  

He is looking forward to joining the team of 65 Degrees North and pushing his limits even further.  

 
Scott Ransley

Scott, from West Yorkshire, joined the Royal Marines in 2008. After passing out he then went to 42 Commando where he deployed on several training packages such as mountain training and an America training package.
Scott also completed a LRR course whilst he was at 42 Commando.

In 2011 Scott deployed to Afghanistan with Lima Company 42 on Operation Herrick 14.
Whilst on tour Scott was involved in an IED blast which left him blind in his right eye. He was medically discharged in 2013.

In 2015 Scott successfully completed the Walk of Britain with Walking With The Wounded (WWTW), a 1000 mile walk through Scotland, England and Wales in 72 days. He successfully summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, the World’s highest freestanding mountain, in February 2016 with the team of 65 Degrees North. Scott continues to challenge himself and wants to show others that despite injuries, physical or psychological, it is possible to achieve great things.

Joe Winch

Joe was commissioned into the Royal Marines in 2002 and has deployed, and commanded, on multiple operations and deployments. He gained two Masters degrees, an academic fellowship from Kings College London, was selected to be a First Sea Lords Fellow, and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 2017. 

With a successful career and a young family, Joe felt he had achieved everything he had ever wanted, yet within just a few months his world catastrophically fell apart as he was struck down by acute Complex PTSD – a consequence of many and repeated traumas experienced over a decade. From commanding over a 100 Royal Marines on operations and administering a multi-million pound activity budget, Joe suddenly found himself unable to get out of bed, make it through breakfast, or live independently. Currently, he is in the care of the Naval Service Recovery Centre Hasler, and together with the support of his family he is very gradually battling back against his symptoms. 

Joe is determined to use his recovery pathway to both improve awareness of Complex PTSD, and the support given to those with mental health injuries. 

Jonnie Miller

Jonnie joined the Royal Marines in 2008 and worked as a Reconnaissance Operator with 42 Commando. He deployed to Afghanistan on Herrick 14 and on exercises to the US, through the Med to the Middle East and Bahrain. He completed his CWWC in Norway and then went on to complete training as a RM Combat Intelligence Analyst. 

During his deployment to Afghanistan Jonnie witnessed a number of IED strikes and treated friends in multiple incidents. It wasn’t until 5 years later that he realised he was struggling with some aspects of his life which had a significant impact on relationships, self-esteem, concentration, his ability to focus on his job and emotional stability. After accepting he needed support Jonnie was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety having been exposed to multiple traumatic incidents whilst in Afghanistan. A period of treatment regained some stability, not without significant changes, and he continues to see a counsellor once a fortnight to help him normalise and transition into civilian life.

Jonnie enjoys a variety of sports and outdoor activities and now works as a freelance outdoor activities instructor and expedition leader. He is looking forward to being part of a team again, and highlighting the impact invisible disability can have, and how he has overcome challenges since diagnosis.

 
John Barry

John is an ex-Royal Marine Captain and former Commanding Officer of the Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre. He is a highly experienced mountaineer who has led expeditions in all of the seven continents and can claim first ascents in five of them.  Everest, Vinson, Denali, K2, Eiger North Face and a host of other well-known mountains all feature on his CV.

In 1978 John was appointed Director of The National Mountaineering Centre, Plas y Brenin, in North Wales – a post he held for seven years. He has written extensively about mountaineering and is the author of six books on the subject. He has been advisor to, and originator of, a number of TV documentaries.

John joined 65 Degrees North as its high mountain advisor in 2016. He trained the teams in preparation for the successful summit attempts to Mt. Vinson in January 2017 and Mt. Aconcagua in January 2018. John is delighted to join the team on this expedition and is proof that age is not a barrier.

 
Richard Morgan

Rich is a former Royal Marine Commando, who served at 40 Commando amongst other units, he deployed and was trained in Arctic and desert warfare and survival. He led Heroes Challenge UK; a UK endurance record that set a British first; an endurance record completed over 10 days. He went on to lead the five-week expedition that saw Peter Bowker become the ‘First Amputee’ to cross the Greenland ice cap unsupported!

He has since led an expedition to summit Mount Kilimanjaro which achieved a full team summit success and, in January 2017, he stood on the summit of the ‘Top of the Bottom of the World’ when he led an unsupported team to climb Mt Vinson, Antarctica’s highest peak. He has led training packages on the Mont Blanc Massif in preparation for Antarctica and Aconcagua with the 65DN support team.

Rich successfully summited Mt. Aconcagua in January 2018 and more recently he was awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his charitable services to veterans.