Georgie ready for 65 Degrees North’s Hardangervidda challenge

Published Wednesday, 1st March 2023
Georgie smith sit skiing

Georgie Smith is one of the six beneficiaries who will embark on 65 Degrees North’s expedition heading to the Norwegian mountains and attempt to ski across the iconic Hardangervidda plateau from Finse to Rjukan - a 140km mission over six days.

It is the latest in 65 Degrees’ iconic missions as they continue to create a series of challenging, adventurous activities for carefully selected members of the WIS (wounded, injured and sick) service personnel.

This is a unique expedition for 65DN, as for the first time, it involves representatives from all three of the services - Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.

Georgie, a sergeant in the RAF, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2015, a condition that affected the brain and the spinal cord.

For the past eight years, Georgie has shown her resilience in continuing her 24-year career in the RAF and excelling at her chosen sport despite being diagnosed with MS. The diagnosis came as a shock as Georgie had been unaware how much the condition was affecting her body. 

Georgie, 43, said: “It was only when a colleague said to me you’re dragging your left leg that I knew anything was wrong. I went to the med centre to be checked out and was taken straight to A&E in my uniform. I was there for five days and was told I had MS.

“The MS means I have a left-sided weakness in my legs, which is more prevalent if I’m not looking after myself.”

The condition varies from person to person, and for Georgie she finds she gets fatigued easily, can when tired get heavy legs and has trouble controlling her body’s temperature.

Her day-to-day role is in RAF recruitment management as well as, one day a week, involved with the Defence disability forum CANDID Network (Chronic Conditions and Disability in Defence).

Georgie is very active and takes part in tournaments for indoor rowing and powerlifting. She was also selected to compete and was the first female captain of the Department of Defence Warrior Games in 2019 for Team UK where she competed in shooting, indoor rowing, powerlifting, athletics and sitting volleyball. She brought home two silvers and four bronze medals.

“Sport helps me, and I believe others, to adapt to their diagnoses,” Georgie said.

“My motto is: it’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can do.”

The group set out on their mission on Friday March 17 and and are expected to complete the challenge on March 22.

The Team will consists of: Georgie Smith, Ruth Lanckham, Craig Skinner, Lee Spencer, Sean Gane and Ray Evans, with the Support Team including: George Matthews (Team Leader), Billy Baxter, Ross Matthews, Ben Clark (Team Doctor)

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