Sean relishing Norway challenge as part of 65 Degrees North latest missionPublished Tuesday, 7th March 2023
Sean Gane is quite literally a man on a mission. Having been thrown a number of challenges throughout his military career and private life, the former British army rifleman is relishing a new quest - a traverse of the iconic Hardangervidda in Norway with 65 Degrees North.
The 140-km skiing expedition over six days is the latest mission organised by 65DN as the organisation continue to create a series of challenging, adventurous activities for carefully selected members of the WIS (wounded, injured and sick) service personnel.
This expedition is unique for 65DN, as it is the first time it involves representatives from all three of the services - Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.
Sean, 54, is one of six beneficiaries on this 65DN experience and he is clearly relishing the challenge, even though he has had no skiing experience.
“I’ve never skied in my life. I have done snow and ice expeditions and I have used snow shoes.
“But my lack of experience with skis is not the biggest challenge - the stress of getting through the airport on the way to Norway will be one of my main hurdles. But once I get outdoors and onto the ice, it will be fine.
“I’m not concerned about the skiing because we have some of the best people around us in George (Matthews) and Billy (Baxter). They know what they are talking about and give you confidence.”
Sean, who lives in the Forest of Dean, fully admits the prospect of going on the mission has put a spring in his step after a difficult time mentally and physically.
He went on a number of tours of Afghanistan during a 12-year military career before being medically discharged in 2014.
That was after being diagnosed with complex ptsd following injuries sustained in IED explosions.
“It was while being on Herrick 10 in Sangin - one of the most challenging tours when we lost five guys in one day in an IED explosion.
“I suffered right shoulder nerve damage and my lower back is ruptured due to being blown into a wall by the IED. I also suffered hearing damage and have undergone three heart procedures.
“As well as that I also suffer from joint problems brought on by gout due to a problem with alcohol.”
But despite those challenges over the past few years he is now fully focused on the Hardangervidda mission.
“I’m looking forward to it if only to wind up the Royal Marines on the mission!” He joked.
“But seriously, what I have missed is that something to train for - once I left the army I struggled to get motivated and get out of bed in the morning.
“This has given me a purpose and having the opportunity to focus on something with like-minded people. Just having a physical and psychological challenge has seen me go from a humdrum life to being upbeat.
“It has not helped that my partner of 13 years recently left me - She had been my safe place and rock, and there is no hard feelings between us.
“But this challenge has come at the right time and it has meant I am not sat around moping and I have a purpose to train for.”
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).