I recently became the first woman of colour to complete a solo expedition in Antarctica. It was incredible seeing all of the Media when I got back to the UK on 14 Jan. On most mainstream Media channels, I saw a lot of comments questioning why the colour of my skin was even mentioned. I saw comments such as “Why does it matter” and “We’re all equal”
To me, equality never meant we’re all the same or ignoring our differences. After all, nobody seemed to have an issue with me being described as British or an Army Officer. Are these not also differences? To me, equality is about embracing our differences. I’m proud of the colour of my skin, it is important to me, as is my culture and my heritage.
I haven’t always been proud and it’s so important to me that I’m finally here. I want others to be proud of their differences. We are all unique. I had the voices of authors from different backgrounds with me in Antarctica and I felt so proud having them with me. They got me through some tough days. I thought to myself I’m not alone.
Some of my audio books: The Good Immigrant (UK and US version) Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman Brown Baby – Nikesh Shukla The Corner Shop – Babita Sharma The Right Sort of Girl – Anita Rani It’s Not About the Burqa – Mariam Khan I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling
It was absolute privilege having your voices with me.
I’m already making a list of audio books I want to take on my next adventure.
I have been talking at schools all over the UK over the last six weeks and have reached approximately over 5000 students and young people so far. Each week has been spent in a different region and consisted of day and evening talks. I have been travelling to schools in Northern Ireland, the South East, Bristol, Scotland and East Midlands.
One of the best comments I recieved was ‘I really enjoyed your talk because you can tell you want to be here.. and you’re not just here because your company made you come.’
I love doing the talks and reaching so many young people. I’m also tired, it has been pretty non stop since I have been back and I’ve been finding it difficult to keep up.
I’m not committing to many more talks this year and I feel a bit of relief in writing that. It’s ok to say no and that is what I’ve been doing a lot more. I know I have a lot of emails and messages that I haven’t read or responded to. I’m just trying to focus on one thing at a time and that is currently doing the school talks until May and then I’ll be back in my full time role as a physiotherapist 🙂
I want to clarify that I LOVE talking to young people. I want to inspire the next generation and I’m continuing with my current commitments.
We can care so much about what others think, that we often put that above what we want and need. When we do something different, something new, there are generally always objections. Loud objections. What is seen now as success, was looked down on. We often lack the ability or the willingness to see that their objections are just a hump that must be gotten over.
So many people are really proud of me now and that is honestly incredible. From my community, for the 2.5 years I was training, there were the naysayers, the people that showed no interest and those that didn’t really understand what I was doing. Those from the community who genuinely supported and encouraged me were few. The most important thing is that you believe in yourself. The one person’s belief in me that really mattered, was my own, and thankfully that remained regardless of the naysayers.
I really hope that when the next person says their ambition out loud (which could be anything they want), that the same community can encourage them to push their boundaries. Let’s continue to learn and encourage others not keep them inside any box or lane.
Let’s get over all of those humps together 🙌🏾
Inspired by a chapter from a book called Courage is Calling. Thanks Jag Chandi
What an incredible homecoming event. Thank you so much to Mitie for hosting the event. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to seeing my face and videos of me on big screens!
I have been asked how it feels to be in the media and to be honest, it all still feels a bit surreal. But I’m also glad it has come at this time in my life. My confidence has grown through this journey and I feel more comfortable in who I am. I want to be as honest and real as possible about how I got to Antarctcia. I found it tough to get to that start line but it is achievable. It is so easy to look at the end result, I made it to the South Pole but the journey to get there is important to remember.
I had this idea over 2.5 years ago, I didn’t know anything about the polar world at the time. I wanted to do something that would push my boundaries and hopefully inspire others to do the same. I used all my leave for training trips, my life savings, with some training trips taking me over 6 months to pay back in installments. I would email 10-15 companies in the evenings after work trying to get sponsors. Most wouldn’t respond and when they did, they couldn’t commit due to COVID. I felt overwhelmed at times while trying to train, being a COVID vaccinator, completing my MSc, looking for sponsors and trying to buy my first house. I remember just sometimes sitting in my partner’s kitchen and I just wanted to cry because it was just too much.
But I persisted. My first big sponsor came on board 10 months before the expedition. I can’t even explain how much this meant to me. I had unpaid leave approved at the same time. I felt as though I was getting closer. About six months before the expedition, I had the opportunity to do it through the Army and I’m very grateful for that.
I used everything I had to get there, I was well into my credit card when I left for Antarctica and have just paid it off since being back 🙌🏾
It was hard work but when I had tough times during the expedition, I reminded myself of how much it took to get to the start line. This helped me. If I worked so hard to get here, I could get through the tough days and make it to the South Pole.
It’s incredible to have all the support and the following on social media too. I don’t think I’ll ever manage to respond to all of the messages and comments.. I will be as honest and real as I can about my experiences. I’m continuing to learn, grow and will continue to push my boundaries.
It is so good to be home. I had such an amazing welcome at the airport. We had a slight delay so I was pretty much running out of the terminal to make it in time for the live interview. I think everybody had to wait for over an hour for me so thank you!
It is the simple things that you miss while on an expedition.. sitting on a toilet seat, sleeping in a bed, having a coke zero (it had to be added to the list…). I spent the weekend sleeping a lot, seeing family and eating. It’s nice to sleep when it’s dark (I had an incredible 24hrs of daylight in Antarctica).
I have honestly never had so many messages and emails and I’m just starting to make my way through them. It’s heartwarming to see all the comments on the posts when I was on the ice and I want to thank everyone for their support. I learnt a lot from the expedition and the 2 and a half years it took me to get to the start line. I’m still learning how capable I am and I hope I can help so many more people realise how capable they are too.
Preet has just made history becoming the first woman of colour to complete a solo expedition in Antartica. She completed the 700 miles in only 40 days.
Hello everyone, checking in from day 40. I made it to the South Pole where its snowing. Feeling so many emotions right now. I knew nothing about the polar world three years ago and it feels so surreal to finally be here. It was tough getting here and I want to thank everybody for their support.
This expedition was always about so much more than me. I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and to believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labelled a rebel. I have been told no on many occasions and told to “just do the normal thing”, but we create our own normal. You are capable of anything you want. No-matter where you are from or where your start line is, everybody starts somewhere. I dont want to just break the glass ceiling, I want to smash it into a million pieces.
Hi everyone. Apologies for not doing my audio blog over the last few days. It has been a long few days but I’m doing well and I’m super close now as well. So, the weather can change so quickly here, it was so cold yesterday, I think about minus 45 degrees with wind chill and then in the afternoon there was hardly any wind at all which was amazing.
It definitely feels colder in the last degree where I’m at higher altitude. I haven’t seen anyone here in the last degree and now I’m 15 nautical miles from the south pole. I cant believe I’m almost there.
This blog goes out to some of my friends. My friends are basically like family to me. I call them when I’m travelling. I have a room at each of their houses. I know their families and they are people that I know will always be in my life. I read somewhere that when you ask people to be your bridesmaids its nice to do it in a special way, so all the way from Antarctica I would love nothing more than for you to be my bridesmaids. Sonia Chandi, Rachel Tucker-Norton, Kamal Dhamrait, Tig Bridge, Hannah Sawford (or Hannah Smith now) and Collette Davey. I love you all and would love you to be my bridesmaids. I think at least three hen do’s are required. That’s normal right? But even if its not normal that’s never been anything to stop me.
That’s all for tonight. I’ll check in tomorrow. Bye.
Hi everyone, I made it to the last degree. So I’m on the final 60 nautical miles which is a big milestone. I might even see other people soon as there are a few last degree expeditions going on. I had a long day, just under 20 hours. Its 24 hour daylight but it suddenly gets a lot colder when there’s cloud cover or a whiteout which is what I had for a few hours.
This post goes out to Hannah McKeand (@hannahmckeand), Devon McDermitt (@mcddevo) and Denise Martin. The first polar course I did was Hannah’s Polar Expedition Training course (@polarexpeditiontraining) in Norway in Finse in Feb 2020 and it gave me a fantastic baseline, I learned a lot from the course and some really great instructors. So thankyou very much. I’ve learned from some really amazing people which has really helped me while I’m out here.
Ok, wish me luck for the last degree. That’s all for tonight.
Hi everyone, its getting colder now and I can definitely feel it. The Sastrugi’s a lot lighter now which is great. As of tomorrow I’ve decided *coughing* . . . every time I speak I start coughing and obviously I’m not speaking much which is why you always hear me coughing on the phone. So, as of tomorrow I’ve decided I’m going to pretend as though I’ve just started, I’m fresh, and I’ve got around 5 or so days to go. Just a different way of breaking it up and I’ve done 5 day events and races and things before so no problem at all.
This blog goes out to a few companies who have been so helpful over the last few months and gone out of their way to help me with my kit and preparation. Thank you so much to Jon at The Piste Office (@thepisteoffice), everyone working at Needles in Derby City Centre and Nigel from Prestige Embroidery. Nigel tells me he has no social media so if you know him, please make sure he listens to this blog, thank you very much!
Feeling much better than yesterday and had a well needed sleep. Visibility was good today too which is always nice. Overall I’m doing ok. Im tired but each day I’m getting closer to the south pole and I’m also getting closer to having a coke zero which I’m very excited about.
This blog goes out to Pete Swaile (@peteswaile) who has been helping me with my specific strength training for the last few months. I just want to say thank you so much Pete, I definitely felt stronger and definitely been a huge help out here as well.