Hampshire Woman Races To The North Pole

Research scientist Leanne Franklin-Smith is facing the challenge of a lifetime as she sets off on her race to the North Pole in the 2010 Polar Challenge.

The 31 year-old from Romsey, is usually seen in the laboratory analysing fossil remains from all round the globe but over the next few days she's going to be racing 320 nautical miles to raise money for Help the Heroes.

"I've never even skied before," says Leanne. " For the past year I've been getting up every day at 5am to train before work I must be mad! The training has taken its toll - my food bills are massive, and I'm not even in the weight gaining phase yet! I've sustained a number of injuries through training, but it just spurs me on, it's nothing to what our military personnel are facing."

The hard work will all be worthwhile for Leanne if she succeeds in raising £10, 000 for Help for Heroes. Leanne has lots of friends within the military, and is in the process of joining the Army herself and retraining to be a medical doctor. The charity is very close to her heart.

"When friends or loved ones are injured in the line of duty it is a very difficult and confusing time for them and their families," Leanne explained. "Some people have no idea what sort of help or support is available." Help for Heroes has done so much for many of my friends, now it's time I did something for them."

Leanne is well know for her challenges to raise money for charity, usually due to the roping in of long suffering friends and family! She has received a lot of support from the local community already while she's been training for the Polar Challenge.

"My friends and colleagues have been very supportive; I hope other people in the town will sponsor me if they can. It will make a massive psycholigical difference to me out on the ice, knowing that there's money pledged to the charity for me to carry on through the cold and pain." said Leanne. "Even a few pounds will make a huge difference and mean Help for Heroes can continue their invaulable work supporting families during a horrific ordeal."