Friday 23 March 2018

'No words can describe the sadness' - David Beckham leads tributes to polar explorer Henry Worsley who died 30 miles from end of bid to cross Antarctic

David Beckham has joined those paying tribute to the polar explorer Henry Worsley
David Beckham has joined those paying tribute to the polar explorer Henry Worsley
File photo dated 26/01/12 of former Army officer Henry Worsley, 55
Former Army officer Henry Worsley, 55, from Fulham, London
Undated handout file photo issued by the Shackleton Foundation of former Army officer Henry Worsley, 55, from Fulham, London, who was on the brink of making Antarctic history with a solo crossing across the ice and who has been taken to hospital with a potentially fatal condition

David Beckham has joined those paying tribute to the polar explorer Henry Worsley who has died following an intrepid bid to cross the Antarctic.

Beckham, writing on Facebook, described his own memories of the adventurer - posting a photo of himself with Worsley.

"No words can describe the sadness of the loss of Henry Worsley... I was lucky enough to have met Henry on my way out to the Antarctic and I asked if I could use his Union Jack for a picture he kindly leant it to me but I could feel how special this was to him so I was so honoured that he had done this for me..," Beckham said.

"A man that has served our country for so many years and a man that talked about his family with so much pride... Our thoughts are with Henry's family at this time."

Fellow modern day adventurers Bear Grylls and Ben Fogle also shared their sadness at the news.

Grylls wrote: ''We are devastated by this loss. One of the strongest men & bravest soldiers I know. Praying for his special family'', while Fogle said: ''So sad to hear that Antarctic explorer Henry Worsley @shackletonsolo has passed away. An inspiration to us all.''

Explorer Henry Worsley dies of organ failure on solo crossing of Antarctic as he was only 30 miles from end of trek

Explorer Henry Worsley, who was on the brink of making Antarctic history with a solo crossing across the ice,  died, his family has announced.

The former Army officer, 55, from Fulham, London, was 71 days in to his attempt to become the first adventurer to cross the continent completely unsupported and unassisted when he had to call for help and was airlifted off the ice on Friday.

His wife Joanna said in a statement: "It is with heartbroken sadness I let you know that my husband, Henry Worsley, has died following complete organ failure; despite all efforts of ALE and medical staff at the Clinica Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile."

Battling temperatures of minus 44, tackling white-out blizzards and treacherous ice, the ex-lieutenant colonel had passed the South Pole - covering 913 miles and was a mere 30 miles from the finish.

After spending two days unable to move from his tent, the married father-of-two took the decision to pull out of the charity adventure after suffering from exhaustion and severe dehydration.

He was flown to a hospital in Punta Arenas where he was found to have bacterial peritonitis. He underwent surgery but died on Sunday in hospital.

Worsley was attempting to complete Sir Ernest Shackleton's unfinished journey to the South Pole.

He was trying to recreate the majority of the untravelled journey 100 years after Shackleton's hopes of becoming the first team to cross the Antarctic continent were crushed.

Shackleton's ship Endurance was trapped and sunk by pack ice in 1915, leaving his team stranded.

His wife Joanna paid tribute to her husband for reaching his goal of raising more than £100,000 to help wounded servicemen and women.

"Henry achieved his Shackleton Solo goals: of raising over £100,000 for the Endeavour Fund, to help his wounded colleagues, and so nearly completing the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic landmass," she said.

"A crossing made, under exceptionally difficult weather conditions, to mark the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition - his lifelong hero.

"On behalf of myself and family, I wish to thank the many hundreds of you who have shown unfailing support to Henry throughout his courageous final challenge and great generosity to the Endeavour Fund.

"Donations now total over £106,773."

The Duke of Cambridge, who was patron of the expedition, expressed his immense sadness at the explorer's death, saying he and Prince Harry had lost a friend.

He paid tribute to Henry Worsley's "selfless commitment" to his fellow servicemen and women, and pledged to make sure his family receive all they support they need.

The trek was raising money for the Endeavour Fund, a charity managed by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

William said in a statement: "Harry and I are very sad to hear of the loss of Henry Worsley. He was a man who showed great courage and determination and we are incredibly proud to be associated with him.

"Even after retiring from the Army, Henry continued to show selfless commitment to his fellow servicemen and women, by undertaking this extraordinary Shackleton solo expedition on their behalf.

"We have lost a friend, but he will remain a source of inspiration to us all, especially those who will benefit from his support to the Endeavour Fund.

"We will now make sure that his family receive the support they need at this terribly difficult time."

Peritonitis occurs when the thin layer of tissue lining of the abdomen becomes infected. Symptoms can include swelling of the abdomen, vomiting, chills, lack of appetite and a high temperature. Complications include sepsis and septic shock.

In his final statement sent from Antarctica, Lt Col Worsley described how his desire to help wounded soldiers with their rehabilitation was the central focus of his expedition.

"Having been a career soldier for 36 years and recently retired, it has been a way of giving back to those far less fortunate than me," he said.

He described his sadness at having to pull out so close to completing the challenge.

"The 71 days alone on the Antarctic with over 900 statute miles covered and a gradual grinding down of my physical endurance finally took its toll today, and it is with sadness that I report it is journey's end - so close to my goal," he added.

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