Recovering from injuries – both physical and mental – and building a new life outside the military is a tough challenge for former servicemen and women.
65 Degrees North (65DN) believes adventure can play a vital role in rehabilitation by forging bonds through shared adversity and attaining new skills. By promoting the spirit of adventure to overcome disability, the aims to inspire and motivate others to succeed.
65DN has the support of the Endeavour Fund set up by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Its latest adventure saw 65DN tackling Denali, at 20,310ft (6,190m) the highest peak in North America, recognised as one of the greatest physical challenges in the world.
The team carried essential safety and communications equipment supplied by Inmarsat: a rugged IsatPhone 2 satellite phone, an IsatHub iSavi terminal to use with their own smart devices, and an ultra-portable Explorer 510 BGAN terminal.
With always-on connectivity they had the reassurance of knowing they could call for help in an emergency or seek medical assistance. Fortunately this was not needed, but the team was able to stay in close contact with 65DN HQ in the UK, send photos, video and updates for their social media platforms, and even take part in live media interviews from the slopes.
Expedition leader Richard Morgan is a former Royal Marine Commando who is trained in both desert and cold weather combat and survival. He saw for himself how taking on an extreme challenge can aid rehabilitation when he helped former soldier Peter Bowker achieve his ambition to become the world’s first amputee to cross the Greenland ice cap unsupported. In 2018 Rich was awarded an MBE for his charitable services to veterans.
Brendan Davies joined the Royal Marines at the age of 19. He served at 40 Commando where he was deployed on operational duties in Northern Ireland and the Adriatic before suffering serious spinal injuries. Following his discharge he suffered with periods of depression and anxiety having left a job he loved. Brendan successfully summited Mt Aconcagua in Argentina with 65DN in January 2018.
Scott Ransley joined the Royal Marines in 2008, going on to 42 Commando. He was left blind in one eye following an IED blast and was medically discharged in 2013. In 2015 Scott successfully completed the 1,000 mile Walk of Britain with Walking With The Wounded (WWTW). With 65DN, he successfully summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2016.
When Lieutenant Colonel Joe Winch was struck down with acute Complex PTSD – a consequence of many and repeated traumas experienced over a decade – he suddenly went from commanding over 100 Royal Marines on operations and administering a multi-million pound budget to being unable to get out of bed. Currently, he is in the care of the Naval Service Recovery Centre Hasler, and with the support of his family is very gradually battling back.
Jonnie Miller joined the Royal Marines in 2008 and worked as a Reconnaissance Operator with 42 Commando. He was exposed to multiple traumatic incidents in Afghanistan but it wasn’t until five years later that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety and got help. Jonnie now works as a freelance outdoor activities instructor and expedition leader.