This December, fundraiser Josh Braid is aiming to climb Antarctica's highest mountain and then ski to the South Pole - all while pulling a rocking horse.
The fundraiser will support two charities, including Kidscape. We spoke to Josh about his upcoming adventure.
What inspired you to take on the challenge to climb Mount Vinson and ski to the South Pole in support of Kidscape?
The inspiration for going to Antarctica was my Norwegian Great Uncle. When I went to his house as a boy, I saw photos of his own trip to the South Pole, and it captured my imagination. I would have wanted to do a longer expedition from sea to Pole, but as I have a young family, I couldn’t be away for over 2 months, so I decided that climbing the highest mountain and then doing something different by skiing to the South Pole would hopefully capture others' imagination and maybe inspire them. I wanted to support a small anti-bullying charity, and after researching, I felt Kidscape was the perfect charity to support.
Can you share some of the personal experiences that motivated you to choose Kidscape as one of the beneficiaries of your fundraising efforts?
As I was physically bullied at school, I have spent close to 20 years trying to forget and not talk about my experiences. Speaking to a good friend during Covid made me start opening up about it because up until then, I had felt embarrassed to talk about it. I am now starting to realise just how big a deal that part of my life was and the impact it has had up until recently. At the time of being bullied, I wish I had had a charity to speak to and get support as I was really struggling. I had planned on running away from school to get away from the physical bullying I would receive on a daily basis, and I realise now how close I came to letting the dark thoughts cloud my judgement.
Antarctica is known for its extreme and unforgiving conditions. How are you preparing both physically and mentally for this demanding expedition?
I am certainly preparing for the physical challenge of pulling a tyre on the South Downs, running, and training at high altitude at a special gym in London (altitude Training Centre). In terms of mental preparation, I have plenty of experience at home with 1 year old twins who certainly limit how much sleep I get, but I am also running through key skills for climbing and skiing to make sure I am as prepared as I can be!
Beyond the physical challenges, what do you anticipate will be the most significant mental or emotional hurdles you'll face during this journey?
The biggest emotional hurdle will be being away from my family. I have four children and an incredible wife, so saying goodbye for five weeks will be hard over Christmas. I have been training for this challenge for over three years, and I have learnt a lot about how I react to different scenarios, so hopefully, this training will help me deal with any mental challenges along the way.
What message do you hope to convey to young people who may be suffering from bullying, and how do you intend to use your journey as a source of inspiration and support for them?
I think it is really important, especially with social media, that young people suffering from bullying have a safe place to talk to an adult about what they are going through. I hope that my experience of being bullied and the expedition will show young people there is a light at the end of the tunnel and they can get through it with the support that is available today. So hopefully, it will inspire others to plan their own adventure whether this is music, art, sport, or another passion, to focus on this to get them through tough times.
What advice would you give to others who are inspired by your journey and want to make a positive impact in their communities through their own adventures?
Just go for it, if I listened to all those who said you are crazy or it's too difficult to do the expedition, then I wouldn’t be here. You must be resilient to focus on your goals, and then you will be successful. I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity, and I just hope that this expedition will lead to others fulfilling their potential!
Is there anything else you would like to share with your supporters or potential donors about this journey, the cause, or your own personal motivations?
Without support from good friends, my faith, and my focus on adventure, I would probably not be here today. I just hope that if we can all open up about our experiences, it will allow those struggling to feel like they can also open up and hopefully, that will save them. We are all on our own journeys, but talking about it, having a charity like Kidscape there to support vulnerable children will hopefully result in building up the next generation to be okay to speak out about bullying and not be embarrassed about it.