Henry Worsley, a former British army officer, made the grueling expedition last year in support of the Endeavour Fund to aid wounded service members. The charity was founded in 2012 by the Royal Foundation, which is run by William, Harry and Princess Kate.
Worsley died last January at age 55 from “complete organ failure” after falling ill just 30 miles from the intended end of his solo trek across the Antarctic, which followed in the footsteps of legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.
In London on Tuesday, the Endeavour Fund held its inaugural awards ceremony, showcasing the excellence of wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans using sports and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.
In the presence of Worsley’s widow Joanna and two children, Max and Alicia, William said, “Tonight, as we look back on everything that has been achieved, we must remember that a lot of these successes have been supported by the funds raised through Henry’s herculean efforts.
“The best way that we can thank Henry, the best way we can honor his memory is to create a legacy. The award of a prize in his name is but a small part of this legacy, a gesture offered to show how much Henry meant to us. A much more significant and meaningful legacy can be fulfilled by you — the community for whom Henry sacrificed so much.”
Joanna told reporters at the event, “It means absolutely everything to us. I’ve been looking forward to tonight ever since they told us about the ceremony two weeks after Henry died. It’s really kept us going. The stories of these incredible men and women have really lifted my spirits. It’s very emotional. We’re scattering Henry’s ashes in South Georgia [an isolated British outpost long known as the gateway to the Antarctic] in November, close to Shackleton’s grave.”
In his own remarks, former Army captain Prince Harry told the guests gathered at the Royal Geographical Society that since it began five years ago, the Endeavour Fund has supported 39 different projects, directly assisting nearly 1,500 people on their recovery journeys and in turn, inspiring many thousands more.
“With support from the Endeavour Fund, they have joined teams, established strong support networks and discovered new passions,” Harry said.
“Using the power of sport, this community has helped themselves to carve out a new life, a new direction and a new definition of self-proving to themselves and everyone else that beyond injury, they can still achieve the extraordinary.”
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Worsley’s children helped William give the award in their father’s name to Neil Heritage, who became the first British soldier of the Iraq conflict to survive an above-the-knee double amputation after being attacked by a suicide bomber in 2004. Then 24, he was told he would never walk again, but he refused to accept that and following his rehabilitation has completed triathlons, learned to ski and rowed across the Atlantic Ocean unsupported in the inaugural Row2Recovery team. He also founded Climb 2 Recovery, encouraging other wounded, injured and sick service personnel to take part in Alpine climbing. In 2016 Neil attempted to summit the Matterhorn, and will return to have another go in 2017.
The Endeavour Fund Award for the individual who has best utilized their endeavor to promote their recovery went to Martin Pollock. He was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) resulting in the loss of both legs above the knee and the loss of his left arm above the elbow. After reaching his lowest point, he was given renewed excitement for life when he took part in Operation SURF, finding his calling riding the waves.
The Endeavour Fund Award for the individual who has worked to achieve excellence in their chosen sport or adventurous challenge was presented to Nerys Pearce. She served in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a medic for several years before she was paralyzed in a road traffic accident. Last year, Nerys was selected for the U.K. Armed Forces team at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, taking part in a range of sports from powerlifting to rowing and winning 10 medals.