COVENTRY EXPLORER Mark Wood has paid tribute to close friend and fellow explorer Henry Worsley who tragically passed away on Sunday (January 24).
Henry was attempting to become the first man to complete a solo expedition across Antarctica unassisted.
The 55-year-old was just 30 miles from the completion of his epic journey when he was airlifted to Chile hospital before he passed away after being diagnosed with bacterial peritonitis.
Mark first met Henry when he arrived at the south pole in 2012 after his own personal solo attempt.
Mark told BBC programme Newsnight: “When I first met Henry he was full of smiles, fun and laughter – little did I know that he’d just completed his own expedition just minutes before I first met him.
“Henry was an extraordinary, strong-willed, powerful, man with a deep sense of humour.”
Henry attempted the expedition to mark the 100th anniversary of the failed Sir Ernest Shackleton journey.
Mark said: “I can see why Henry wanted to take on the expedition – not only for historical reasons but also personally.
“That’s why we explore, for personal reasons.
“The problem with great explorers like Henry is he has a real British determination about him to go that little bit further.
“If you’re travelling as a team you have different people to add their judgement – if it was a team approach the expedition would’ve stopped a little earlier I think.
“Henry has a tremendous drive and determination within him.
“I think he pushed himself as far as he could.”
Henry’s main focus of his expedition was to help wounded soldiers with their rehabilitation.
Over £100,000 has been raised by Henry for the Endeavour Fund – a charity which helps injured servicemen and women and is run by the Duke of Cambridge.
In an emotional final statement, Henry said: “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.
“It is with sadness that I report it is journey’s end – so close to my goal.”
Despite Henry’s death, Mark’s expedition to trek from the Russian Arctic Coast to the North Pole next month will still go ahead.
The expedition, sponsored by Jupiter Marketing Ltd, will see Mark join fellow explorers Mark Langridge and Paul Vicary.
Jupiter Marketing issued a statement that said: “We are shocked and extremely saddened by the news that Lt Col Henry Worsley, who was a patron of the Race Against Time expedition, has died tragically whilst crossing Antarctica.
“Both Mark Langridge and Paul Vicary, both served alongside Henry as part of the six-man team that successfully reached the South Pole in 2012 following Robert F. Scott’s route as part of the 100-year anniversary of the iconic explorer.
“Along with third member Mark Wood, the whole team is devastated, not only to lose someone who was a dear friend, but also because the world has lost a great explorer.
“All our thoughts go out to Henry’s family at this time.”