Record-breaking Polar Explorer, Ann Daniels, continues to support our BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Ann continues to be part of our BRIT Ambassador family to support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK. A record-breaking polar explorer and a renowned international speaker, Ann Daniels is the first woman in history, along with expedition teammate Caroline Hamilton, to reach the North and South Poles as part of all women teams.
Ann looks forward to encouraging and supporting students at the University of Exeter and the University of Bradford as they take on the BRIT Challenge. She also hopes her fellow explorers and adventurers will join our BRIT Ambassador family so that we can encourage universities and colleges throughout the UK to take on the annual BRIT Challenge, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion.
"Through my polar experiences, close relationships with universities and being a Mum of four, I understand the mental health challenges faced by young adults and students. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of our lives, however I am mindful that it has impacted on many young adults with existing mental health conditions. It is vital that organisations work closely together to ensure they receive timely support to avoid long-term mental health difficulties.
BRIT’s vision is to collaborate and unite the Education, Sport and Charity sectors to support and improve the mental health and fitness of millions of students and young adults throughout the UK. Through their annual BRIT Challenge, they are inviting every UK university, college, specialist college and Students’ Union to enter teams and encourage students and staff of all abilities to participate, have fun and raise vital funds for charity. I’m delighted to see that BRIT’s feelgood February fundraiser is inviting teams to choose a second charity to raise funds for, alongside BRIT, to support local, regional and national charities.
I look forward to encouraging and supporting students at the University of Exeter and the University of Bradford as they take on the BRIT Challenge; I also hope my fellow explorers and adventurers will join our BRIT Ambassador family so that we can encourage universities and colleges throughout the UK to take on the annual BRIT Challenge, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion”.
Record-breaking Polar Explorer
Ann is a great believer in living life to the full and taking opportunities as they appear. Not letting the fear of failure stop her having a go, with no previous outdoor experience and as a mother of 18 month old triplets, Lucy, Joseph and Rachel, she beat off fierce competition from over 200 other women on a tough Dartmoor selection weekend and was chosen to join the first team, of the McVities Penguin Polar Relay. A unique relay expedition of women sledge hauling to the North Pole. The first team of four women with two guides were tasked with crossing the toughest sections of ice, in the coldest weather, to give this record breaking expedition the best possible start. This unique expedition was the start of a number of world record breaking expeditions that would see Ann rise in the field of Polar Exploration. Ann has completed 14 incredible expeditions.
Fired up by her experiences in temperatures cold enough to freeze skin instantly, Ann and four colleagues from the relay went on to organise and accomplish a 700 mile expedition across Antarctica, the windiest, highest and bleakest continent on earth to become The First British All Women’s team to ski to the South Pole. She became the first British female North Pole guide leading men and women in the most extreme environments on the planet and, whilst guiding one such North Pole expedition, had the dream to make the whole journey to the North Pole from land. A feat only completed by a few expeditions and never by an all women’s team. Ann invited Caroline Hamilton and Pom Oliver to join her on a return expedition to the North Pole. This time there would be no relay: the trio would cover the entire distance on their own. The three women set off as the sun rose in the Arctic in 2002, and the conditions at the outset were worse than Ann had ever experienced before. With temperatures between -40ºC and -53ºC for the first 27 days, heavy sledges and huge pressure ridges, the women were living on the edge of existence. They suffered 3 storms, carbon monoxide poisoning and ice cracking under the tent as they slept. Every day the team had to find solutions for every obstacle they came across and take care of each other as well as stay focused and positive on the end goal. Working together they kept going even when chances of them succeeding looked impossible. Sadly, on day 47, Pom Oliver had to leave the expedition on the resupply plane, with frostbite and wet gangrene, leaving Ann and Caroline Hamilton to complete the excruciating journey together. Pom became their motivation to succeed and they constantly drove forward, overcoming everything the arctic had to throw at them, swimming through open water when necessary and always doing that little bit more before stopping for a break or ending their day. Finally their resilience and perseverance paid off and they reached the Geographic North Pole June 1st 2002, achieving the World Record as the first women’s team to ski to both poles. A record that has never been repeated. Meeting a new partner, Tom, and having a fourth child, Sarah, didn’t stop Ann’s desire to explore the Polar regions. In 2009, Ann was asked by Pen Hadow to be his head of ice operations for the ground-breaking Catlin Arctic Survey. This project completed a unique environmental study of the rapidly disappearing frozen Arctic Ocean. Ann was responsible for leading the team on the ice and finding a safe route, making difficult decisions in the most extreme environment on Earth for 74 consecutive days. In 2010 and 2011 she also led the second and third Catlin Arctic survey, the only person to be invited to partake in all 3 expeditions. Ann continued to lead expeditions and in 2017, joined Bernice Notenboom’s expedition, with Martin Hartley, to ski the last 2 degrees to the North Pole working with NASA, The European Space Agency and other scientific bodies, inserting ice tracker beacons and measuring the snow depth en route to help scientists understand this unique part of the world. Whilst guiding a film crew in 2018, Ann continued this work with NOAA and the University of Washington and plans to return in the coming years to continue this important task.
Ann is now a renowned international speaker.
Organisations across Europe, North America and Asia have been inspired by Ann’s dynamic presentations. Ann is a Guinness world record-holding polar explorer and an accomplished guide. She leads men and women in the toughest environment on the planet and understands that how you behave as a leader affects the whole team. A good leader empowers their team to achieve more. She believes that with the right planning, attitude and a positive focus, people can achieve what they set out to do even in the most difficult circumstances.
By sharing memorable experiences from her polar expeditions, Ann takes the audience on a parallel journey through their own challenges in a tough and changing world:
“The difficulties people encounter at work are similar to the problems we face on expeditions, be it impossible targets, constant obstacles, a changing environment or morale within a team”.