Each year the Ulysses Trust seeks to encourage aspiration by presenting an award to the best expedition to which it has provided support, amongst the Volunteer Reserve, University OTCs, and Cadets. It seems that every year the competition gets stronger, with some exceptional expeditions taking place which are truly inspirational. This year is no exception, and without further ado the winners of the best expeditions of 2014 are…
Best Reserve Expedition – Ex Northern Aoraki Serpent – HQ 2 Medical Brigade (with participants from 12 AMS Reserve Units). The 24-strong team, led by WO1 Ashcroft, comprising 15 Reservists and 9 Regulars, undertook an ambitious programme in the New Zealand Alps between 2nd and 23rd August 2014. It followed a selection and training expedition to the French Alps, as a number were relative novices. Conditions were often trying, well described in the Expedition Report produced by Private (now Corporal) Sara Palmer: “Once the day was over and the chance for reflection on the tour was provided, it soon became apparent how much we had achieved and how much we had grown through these challenging experiences.” WO1 Ashcroft should be congratulated on an ambitious, well-planned and executed expedition which brought credit to the AMS Reserves, and clear benefit to the participants.
Best UOTC Expedition – Ex Blue Patrouilles des Glaciers – Oxford UOTC. The objective of this project was to compete in the Patrouiles des Glaciers – a demanding and challenging ski-mountaineering competition for three-member rope parties. The Team, comprising Captain Tania Noakes and Officer Cadets Rozzi Martin and Debbie Morgan (see picture) became the first all-female Army team and first OTC team to succeed in what is regarded as one of the toughest team events in the world. They completed the course, which runs from Zermatt to Verbier and comprises 52km and a 4000-meter positive altitude difference, in 14 hours 21 minutes. In her compelling report, Rozzi Martin wrote: ”The opportunity to be able to be part of this world renowned event was a real honour. Debbie and I are massively indebted to Tania … her belief in us has given us the confidence to believe that anything is possible!” The team and Oxford University OTC thoroughly deserve the best OTC expedition award for a demanding, well planned and executed project which concluded with a notable and well-deserved success.
Best Cadet Expedition – In The Footsteps of Lawrence – 2427 (Biggin Hill) Sqn ATC. This imaginative and unusual expedition was the brain child of Flt Lt James Dyer, who led a team of 25, comprising 18 cadets (10 under 16) accompanied by 7 reservist and civilian instructors, to retrace the journey of Lawrence of Arabia through South Jordan. The programme included 2 days desert survival training and a 6-day trek, but also comprised the production of a short film of their experiences and discoveries, and studying extracts from Seven Pillars of Wisdom which they were able to connect to their journey of over 100kms in temperatures up to 42°C. The report stated “The cadets learnt a lot about themselves, expeditioning, experience of a developing world country and the Bedouin culture, and the ability to survive in such a hostile environment.” This expedition reflects the opportunities available to cadets led by committed staff at their very best who are a credit to the ATC, and well deserve the Best Cadet Expedition award for an outstanding project.