Ed Jackson and his team crossing the Vatnajokull Glacier

A former rugby player with severe spinal injuries is set to cross Western Europe’s largest ice cap.

Ed Jackson, who was the unsung hero of BBC West in 2021, will join two others to become the first fully disabled team to cross Iceland’s Vatnajökull glacier.

They hope to raise between £155,000 and £1,000 for every kilometer of their journey.

The former Bath and England player said: “Normally I would say I’m just excited.

After an accident in 2017, Mr Jackson, who lives near Bath, was told by doctors he may never walk again.

But he defied his doctors’ predictions by taking on several challenges, including reaching the summit of Snowdon the year after his accident and climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest by walking up and down his parents’ stairs during the pandemic .

And in 2021 he scaled 12 of Britain’s highest peaks in six days.

“Finding that purpose again and challenging myself has been a big part of my own recovery,” said Mr. Jackson.

For his next challenge, Mr. Jackson, 34, will be joined by former mountaineer and Army reservist Darren Edwards, 32, and biologist Dr. Niall McCann, 41, who both had accidents that resulted in spinal cord injuries and various disabilities.

“There is no road map for people with disabilities.

“Every disability is different and spinal cord injuries affect people in different ways so we have to figure out how best to move forward and sometimes the only way to do that is to do it,” added the former rugby player.

Mr. Jackson and Mr. McCann, who suffer from walking difficulties and loss of sensation in their lower limbs, will cross the glacier on skis, while Mr. Edwards will use sit skis and poles to get around.

The group travels without guidance or assistance and is connected by a single rope.

“It’s a whole new challenge for me,” said Mr. Jackson, who had never skied before starting his apprenticeship.

He added: “Between us we kind of have a functioning body. But then we also have a body that doesn’t function at all.

“So crossing the ice caps has to be a community effort.”

The team raises funds for Millimeters 2 Mountains, a charity that creates positive change for people who are dealing with mental health issues after adversity in their lives.

Mr Jackson said adventure challenges are “mostly from the psychological side”.

“Things are a lot harder, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try and find a way around, over or through it,” he said.

“Some of the things I’ve done over the last few years prove to me that a lot of it is willpower and mental strength and not physical ability.”

The group will start their challenge on April 14th.

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