Explorer is an inspiration to Leyland school pupils

Alan Sylvester with pupils at Wellfield

Alan Sylvester with pupils at Wellfield

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An Antarctic explorer inspired pupils at a Leyland high school with his dramatic tale of adventure in the face of adversity.

Former RAF officer Alan Sylvester told pupils at Wellfield High School how he lost both his thumbs while leading an expedition to the South Pole .

Alan, who worked with the RAF for more than 30 years, talked about the challenges he faced when the expedition turned bad.

He lost both thumbs to frostbite, a team member suffered septicaemia, and the challenge failed agonisingly short just five days from the goal.

Alan said: “Following my injuries during the trek I battled depression. I really thought it spelt the end of being able to pursue my goals.”

He added: “With the support of those closest to me I was able to battle back, visiting Everest base camp a few years ago and completing a 39 day walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats this year.

“With these talks I want to motivate the pupils, and highlight how they can do whatever they want do if they put their minds to it.”

Assistant headteacher, Diane Blakeley, has been friends with Alan for 28 years through their shared connection with local mountain rescue services.

Having witnessed Alan’s heroics she invited him in to school to talk to students.

She said: “At Wellfield we work to inspire our students and encourage them to pursue whatever goals they have.

“Sometimes, however, it’s better for them to hear it from an outside source,”

Diane added; “Knowing Alan, and having visited him during his amazing walk to John O’Groats, I thought he was a perfect candidate to demonstrate how believing in your goal means nothing can hold you back.”

After his talk Alan was invited on to present the prizes at the Yewland’s Drive school’s GCSE award ceremony.