Cotton Orchard’s Sian Nunn completes the journey of a lifetime

This April, Sian Nunn of Cotton Orchard successfully completed a 260km husky sled journey across the Arctic to raise more than £8,500 for Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice.

In our previous blog about Sian’s fundraising adventure, we heard that she wanted to complete this challenge to support her close friend Helen whose young daughter Elsie was cared for by Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice when she had leukaemia.

And so it was that, on Saturday 7th April 2018, Sian left Exeter for the Arctic. She and Helen were accompanied by Nicky from Noah’s Ark.

There were 10 people taking part in the challenge in addition to the team’s Arctic survival guide (a Norwegian ex-Navy Seal), the team leader and three workers who had the unenviable job of rounding up the huskies, clearing up dog poo, and providing support.

Each team member had their own sled pulled by a team of huskies. Sian’s first day was challenging because her sled was carrying 50kg of dog food in addition to her supplies, which was a struggle for just five dogs. Sian spent a lot of the day pushing the sled to help the husky team. The addition of a sixth husky for the rest of the week made life a lot easier!

As might be expected, an adventure of this kind comes with challenges. For Sian, it wasn’t the physical aspect of the trek, although she says perhaps she should have practiced scooting as sledding uses the same muscles!

Sian wasn’t even fazed by the -25 temperatures. As a mum to four boys, she’s a seasoned camper and came prepared for the weather. She smiled her way through putting up and taking down the frozen tents, digging snow holes and trenches, collecting and then boiling water on a primus stove, dritech food, frozen sandwiches and 14-hour days.

Her practical, unflappable attitude is probably why Helen dubbed Sian the ‘Bear Grylls’ of the group.

For Sian, the biggest challenge came when her husky-pulled sled hit a curve too fast, throwing her off and slamming her shoulder against the sled anchor. She needed painkillers for the rest of the trip having torn the acromioclavicular joint in her shoulder.

Sian says her lasting memory will be the sheer scale and beauty of the landscape. “There is white as far as the eye can see, and with 20-30ft between each sled, it felt like perfect solitude.

“A journey like that strips you down to the most basic of needs: food, shelter and warmth. Everything else just drops away. I saw something very few people will ever see first-hand.

“It gives you a confidence. You realise you can achieve anything. Everyone should do a trip like that at least once in their life if they can.”

Sian will have a display in the foyer of the Makit LQ&N Fair on Sunday 13th May so you can see pictures of her incredible trip. There will also be a donation bucket if you have any spare change that you would like to donate towards her fundraising total.