Pole can wait – it’s my mum’s 104th birthday
A POLAR explorer returned to the dale ahead of his next major expedition – to wish his mum a happy 104th birthday.
Robert Swan, who was the first man to walk to the North and South poles, jetted into the UK from San Francisco, in America, for just one day last week to see his mum Margaret.
She turned 104 on Thursday, October 24.
Next month Mr Swan will once again head south to complete a 35-year dream of crossing the Antarctic.
He said: “I thought I had to come and see mum before I go to the South Pole.
“It is an important thing for me to be here, at home. I have started every big journey from here.”
Pointing to the river which passes by his mum’s home, in Wycliffe, he added: “The river goes to the ocean and the ocean goes to the Antarctic, so I always feel connected to here.
“When things are really rough out there I think of here and mum.”
As the world has changed dramatically in the 104 years of Mrs Swan’s life, so too has much changed since her son’s first march to the South Pole more than three decades ago.
He said: “Thirty years ago when I walked to the South Pole, after I left here and said goodbye to mum, no-one knew where I was for a year.
“Now, which is great, I will be able to leave her messages with a satellite phone. That is a big change.”
The expedition holds another significance for the explorer as it will be the completion of a walk to the pole that he began with his son Barnaby last year. His journey ended abruptly half way through, although his son was able to go on and complete the trek.
Mr Swan said: “After 300 of the 600 miles my hip disintegrated. Now I have a brand-new hip.”
Mr Swan’s journey will also promote his 2041 Foundation which aims to highlight that a treaty which preserves the Antarctic lapses in 2041 and something must be done to continue to protect the frozen landscape.
He attributes his determination to protect the natural environment to the influence of his mum.
He said: “Ma has always been my inspiration as a young boy.
“Mum recycled before there were recycling bins and it became popular.”
Mrs Swan, who still has keen eyesight and reads the birthday cards sent to her without the help of glasses, attributed her longevity to always looking for the “joy in life and not the negative”, and to the closeness of her family.
The mother of seven said: “We have always been a very strong family. We always enjoy being together and we love to laugh.”
Mr Swan flew back to San Francisco on Friday, October 25, to complete final preparations for his epic journey to the South Pole.
People can follow his progress on the website www.2041foundation.org.