Former Norfolk schoolboy at North Pole

Surrounded by ice and on the look-out for peckish polar bears, a former Norfolk schoolboy arrived at the North Pole last week having completed the first stage of his two-part polar adventure.

Surrounded by ice and on the look-out for peckish polar bears, a former Norfolk schoolboy arrived at the North Pole last week having completed the first stage of his two-part polar adventure.

Jo Oliver, who spent his childhood in Ormesby, near Yarmouth, is now halfway through the challenge which will see him ski to both poles in one year and hopefully raise �100,000 for two charities which are close to his heart.

After setting out on April 10 from Camp Barneo - a point 60 miles from the North Pole - Mr Oliver had expected to arrive at his destination nine days later.

But having made excellent progress, dragging their 50kg sledges for up to 16 hours a day, the 40-year and his three team mates arrived at the pole on Tuesday April 14 - five days ahead of schedule.


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Like all good sons, the property developer, who moved oversees with his family at the age of six, rang his mum to tell her the good news - but she was not there.

Hilary Oliver, who now lives in Bacton, said: 'He did phone on Tuesday night, but I missed both the call on my mobile and my home phone. How frustrating. I though 'I don't believe this'.'

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Instead, the 61-year-old has contented herself with updates from her son's girlfriend and regular visits to websites chronicling his progress - although that has caused some concern.

She said: 'My son is a man of few words and he's very optimistic. But when I looked at the website of one of his team mates it talked about someone having frost bite.'

Discovering what the other trekkers were going through made Mrs Oliver all the more pleased to hear her son had completed the challenge. She said: 'I was very thrilled that they got there on Tuesday night - and safely.'

Mr Oliver has already raised more than �10,000 in sponsorship and hopes to raise a total of �100,000 for the Huntingdon's Disease Association and mental health charity Mind by the time he completes the two-part challenge.

Both causes have particular resonance with him after watching one member of his family struggle with mental illness and his father, Tim, diagnosed with Huntingdon's disease in 2003.

In December, Mr Oliver, who now lives in London, will tackle the second part of his challenge and ski to the South Pole - following in the footsteps of his childhood hero Scott of the Antarctic.

To sponsor Mr Oliver visit www.justgiving.com/2009polarchallenge or to find out more go to www.mypolarchallenge.co.uk.

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