Tom Warburton from Bedford Help for Heroes Step to It. Image supplied by Help for Heroes

Tom had to postpone preparations to reach the South Pole unaided

Tom Warburton, 22, from Bedford was supposed to be in the final stages of his preparations for a world-record breaking attempt in November this year to be the youngest person to reach the South Pole unaided.

Unfortunately, this has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, as his epic challenge was going to raise funds for wounded and sick veterans.

Tom has taken on a new Help for Heroes’ 30-day fundraising challenge called Step 2 It – helping to launch it by becoming one of the first people to sign up to it and share his experiences.

Tom agreed to take part as he saw it as an easy way to raise funds to support wounded and sick veterans at a time when Help for Heroes is forecasting a 40% drop in predicted income as a result of the majority of fundraising events being postponed or cancelled because of COVID-19. He said:

“Whether in the Antarctic, at home or on operations, military people do remarkable things to keep us all safe – and if they are wounded or injured while serving it’s important to know that they will get the support they need.

“Help for Heroes does great work in helping veterans and their families – and Step 2 It is a simple way to help it get the funds it needs to keep doing this.

“For me, it’s been great to have a daily goal to keep up my fitness levels for when I can take on my South Pole challenge and it’s been easy to fit it into my daily life – stepping out before work, at lunchtime or in the evening.”

Sponsored 10,000 daily steps

Step 2 It asks participants to sign up and do 10,000 steps a day (or an alternative distance to suit them) for 30 days, starting on the day of their choice and getting sponsors to support their challenge.

However, being one for bigger than average challenges, Tom has been changing it up. At times dragging two tyres with him for thousands of steps to simulate what it would have been like pulling his sledge for his Polar trek. He has even run in his wellies which were given to him by one of his trek sponsors, Koolbox.

Tom is currently a Reservist in the Mercian Regiment and his interest in the Antarctic stems from the many military operations which drove Polar exploration, especially in the early days, when people like Captain Scott were doing extraordinary things.

David Martin, head of Supporter Fundraising at Help for Heroes, said:

“We are so grateful to Tom for taking on Step 2 It and spreading the word among others to sign up.

“We know from research that there’s been a big increase in veterans saying that they aren’t managing their mental and physical health so well since the start of the pandemic – so the need for support is greater than ever.

“By signing up, and showing us all how fun Step 2 It can be, Tom is really making a difference.”

Tom has been sharing his walks via social media to encourage others to sign up. You can follow him on Instagram at @tom_warbs.

With Tom’s help in spreading the word to others about the challenge, so far participants have taken 6,099,077 steps (16,322km).

The Step 2 It challenge is a precursor to a rather bigger challenge which Tom is planning to take on this December, depending on the impact of the pandemic.

Alongside Dan Mills (pictured with Tom below), former Infantry Soldier and bestselling author of Sniper One, Tom hopes to canoe the length of the Ganges.

Dan and Tom with flag Image supplied by Help for Heroes