is one of the worlds leading polar explorers and believes in the power of dreams and what can be achieved with belief and perseverance. She also believes that with courage, tenacity and encouragement anyone can achieve the extraordinary. She has broken through the boundaries of what is expected of women and mothers in particular, and entered the echelons of history making polar explorers, in her own right.
Ann’s expeditions to the North and South Poles have given her the opportunity to follow her own dreams and test herself physically and mentally to the utmost. It is a credit to her teamwork and leadership skills that she was not only part of the first all women’s expeditions to walk to both poles but also became the first British female North Pole guide, leading and guiding a team of eight multinational men successfully the last degree to the North Pole in 2001.
Among the numerous awards and honours bestowed upon Ann, she has received a Pride of Britain award, given the Freedom of Yeovil Town, received an honorary degree – Doctor of Laws and entered the Guinness Book of Records.
Ann is passionate about the environment we live in. In the Arctic she has witnessed the ice getting thinner, the pressure ridges becoming smaller and the areas of open water growing in number and size. It has been predicted that by the year 2050 the Arctic Ocean could be ice free during the summer months, which would have a huge impact on native wildlife such as the Polar Bear and the Arctic seal. Ann uses her expeditions to highlight the outstanding beauty of the Arctic and Antarctic and the precarious situation both regions now find themselves in.
Ann was born in Bradford in 1964, the youngest of five children and the only girl. She spent her childhood surrounded by older brothers with whom she shared a close relationship. Her earliest memories are of always climbing the highest trees, jumping across the widest rivers and being first to accept any childhood dare so that she would be allowed to play with them and not be left behind, a mere girl.
She attended St Mary’s School in Menston before beginning a career with Nat West Bank. Marrying young at the age of 21, she hoped to have her first child at the age of 23. This was not to be and after six years of fertility treatment, which included three major gynaecological operations, medication and a lot of heartache she finally had her precious triplets Lucy, Joseph and Rachel, on 23 March 1994, one of the most joyous moments in Ann’s life.
She left the bank and became a full time mum until quite by chance she was told that The Polar Travel Company were asking for ordinary women to apply for selection to become part of the first all female team to walk to the North Pole. Ann was no stranger to the challenges life has to offer and after intensive training was chosen to take part in the McVities Penguin Polar Relay. It is here that she fell in love with the icy wilderness of the Arctic, of living in such raw conditions and testing herself to the limits of human endurance. It was here that she began her career as a polar explorer.
After the break up of her marriage in 1997 she spent a short spell working for the M.o.D and in the year 2000 she and four other women organised and took part in the M&G I.S.A. Challenge, the first British all women’s expedition to walk to the South Pole. Not content with this she put together the M&G North Pole 2002 expedition, the first all women’s team to reach the North and South Pole on foot.
To Ann’s surprise and delight shortly after this successful expedition she became pregnant and on 23 April 2003 gave birth to baby Sarah with her partner Tom O’Connor.
In 2005 she attempted to become the first woman to solo to the North Pole. 21 days into the expedition Ann was unexpectedly removed from the ice, along with two other expeditions, when authorisations allowing her Air Logistics Company to fly in Russian territory were removed by the Russian authorities.
Despite this disappointing outcome, Ann is determined to return to the Arctic and complete the world record from Canada.
She now lives in Devon with her partner and four children, where she gives talks and is preparing for her next adventure.
SOLO NORTH POLE EXPEDITION 2005
In March 2005 Ann was on target to become the first woman in the world to ski solo to the pole from the Russian pack ice. Despite cripplingly low temperatures, encounters with five polar bears, one storm and very difficult ice conditions Ann battled through alone and completed over 124 nautical miles of the journey. Because of a dispute between her air logistics company and a competitor, the Russian authorities removed permission to fly over Russian waters and all expeditions on the ice were removed without notice, including Ann's. Although over eighteen months hard work and preparation had gone into this expedition Ann refuses to see it as wasted and is now more determined than ever that the world record will be hers and is planning to return for another attempt, leaving from Canada.
ARCTIC 1st All Women's Team to ski to North and South Pole.
2001-2002 - Ann put together and was the driving force behind the M & G North Pole expedition. Temperatures as low as -50 for the first 26 days severely hampered the expeditions progress and success looked doubtful. The team were hit by storms so severe that they were unable to put their tent up and huddled under tent material for 3 days, with little food or water. They suffered from severe frostbite, back problems and carbon monoxide poisoning from contaminated fuel. After 47 hazard filled days Pom Oliver left the expedition as a result of frostbite and wet gangrene, leaving Ann and Caroline over 300 miles to cover in 30 days. Although the pole looked impossible neither were willing to give up and skied for over 15 hours each day, with little sleep in between. There were many dramatic events along the journey, both fell into the ocean and had to swim across open expanses of water but their determination to succeed prevailed and on 1st June 2002 they stepped onto the pole. Against all odds they had become the first all women's team in the world to ski to both poles.
ANTARCTIC 1st British All Women's Team to ski to South Pole
1998-2000 - Without the aid of professional guides Ann and four other women planned, trained and put together an expedition to the South Pole. This included raising corporate sponsorship, choosing, testing and modifying all their equipment, deciding which route to take and publicising the event. Pulling sledges weighing over 140lbs and navigating by the sun they then travelled 700 miles across Antarctica, the most inhospitable continent in the world and in January 2000 became the first all British women's team to reach the South Pole on foot.
ARCTIC North Pole Relay
1995-1997 - Ann started her Polar career as part of the McVities Penguin Polar Relay team where 5 teams of 4 women, together with two guides skied in relay format across the Arctic Ocean to reach the North Pole in May 1997. Although the team was made up of total novices this innovative approach to Polar travel ensured the success of the expedition.