Brain surgery Scot aims to make South Pole history

Luke Robertson is pictured on a training expedition in Greenland. Picture: Contributed
Luke Robertson is pictured on a training expedition in Greenland. Picture: Contributed
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HE has battled heart problems and undergone brain surgery – but now he is embarking on his biggest challenge yet.

Luke Robertson, 30, is aiming to become the youngest person in history to carry out a solo expedition to the South Pole.

Luke following his brain operation.' Picture: Contributed

Luke following his brain operation.' Picture: Contributed

He would also be the first Scot to undertake the gruelling 730-mile trip completely 
unassisted and unsupported.

Luke plans to embark on the ambitious Due South feat in November – and hopes to raise £25,000 for Marie Curie.

The financial worker has already attracted support from high-profile adventurers including Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who has described it as “one of the most enduring challenges possible”.

Luke was spurred on after a series of personal health scares. Last year, he was rushed to hospital after a brain scan revealed a large mass, suspected to be cancerous.

It made me realise how lucky I was and how I could make the most of life

Luke Robertson

The cyst turned out to be benign, but he spent weeks in the neurology ward of the Western General alongside cancer patients.

The sports lover also had a pacemaker fitted when he was just 23, after he was diagnosed with complete heart block, when electrical pulses that control the heart rate are disrupted.

He said his experiences had given him perspective on life as well as the drive to push himself to the limit.

He wants to raise cash for Marie Curie, after losing his uncle Ron Thompson to cancer several years ago and seeing the support the charity gave to his aunt and wider family. A fundraising website he set up last week has already raised almost £2500.

The Broughton resident, who works at Franklin Templeton, said of his own cancer scare last year: “It made me realise how lucky I was and how I could make the most of life.”

Luke will travel to Antarctica at the beginning of November, before he embarks on the epic journey, skiing while dragging 100 kilograms of equipment across ice. He faces losing a quarter of his own body weight – as the challenge will burn 10,000 calories a day.

He will brave temperatures of minus 50C and 100mph winds during the challenge, which he hopes to complete in 35 days.

He has carried out training expeditions in Greenland and Norway, and has spent sessions in a “cold chamber” at Glasgow University.

“Effectively it’s a massive fridge, with a treadmill, to set myself up for walking in Antartica,” said Luke, who is originally from Stonehaven.

He has also been competing in endurance events to prepare, and he said he was delighted to have Sir Ranulph as patron of his challenge, as well as backing from cyclist Mark Beaumont and wildlife presenter Gordon Buchanan.

Sir Ranulph said: “The challenge that Luke has set out to accomplish is admirable in a number of ways. Not only is he aiming to inspire others to achieve their own goals in life and also to raise funds for Marie Curie, but he does so after overcoming significant health challenges in his own, relatively young life.”

Supporters can track Luke’s progress by following him at www.duesouth2015.com.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com