THE founder of a family owned Redditch firm will be undertaking the challenge of a lifetime in order to raise £100,000 for charity.

Steve Bennett, from The Genuine Gemstone Company, will be walking, skiing and sledging the distance between the 89th latitude (The Last Degree) and the North Pole - a total of 60 miles in just 10 days from April 1 to 10.

Mr Bennett will take his first icy step as he lands at Longyearbyen on the Archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle on March 29 for acclimatisation and training before flying to Camp Barneo, an ice drift base normally situated about 60 miles from the North Pole.

He will be joined by just three other people, Jake Thompson, a fellow team member at the gemstone company, former Marine Commander Alan Chambers and retired GP, Dr Phil Heywood - together they will form the only British team to attempt the challenge this year.

During the challenge, temperatures in the North Pole will get as low as -50 degrees centigrade and the team will be burning 9,000 calories a day.

Setting up camp on the ice every night is anticipated to take three hours, as will the breakfast routine every morning, before embarking on the gruelling trek itself.

And as well as the immense pressures of the challenge itself, the team will face serious danger from polar bears, exhaustion, freezing temperatures and thinning ice.

Behind the challenge is Mr Bennett's mission to raise £100,000 for two separate charities, the Colourful Life Foundation and National Osteoporosis Society.

Speaking about the challenge, he said: “I have to be honest, the prospect of this challenge is very daunting. I know it’s going to be incredibly tough, but at the end of the day I’m not just doing it for myself.

"I’m doing it for two great causes that I believe passionately in which will hopefully be my motivator during my darkest moments.”

For more information about the challenge or to donate, visit