Muscular dystrophy sufferer sets off for South Pole

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The Independent Online

A British man who suffers from muscular dystrophy will tomorrow resume his attempt to become the first disabled person to reach both the North and South Poles.

Michael McGrath, 38, a businessman from Buntingford, Hertfordshire, will depart on an expedition to the South Pole as part of a £1m charity fundraising effort.

The expedition is the second stage of a two-year project; Mr McGrath reached the North Pole in 2002. The enterprise, called pole2pole, aims to raise £1m for research and relief work for sufferers of muscle disorders.

Mr McGrath, who was diagnosed with the incurable muscle-wasting disease when he was 18 years old, has trouble keeping upright and retaining balance.

He will face winds of up to 80 miles an hour on his trip to the South Pole, and temperatures as low as -50C.

His expedition colleagues include Babs Powell, a former member of the BBC1 Top of the Pops group Pan's People.

Mr McGrath hopes to reach the geographic South Pole on 17 January, exactly 92 years after Captain Robert Scott's ill-fated expedition reached the Pole.

Mr McGrath will cover most of the distance in either a sledge or a specially adapted wheelchair, before undertaking a symbolic walk to the Pole itself once he is close enough.

The pole2pole expedition is the launch event for The Muscle Help Foundation which was set up to raise global awareness of muscle disorders including muscular dystrophy, to raise funds for neuromuscular research and to support the 250 million people worldwide affected by muscle disorders.

Mr McGrath said: "Although my condition has radically changed the way I live my life, I decided early on that I would do everything I could to have a positive impact on others."