Intrepid twins set off to cross Greenland ice cap to help paralysed schoolgirl (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Intrepid twins follow in Shackleton's footsteps in bid to help paralysed Harrogate schoolgirl
Updated 9:04pm Friday 2nd May 2014 in News
A pair of identical twins have dedicated their polar trek to a paralysed schoolgirl - and pledged to raise cash to help her walk again.
Hugo and Ross Turner, 25, have set off on a daring mission to follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton and cross the Greenland polar ice cap - with one of the brothers in the same antiquated kit as the explorer had 100 years ago.
They are determined to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the charity Spinal Research to fund research they hope could one day help 12-year-old Bel Young walk again.
The schoolgirl, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was eight years old when she lost ability to move from the neck down after slipping while playing on a climbing frame in a neighbour's garden.
Now confined to a wheelchair, she relies on a breathing apparatus and is given round-the-clock care from her mother, Vanessa.
After learning of her condition, the Turner twins - who are from Devon - vowed to raise as much cash to pay for research which they hope might allow her to take her first steps since the accident.
And before packing their sleds, skis and thermals for the freezing temperatures and treacherous terrain of the polar cap, they recorded a special video message to be played to Bel this week.
Speaking on the eve of the daring expedition, Ross Turner said: ''Spinal Research is Bel's only hope of walking again and we all want to help make that happen with our polar dash for cash.
''Ending paralysis was thought impossible by the medical profession for many years, but the work of Spinal Research is showing it is now not a question of 'if' it can happen, but 'when'.
''But money is desperately needed to bring new therapies to clinical trials in the UK.''
Bel's mother Vanessa said her daughter was overwhelmed at the determination of the twins to help her.
She said: ''We are literally blown away by the twins' courage and generosity of spirit.
''On their return Hugo and Ross plan to visit to tell Bel all about their trek and to show her their photographs and films of their adventure.''
Spinal Research believes it is closer than ever before to finding a way to reverse and end paralysis for people with a spinal cord injury after recent breakthroughs in the research laboratories it funds.
The cause is close to the twins' hearts.
Hugo broke his own neck in a diving accident on a beach in Cornwall when he was 17-years-old. He underwent six months of neck reconstruction surgery before knowing he would walk again.
Hugo and Ross have landed in Greenland and have begun their 340-mile crossing of the perilous ice sheet.
A host of celebrities have queued up to back the twins' mission, including actor Sir Kenneth Branagh, explorers Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Bear Grylls and David Mayer de Rothschild.
Sir Kenneth, who played Shackleton in the acclaimed Channel 4 drama, said: ''I take my hat off to Hugo and Ross for taking on this gruelling 340-mile trek across the polar ice cap, one of the loneliest and most inhospitable places on earth.
''I'll eat my hat if people don't get inspired and back the Turner twins on their Greenland trek.''
''Spinal Research takes inspiration from those children, like Bel, who live every day with paralysis, often from the neck down . They can't pick up a cup, hold a puppy, cuddle a loved one.
''This is Endurance with a capital 'E'. Please show children like Bel that you care. Show them there is hope.''
To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/turner-twins-Greenland or www.theturnertwins.co.uk.
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