Katherine Ziesing | Canberra
Both had sustained serious long-term injuries in Afghanistan and were selected for their sense of team spirit by Australian polar adventurer Eric Philips. Heath and Seamus – along with Eric, Canadians Alexandre Beaudin D’Anjou and Chris Downey, The Wire actor Dominic West, and co-founder of the charity Simon Daglish – formed Team Commonwealth. Two similar teams from the UK and the US made up the full South Pole Allied Challenge, originally designed as a race. After facing adverse conditions, all the teams ceased racing mid-way, but nonetheless raised more than $200,000 to help retrain injured soldiers for long-term employment after the armed forces.
The pair have now been awarded Spirit of Adventure award from the Australian Geographic Society. Speaking via a video message at the awards ceremony at the October 2014, His Royal Highness Prince Harry, praised the efforts of the pair, whom he had travelled with.
"In December 2013, I was tremendously fortunate to join a group of wounded servicemen and women as they embarked on an inspiring journey to ski to the South Pole with the Charity Walking With The Wounded,” Prince Harry said.
“This team, drawn from the UK, US, Australia and Canada, demonstrated the extraordinary courage, determination and strength of character of those in the Armed Forces.
“This determination - not to be defined by their injuries - was shown again this summer in London at the Invictus Games. The men and women taking part, whether injured physically or mentally, drew the world's attention to what could be achieved post injury, and in doing so inspired all those who watched in the stands and on the television. I was delighted that the Australian Armed Forces were so strongly represented at the games.
“Heath and Seamus are being honoured with one of the Australian Geographic Society’s oldest awards, the Spirit of Adventure medallion. This is a truly fitting award as their endeavours have helped affirm the belief amongst us that anything is achievable once you set your mind to it – they have inspired so many, not least those on their own pathway to recovery. I am delighted to see them recognised for the inspirational men that they are and send my sincere congratulations. They deserve no less, even though they didn’t get to the pole first!
“Well done to you both.”